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Monthly Archives: November 2018

  1. Surge Protectors

    Surge protectors are a simple way to protect electronics from electrical damage. Power surges can range anywhere from small impulses that gradually wear equipment down to lightning strikes that could fry everything electrical in an entire building. Not all surge protectors are equal and it is important to know the different features offered before selecting one.

    Surge Protectors vs. Power Strips

    The terms “surge protector” and “power strip” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A power strip is anything that plugs into a single wall outlet and gives it multiple outlets. Not every single power strip out there has surge protection built into it. If a power strip is priced especially low, it most likely does not have any form of surge protection. While these can be used for additional outlets, they will do nothing to protect your electronics from electrical surges.

    Surge protectors (also called surge suppressors) are designed to stop excess electricity from damaging anything plugged into them. This layer of protection is measured in joules. Electricity can also have signal issues due to electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI).


    What Are Joules? - Joule Ratings

    Different surge protectors have different joules ratings,

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  2. Making & Mending - DIY Ethernet Cables

    Ethernet is one of the most important types of cables today, being used to connect all manner of technology around the world to the Internet. While many stores today have pre-made ethernet cables available, sometimes another option is needed. Users may need a cable in an unusual size or just need to replace a broken connector. This guide will show users how to put an RJ45 connector onto the end of bare ethernet cable.

    Before jumping into the main guide, there is an easy fix if you have a connector where the release tab broke off. When the tab breaks, the cable will not lock into place and have trouble maintaining a connection. This can be easily fixed with a Quick Snap Latch, which is a much easier repair than replacing the whole connector. If a broken latch is the only issue, grab one of those for a simple repair that will only take a few seconds.

    A video guide detailing the below steps can be found at the bottom of the article.

    Step 1: Gathering the Supplies

    There are a few simple supplies that will be needed for an installation or repair. The key components are the bare ethernet cable and the RJ45 connectors. Beyond that, just a few tools are needed. A cable stripper and

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  3. Wire Strippers & Cable Cutters

    Wire strippers are simple tools that make installing new connectors on any cable a much simpler job. One of the first steps for installing a connector is peeling back the outer jacket. While this is technically possible with something like a pair of scissors, doing it that way is difficult and delicate work. More often than not, it results in cutting too deep and having to start all over.

    Cable cutters are designed to cut exactly through the outer jacket, no more and no less. When used correctly, the blades should never touch anything deeper than the jacket. There are different types of cutters available as well. Most strippers are compatible with multiple cables, with these multi-cable strippers covering different cables that have similar thicknesses.

    Rotary Strippers

    Rotary strippers are one of the most common types of cable cutters, mainly due to how easy they are to use. The blades inside the stripper are adjustable, allowing users to change how deeply they will cut. After the cable is inserted, the stripper spins around the cable repeatedly until it cuts a ring through the jacket. The loose part of the cable jacket can then slide off the end.

    There are 2-blade and 3-blade versions of rotary strippers available. The blades on a rotary stripper work similar to a shaving razor. The first blade makes the initial cut while the second and/or third blades follow up to finish. A 3-blade stripper will work better than a 2-blade since there is an extra blade to help with the work. The blades can also be replaced as they wear out over time.

    Typically, rotary strippers are used with either ethernet or coaxial cable. Ethernet strippers can be used with any type of ethernet cable and will usually work with telephone cables as well. Coax strippers are rated

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  4. Cable Management - Racks and Cabinets

    Keeping cables organized in racks and cabinets can be tedious, but it is well worth the effort. Nothing is worse than needing to get to a single cable having problems while trying to sort through a jumbled, unorganized mess of wires. Luckily, there are a number of options for keeping cables organized so that any repairs take minutes instead of hours.

    Size is the main factor to take into consideration when looking at cable management equipment. The standard width for all racks and cabinets is 19 inches across, so that will be the size of any cable management equipment that does not say otherwise. The length of the equipment is measured in rack units (RU). A single rack unit consists of one pair of holes used to secure equipment on either side of the rack/cabinet and the space around them, measuring 1¾ inches total. When selecting cable management equipment or any other equipment, make sure to check how many RUs of space are available first.

    Cable Ducts

    Cable ducts are made to route, organize, and protect cables running through an open frame rack. They are fairly large, designed to run the entire length of the rack. Sizes range from 8 RU (the smallest racks made by most manufacturers) to 45 RU (the largest rack size generally available). Each cable duct has a slotted back (the slots are called “fingers”) that can be easily removed when cables need to be added, removed, or reorganized.


    Cable Spools

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  5. Crimp Tools


    Crimp tools, also called crimpers, are used to crimp connectors onto bare wire when assembling a cable. There are a few different versions of crimp tools, depending on how the crimper is made and what type of cable it was designed for.


    How Do Crimp Tools Work?


    Using a crimp tool is fairly simple. First, a cable must be stripped to expose the metal wire inside. Then the metal wire(s) are inserted into the connector. Single conductor cables (coax) are easier to use than multi-wire cables like ethernet or phone lines (additional details below). Once the wires are inserted, put the connector inside the crimp tool and squeeze the handle. The pressure applied by the crimper will tighten the connector to keep it in place.


    Manual vs. Ratchet Crimpers


    There are two main types of crimpers, manual and ratchet. Manual crimpers are powered completely by hand. The amount of pressure they can apply to a connector depends entirely on how hard you squeeze the handle. Manual crimpers are harder to use than ratchet crimp tools but are also less expensive. Generally, a manual crimper is the way to go if you plan on using the tool infrequently or for a small number of cables.

    Ratchet crimpers are built using ratchets, which allow extra pressure to be applied when crimping. The extra power of a ratchet makes crimping much easier, requiring less raw strength for each individual crimp. This makes ratchet crimpers ideal for frequent usage or when you need to assemble many cables.


    Coaxial Crimp Tools


    Coaxial crimp tools are rated based on the type of cable they can be used with. The type of connector you are using does not impact whether a tool will be compatible. Since the metal ring where the connector meets the

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  6. Cable Management - Raceway and Wiring Duct


    Raceway, also called conduit, is a hollow plastic stick used to protect cables and keep them out of sight after installation. Keeping cables protected after they are installed increases the cables overall lifespan and cuts down on maintenance. Being made of solid plastic, raceway provides more than adequate protection in most non-extreme environments.

    Regardless of whether cables are in a home or running through an office, raceway is widely considered a great solution for hiding cables as well as protecting them. Having bare wire hanging against the wall looks ugly. A simple plastic stick is much smoother and provides a more professional aesthetic for anything from a home TV antenna cable to a cable connecting a projector in a business office.



    While raceway is not terribly complicated, there are a few factors to take into consideration before purchasing. There are different sizes of raceway available depending on how many cables will be going through it. Small raceway, for example, measures at ¾” and can hold anywhere from 1-4 ethernet cables. The next size, 1¼”, holds 5-7 ethernet cables, and so on and so forth as the sizes get bigger.

    Standard raceway comes manufactured as sticks, most commonly measuring either 6 or 8 feet in length. These sticks can be cut down using a simple raceway cutting tool. Each raceway stick also has a

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  7. USB Extension Cables

    Most devices that use USB cables come with one, but these prepackaged cables tend to be too short. Few things are as annoying as having to leave your device in a weird spot to recharge or trying to keep your phone charger from falling off the table. Using USB extension cords to get a little extra distance can be convenient or outright necessary in these situations.

    There are a few facts to keep in mind when it comes to USB extension cables. First off, make sure you are picking out the correct type of extension cable. The average USB extension cord is going to be USB 2.0 A Male to Female. Some other types do exist, but typically “USB extension” means an A Male to Female cable.

    Another other key detail to check is whether you need a USB 2.0 or 3.0 extension. Usually, the plastic inside the metal end of the USB cable will be color-coded, with 2.0 cables being black or white and 3.0 cables being blue. Not every manufacturer does this, so it never hurts to double-check your cable beforehand. You can use 2.0 extensions with other 3.0 cables, but you will only get USB 2.0 data and recharging speeds. If you want 3.0 speeds, every piece of equipment you are using must be 3.0 rated.

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  8. Cable Management - Cable Supports

    Keeping cables secure can be something of a challenge. Running a cable across the floor is one thing, but going up a wall or leaving something hanging from a ceiling is another. Loose, dangling cables are much more likely to get damaged and just look bad. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can be used to keep wall and ceiling cables safe and secure.

    Beam Clamps

    Beam clamps are named for what they are able to do; these small fixtures use a screw to clamp down onto beams. The purpose of a beam clamp is to provide a spot to screw in a bridle ring or similar equipment, which is then used to actually hang cables. The average beam clamp has a ⅞” opening with a ¼-20 thread and is available in both iron and steel. Iron beam clamps can support up to a 250 lb. load while the steel version supports up to 100 lbs. There is also an extra wide version with a 3⅛” opening that supports up to 200 lbs.

    Bridle Rings

    Bridle rings are one of the most common tools for hanging cables and come in a few different varieties. They are metal loops, available in sizes ranging from ¾” to 4”, made to support anywhere from a single cable to a large cluster of them. Some bridle rings are threaded with machine screws and designed to be used with beam clamps or similar equipment. Other threaded units use wood screws to att

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  9. Phone Battery Chargers

    In any scenario, having to deal with a dead cell phone is a pain. No one likes to realize their alarm did not go off because their phone died in the middle of the night. Or that they are totally lost when the phone’s GPS suddenly changes to a black screen.

    With how important cell phones have become to everyday life, you would think that grabbing a charging cable would be simple. However, there are a number of options available depending on what type of phone you have. Even when looking at the same type of charger, different versions can be available.

    Phone Charger Ratings

    Chargers can have different ratings that are based on three factors: power (watts), current (amps), and voltage (volts). Amps are the key factor to look at here. Larger devices with bigger batteries, such as a tablet vs. a phone, hold more power and can take longer to charge. Phone chargers are made with different ratings depending on what device they are designed to go with. For example, this car charger has three USB ports on it. The first two ports have 1.0A (amps) while the last port has 2.1A. The 2.1A port has higher amperage and can charge big devices like tablets faster while the 1.0A ports are better for smaller devices like cell phones.

    Some devices will only draw a certain amount of power from any charger to avoid damaging themselves. For example, iPhones will never charge with more than 1.0A. On the flipside of that, if you used a 1.0A charger with something like a tablet it would charge slower than if you used a 2.1A charger.

    There are some rumors that claim charging a phone too fast can reduce the maximum b

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