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Time to Terminate

Now that I had my cable bundles under control, I started the termination process. I started at the outlet boxes, and just started attaching connectors. The coax was easy, since I used screw-on type connectors (Figure 4) that didn't require crimping. But two tools proved invaluable here: locking pliers, which allowed me to get a good grip on the connector and keep my hands from getting torn up while twisting on the connectors; and a coax stripper (Figure 5).

RG 6 Twist-on connector

Figure 4: RG 6 Twist-on connector
(image courtesy of Deep Surplus)

Figure 5: Coax stripper
(image courtesy of Deep Surplus)

The locking pliers I already had and the TL252 stripper cost me only $10 from DeepSurplus. This stripper uses three blades and strips the outer jacket, shield braid and inner insulator at the same time, turning a chore that normally takes me a minute or so (and a few nicked fingers) into literally a 5 second job.

Putting on the RJ45 jacks took a bit more time, but I also purchased a UTP cable stripping tool (the TL230 from Deep Surplus - about $9) that helped speed things along by letting me quickly and cleanly get the cable outer jacket stripped. The RJ45 jack terminals themselves are IDC (insulation displacement connector) type, i.e. they cut through the insulation without your having to strip it.

For some reason, I convinced myself that using a punch-down tool to terminate the RJ45 jacks was going to be a hassle, so I initially ordered "toolless" jacks. But it turned out that these jacks required me to perform a task I personally dread - sorting UTP wires into order and holding them there while performing the termination.

So I ended up returning the jacks and ordering regular punch-down type jacks. I still had to sort through the color-coded wires during termination (tough for us partly color-blind folks), but punching down the wires individually was quick and easy and, at least for me, less error-prone. Figure 6 shows one of each jack flavor - "toolless" in blue and punch-down in white.

"Toolless" and punch-down type RJ45 jacks

Figure 6: "Toolless" and punch-down type RJ45 jacks

I also ordered and returned a punch-down tool and 110 style blade because the data patch panels each came with a cheap tool that worked just fine.

Tip TIP: Some folks like to use a small-blade screwdriver to do their termination. But I wouldn't recommend taking the risk of widening the terminals and creating an intermittent, or worse, high resistance connection that would be miserable to troubleshoot.

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