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LAN & WAN Reviews

In Use - More Tests

The TDR test is primarily used to measure cable length. Connecting one end of an Ethernet cable to the Pockethernet device and leaving the other end disconnected will produce a cable measurement. I connected known good 6' and 25' Ethernet cables and ran the TDR tests, results shown below.

TDR Test on 6 (L) & 25 (R) foot cables

TDR Test on 6 (L) & 25 (R) foot cables

If the other end of the TDR test is connected to a network device, I found it produced varying results. When the other end of the Ethernet cable was connected to a switch port, the Pocket Ethernet device reported "Connected to ETH port." However, when connected to my laptop's Ethernet port, the Pockethernet device reported "Short."

The TDR Graph test shows a plot of an Ethernet cable's imperfections. The test has a slider bar to select a maximum distance for the test. The x-axis of the TDR graph shows distance and the y-axis of the TDR graph shows imperfections. A good test, according to the manual, should show a flat line in the graph.

I ran the TDR Graph tool on multiple known good cables from 6'- 25' with the maximum distance set to it's lowest value, 49'. Every test I ran picked up imperfections in my cables, although each cable worked fine, leaving me to wonder about the effectiveness of this test. Below is the result of my test on the 25' cable showing imperfections between 5' and 10'.

TDR Graph Result

TDR Graph Result

The Link test measures 10/100/1000 speed and duplex capabilities on an Ethernet connection to a network device, typically a switch. As you can see below, the Link test reported the connection to my ZyXEL switch is capable of 1000 Mbit and Full duplex, as expected.

Layer 2 Link Test

Layer 2 Link Test

Pockethernet also supports Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) and Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP). Both are useful Layer 2 tools for discovering information about connected devices. I ran the CDP/LLDP test on the Pockethernet device with a Cisco SG200-26 (link) switch. Pockethernet correctly detected important values such as my switch's IP and MAC address, as well as its make and model, shown below.

CDP Test

CDP Test

The DHCP test is a test that sends a DHCP request and displays the received IP address, DNS addresses, and gateway address of the local DHCP server.

There is also a VLAN test, which allows you to connect Pockethernet to a trunk port, set the VLAN ID on Pockethernet and test 802.1Q tagging. This test works in conjunction with the DHCP test. For example, with the VLAN ID on Pockethernet set to 2, and Pockethernet connected to a trunk port on a switch configured as an untagged member of VLAN 1 and a tagged member of VLAN 2, I should get an IP address from my DHCP server for VLAN 2. However, when I ran this test, I consistently got an IP address from my DHCP server for VLAN 1, leaving me to wonder about the effectiveness of this test.

802.1Q VLAN Test

802.1Q VLAN Test

The ping test will send a ping to up to three different destinations, based on URL or IP address. In the screenshot below, Pockethernet was able to effectively ping both 8.8.8.8 and yahoo.com.

Ping Test

Ping Test

Another interesting Pockethernet test tool is the Traffic tool. This displays samples of traffic over a 60 second period from the port connected to Pockethernet. This tool seems like a quick Wireshark sampling tool. Source and destination MAC addresses along with VLAN tags of traffic seen on the connected port will be displayed on the app as shown below. (In my test, the tool picked up a bunch of broadcast traffic, which is common on a network, as evidenced by the destination MAC address = FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF.)

Packet Capture Test

Packet Capture Test

The Bit Error Rate (BER) test enables stress testing an Ethernet cable. With this test, the Pockethernet device sends packets over the cable and measures the data when it comes back. You run this test by connecting your Ethernet cable from the Pockethernet device to the Loopback port of the included terminator. You can adjust the test to send data at 10, 100, or 1000 Mbps, send 64 or 1518 byte packets with a random or fixed pattern payload and send 100K, 1M, or 10M packets. The app will display an error count and error ratio from the test.

In the below screenshot, you can see a BER test at 1000 Mbps, sending 1 Megabyte of 64 byte packets with a random payload. The tool reported "No errors", which I would expect on a known good cable.

Bit Error Rate Test

Bit Error Rate Test

Reports and More

A nice Pockethernet feature is the ability to collect test results and send them out in report. In the app Report menu, you enter in the details on where you're running the test, and click Create. Your most recent test results will be added to the report, which you can then email wherever you choose. The below report shows a summary of Ethernet tests I ran with Pockethernet, including PoE, Link, Ping and DHCP tests.

Test Report

Test Report

In addition to the above described tests and the report feature, Pockethernet can be used as a tone generator on any of the four pairs of wires in an Ethernet cable, which can be detected by a tone probe (not included, but readily available). If you've ever had to find a specific wire in a bundle, having a tone generator and probe comes in handy! Another handy tool is the blinker feature, which will cause the LEDs on a switch or router Ethernet port to blink, make it easier to locate.

Closing Thoughts

Before Pockethernet, I've tested Fluke's (now NETSCOUT) Linksprinter 200 and 300, which were Fluke's take on "low cost" network testers. Both use Wi-Fi to communicate wirelessly to a smartphone or PC; Pockethernet uses Bluetooth. The Fluke devices run tests similar to Pockethernet, including wiremap testing (300 only), PoE, Link capabilities, DHCP, VLANs (300 only), LLDP/CDP detection, and basic network connectivity.

The fact that the Pockethernet device is rechargeable has its pros and cons. The pro is there are no batteries to purchase and replace; the con is the device has to be charged and is unusable while charging.

I like the report tool provided by Pockethernet. It summarized test results in a nicely formatted report.

The big win for Pockethernet, though, is price. The Linksprinter 200 runs $314, and the Linksprinter 300 runs $399, while Pockethernet costs around $176 at current exchange rates. You'll also have to pay tax and shipping, but it's still going to save you a bundle over the Linksprinters.

Bottom line is I liked Pockethernet. It performs many useful wire and network tests quickly and easily, provides easy to read output on your smartphone, and is a bargain compared to the competition!

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