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Progressive Electronics 568A / 568B Ethernet CAT5 Cable Tester
Progressive Electronics 568A / 568B Ethernet CAT5 Cable Tester
Overall Rating:   80%
Abstract: Crimp your own Cat 5? To find out if they actually work you might want to test out those cables. This little unit does that and much more...

 Company link     Category     Published     Author    
Progressive Electronics   $$ Price It! ££ Networking   May 14, 2000   Max Page  

Progressive Electronics 568A / 568B Ethernet CAT5 Cable Tester

If you're like us, and crimp your own Cat 5 cables, a tester might be good thing to have. Why? Well even if everything looks alright after the RJ45 jacks have been crimped on, there may be a problem. Those kinds of invisible problems can effect how the cable performs and thus how the Ethernet performs.

One way to test newly made wire is to stick it in a hub, or between two computers, and attempt to send a large file across. Chances are if it works fine, you cable will also. Sometimes there is an intermittent problem with a cable. It will work 99% of the time, until someone moves it... Then a short or a open will cause one pair of wires to go out of service, and with it, reliable network access. For tricky problems like this, it's hard find them with out the use of some type of tester. One such tester is put out by Progressive Electronics.

The Model 468 device comes with the following:

  • Transmitter
  • Receiver
  • (2) Cable Test Jumpers
  • Padded carry Case
  • Instructions
  • Measures 10cm x 6cm (transmitter) and 6cm x 6.7cm (receiver)
  • Warranty: One year
  • Cost: $150 CDN

The two cable test jumpers allow the unit to be used to test installed wire via a RJ45 receptacle. This can be either for the technician to double check their work (the unit is designed for Telco or Network Cable installers / Electricians), or used in the event where wire may have been damaged by renovation, nails, or whatever. The unit also has a built in tone generator, so for you techies with a probe, the unit can help determine which wire is which when you are staring at 30 or 40 pairs of cat 5!

The way we have been using this unit recently is to test out our crimped cable. Once the crimping has been finished, one end is inserted into the Transmitter, and the other into the Receiver. If everything is well, the four LED's will turn on in sequence - identifying that the wiring is correct. If something is awry, then the LED's will either light up out of sequence, not light up at all, or if the pairs have been switched, light up red.

These descriptive features are more suited for connections to receptacles then with the RJ45 connectors, an error there means chop off and start over ;-) But, at least the badly crimped wires won't slip through into the network - even if it down mean recrimping.

Progressives' Model 468 tests the following wiring standards; USOC 4-pair, USOC 1, 2, 3-pair, T568A, T568B and 10Base-T. The instructions come with simple wiring diagrams for each wiring standard as well. The unit is well built, and comes in a rugged, padded carry case. It's powered by a 9 volt battery, and has an on/off switch. The only thing I'm not to excited about is the LED's. For some reason they use clear LED's instead of frosted ones. It makes reading the LED's slightly less obvious, as there is a constant background glow.

In conclusion, while we are mainly using the model 468 for testing crimped wire, it has also been used to ferret out a few wires we thought good, but with intermittent problems. Basically, when it comes down to the frustration factor of files being corrupted because of lost data over network cables, or problems with connectivity - the high cost of this testing device is justified. For those of you who regularly install Cat 5, this device, or one like it, is a must have.


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