The end of an RJ45 Ethernet connector (left) vs. an RJ12 phone connector (right)
Ethernet and telephone cables look fairly similar and it is not uncommon to get the two mixed up. The key difference between the two is the size of the plastic connectors on the ends of the cable. Telephones use an RJ11/RJ12 connector whereas Ethernet uses RJ45. RJ11/RJ12 only uses 4-6 pins whereas RJ45 uses 8 pins. As a result, RJ11/RJ12 is physically smaller than RJ45 since it does not need to contain as many pins.
Both Ethernet and telephone cables are made using modular connectors. These are connectors that were designed to be used with registered jack (RJ) twisted-pair cables. The original modular jacks were invented by AT&T in the 1960s and used for some telephones. Over time they caught on and eventually became industry-standard in the 1970s.
Anyone who has ever used a desk or wall phone knows they all have one problem in common: cords getting tangled. In the long run, it does not particularly matter how careful or gentle you are with a coiled handset cord. Eventually, the cord is going to end up as a jumbled mess. Preventing a cord from tangling in the first place is where a detangler comes in.
Phone cords do not last forever. When a cord starts to tangle, the smaller wires inside the cord begin to bend the wrong ways and start developing small, unnoticeable kinks. While the damage does not have immediate effects, it does add up over time. Eventually, the phone cord will start to have static because the damaged wires can no longer transmit a phone signal properly.
Along with a static-filled signal, tangled cords are just annoying. You sit there trying to keep the cord straight as it wraps around itself, wraps around your hand, and knocks a picture frame off the table all while the damage keeps compiling. Eliminating this issue is arguably even more important than using a detangler to extend the life of the phone cord.
Functionally, a cord detangler is very simple. The detangler goes in-between the handset and the coiled cord. One side of the detangler plugs into the handset (where the phone cord would plug in normally) and then the phone cord goes into the other end of the detangler. The part of the detangler connected to the phone cord spins around, preventing the
Modern telephone cords have been in use for a long time, with little change since their invention in the 1970s. Finding phone cords in the store can be tricky today; many stores have stopped carrying telephone cables since so many people only use cell phones now. This rings especially true for coiled handset cords. With these cables becoming rarer, sometimes it is better to repair rather than replace them. Other times, users may just need a cable not available in a standard length.
There is a bit of variation with different connectors available, as well as different wiring schemes (called pinouts) for the smaller wires inside the main cord. This guide will cover how to attach a connector to the end of bare phone cable and the difference between wiring pinouts.
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 phone cable and the correct type of connectors. There are three main types of connectors that can be used. RJ12 is the most common, being used on flat line cords that connect the base of a telephone to the wall. RJ11 is an older version of RJ12, and they are the same size. The difference is that RJ11 uses four internal wires (called conductors) while RJ12 uses six. RJ12 is backwards compatible with RJ11, but RJ11 will not work with RJ12.
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
Telephone cords are one of the more basic types of cables. Phone cables have remained mostly the same over the years with a few small changes here and there. There is a little terminology to know that will tell you a bit more about your phone lines, such as how they are wired and what type of plastic connector is on the end of the cable.
Phone cords come in two varieties, flat cords used to connect phones to the wall and coiled cords used for handset receivers. Flat cords will use either an RJ11 or RJ12 connector. These two connectors are the same size and look the same on the outside. On the inside, RJ11 will have four metal contacts for the internal wires inside the cable while RJ12 has six contacts. Since they are the same size, RJ12 is backwards compatible with RJ11. However, since RJ11 is the older of the two it is not compatible with RJ12.
The next distinction is whether your flat cord is straight or reverse. Straight cables are used to send data, like a fax machine, while reverse cables are used for voice, like a telephone. On a straight cable, the wires will connect to the same metal pins on either side of the cable. Pin 1 to pin 1, pin 2 to pin 2, etc. On a reverse cable, the opposite is true. For RJ12, a reverse cable would go pin 1 to pin 6, pin 2 to pin 5, etc.
Round versions of the flat cord also exist but are usually used for something other than a phone. Typically, they are equipped with extra features that make them larger than the average flat cable, such as something built for outdoor use or