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Brad Fitzpatrick

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cable tester: recommendations? [Jan. 4th, 2006|12:13 am]
Brad Fitzpatrick
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I need a cable tester. I'm overwhelmed by the choices. They range from $20 to $100.

They all look the same.

Somebody tell me what to buy.

Artur, if you have The Paradox of Choice, bring it to work. I need to understand why I hate choices.

(I remember calliste telling me her family was overwhelmed after the DDR fell ... they'd go to supermarkets and instead of 1 laundry soap there'd be 4 and they were confused.... that's me. (and apparently lots of people))

[User Picture]From: alohawolf
2006-01-04 08:19 am (UTC)
most of those are junk, you want something that is a tad bit more exspensive, and that would only be sold by greybar or alltel or the like.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-01-04 08:20 am (UTC)
Thanks! That's the sort of instruction I need. :-)
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[User Picture]From: alohawolf
2006-01-04 08:26 am (UTC)
you work in a datacenterish place, go spend the money, and get a high end one, something that will set you back 500 dollar or more, but will give you concrete info on the Ethernet lines.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-01-04 08:42 am (UTC)
you work in a datacenterish place

This is for my home wiring. :-)
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[User Picture]From: alohawolf
2006-01-04 08:44 am (UTC)
I know.. but the good cable tester, plus a toner, plus MAYBE a butset, if you plan on using a butset often, get a harris, if you dont, find something more cost effective, these are tools that can be handy both at work and at home, hell.. im a security gaurd, and I still use my tools from when I did telecom.
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[User Picture]From: alohawolf
2006-01-04 08:27 am (UTC)
one more thing, get a toner, and possibly a butset, while your at it, will save you much time.
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[User Picture]From: gaal
2006-01-04 10:04 am (UTC)
> I need to understand why I hate choices.

I just read the first page of that book, but I guess the basics of it is:

* there's hella lot of parameters
* some parameters aren't easy to quantify
* they aren't readily presented as information

Coming up with the formula to optimize a purchase is only part of the stress, and in principle only has to be one per product type. Flashy ads distract you on all three of the above points, by resisting being "data" and making you worry that you hadn't given enough weight to the thing each ad is trying to sell.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-01-04 06:10 pm (UTC)
Sounds about right.
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[User Picture]From: sugarbeet
2006-01-04 04:00 pm (UTC)
I have always been a big fan of MOD-TAP SLT3 Cable Tester.

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[User Picture]From: jackbrinks
2006-01-04 04:10 pm (UTC)

A solid (expensive) choice

At work I use the predecessor of the Microscanner Pro from Microtest. It was purchased before I started here (~5 years ago) and the price tag on mine (looks like a Fry's tag) says that someone paid $349.95 for it.

It does the following "simple twisted pair cable testing":

Displays cable lengths and pinouts
Pinpoints opens, shorts and mis-wired pairs
Generates tone for locating hidden cables
Matches cables to offices during adds, moves and changes

It has the main display unit shown at the URL above and a little dongle that you plug the other end of the cable into. It uses a 9V battery (changed it once in 5 years). It's worked perfectly every time I've used it to test Ethernet, crossover, and console cables that I've either made myself or suspected were faulty.

I'd imagine you could find something for less as $325 seems like quite a bit to pay for a cable tester.

After 5 years of use I'm very happy with this one.
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[User Picture]From: muerte
2006-01-04 04:15 pm (UTC)
What's the DDR? Surely Dance Dance Revolution couldn't affect laundry soap in the way you're referring.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-01-04 06:11 pm (UTC)
Pick one:

Hint: it's not Distributed dynamic routing. :-)
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[User Picture]From: eaterofhands
2006-01-04 05:25 pm (UTC)

Fluke Linkrunner Kit

If you can budget about ~1k then look at the Fluke Linkrunner Kit. It does basic wire mapping, 10/100 and duplex link verification, ping tests via manual IP settings or DHCP, cable distance measurement, and a very basic link level measurement (low signal vs. normal). The kit adds a loopback plug to test back to the patch panel or jack, and a set of numbered cable IDs (linkrunner unit will display the number of the ID plug connected to the jack), and a probe kit to tone out the wires (the link runner will place a tone on the wire).

They were handy enough that they weren't obtrusive in my tool bag and was always around when I needed it. I preferred carrying that around over the several thousand dollar DSP or DTX test set.
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[User Picture]From: feren
2006-01-05 12:55 am (UTC)

Re: Fluke Linkrunner Kit

Admittedly, as neat a "nice to have" as some of those features are, I've never understood why I'd want a cable tester to involve itself in IP and other such layer 3 (or above) items. If I'm down in a subfloor toning wires out it's a sure bet I'm not thinking about DHCP.
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From: trs80 [typekey.com]
2006-01-15 05:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Fluke Linkrunner Kit

IME, DHCP is the protocol most sensitive to dodgy wiring - you may have link, can ping, but trying to DHCP will fail whenever your cabling is even slightly pulled out or otherwise marginal. Don't ask me why, but it is. Thousands of log lines of DHCPDISCOVER/DHCPOFFER with no DHCPREQUEST/DHCPACK tell the truth.
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[User Picture]From: scosol
2006-01-05 01:35 am (UTC)

Re: Fluke Linkrunner Kit

hmmm a thousand-dollar cable tester for *how* many feet of ethernet cable that costs *how* much per foot?

re the choice thing- i hear ya-
i think a lot of engineer types are affected by it-
i think logically- in a contest between a few good choices it usually becomes obvious fairly quickly which one is the "best" choice-
but when the number of choices expands to above 10?
and the differences between the choices become more ambiguous?
i *want* to spend weeks researching all these differences and find out which are meaningful and which aren't, but... i just can't waste that much time.
and then i'm stuck with always wondering what i'm missing- gah!

at some point i realized that my time is money, and i stopped giving a shit about small things-
for a cable tester? i'll spend 15 minutes deciding where i should spend my $50
for a car? a month or two
give that a shot...
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[User Picture]From: ljkrissy
2006-01-04 05:58 pm (UTC)
Hey I got that book for Christmas!
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[User Picture]From: askbjoernhansen
2006-01-04 08:21 pm (UTC)

TrendWare ...

When I wired my house I got one of the trendware testers (from NewEgg).

It's quite alright. It won't do the fancy s/n testing, but it'll tell you if you got all the wires connected and connected correctly.

Newegg also sells (or at least used to) a great little 12 port cat 6 patch panel for ~$30. Highly recommended; get as many as you have closets (or something like that).

- ask
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From: jamesd
2006-01-04 09:48 pm (UTC)
I'd be inclined to go for one of the dirt cheap ones. Doubt you're going to be using it enough to justify spending more and any will do a basic "is the wire broken" test.

Choices are a pain when you want to make an optimal decision. Too much to consider so it can take forever to even learn the options you have, let alone work out what you want and which is best.

Another option: check local cabling places. I was surprised how inexpensive some of the places in NYC were and it's even less hassle to have someone else do the wiring work. My guess is that this would cost less than one of the more fancy meters others have suggested. Did a better job than I'd have done hacking around as well.
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[User Picture]From: graceadieu
2006-01-05 08:11 am (UTC)


Your comment about the people from the DDR being bewildered by choices after the Wall fell reminded me of a poignant incident about 6 years ago. I was shopping in our local supermarket and suddenly noticed a couple standing by the butcher counter. Both were in their mid-60's and both were crying. :( I went over to see what I could do, but they were speaking a language I could not understand which turned out to be Bulgarian. Shortly after that their English speaking daughter joined us and explained that she had finally gotten her parents out of Bulgaria and to America. "They are crying because they have never seen so much beautiful food, " she said. I went home and cried BUCKETS and reflected on how wonderful life is in America!
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[User Picture]From: bostonsteamer
2006-01-05 03:04 pm (UTC)


I recall you loving idiotic pseudo-code help wanted banner ads. Here's a great one from IMDB:

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From: ahze
2006-01-07 01:32 am (UTC)

bored saturday... make your own

I did this for a tech-science project in high school

Went to radioshack got 8 LED lights and and made my own out of
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