cable tester

Discussion in 'Home Networking' started by Brett, Aug 12, 2004.

  1. Brett

    Brett Guest

    Hi Folks,

    I'm looking for a good reliable network cable tester.
    Can't seem to find any reviews.
    Any sugestions?
    Anything from enthusiast to pro would be helpful.
    What is your favorit.


    Brett, Aug 12, 2004
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  2. It depends on what you're looking for. Prices range from under a fiver
    (constantly running "buy it now" deals on ebay) to many thousands of

    Until you get to the several hundred pound bracket then they will all do
    roughly the same thing - tell you which wires are connected at both ends.
    My advice here is to go for the cheapest you can find unless you'll be
    using it a lot (and then be selective). Some of the more expensive (50 to
    100 pound range) testers are actually less useful than the cheaper ones.

    The very cheap testers tend to simply have a battery and a bunch of LEDs
    at both ends with the cable being tested in the middle. The battery is
    connected to each wire in turn, you watch the LEDs, and by seeing which
    LED lights up at each end you can see where each wire is connected to.
    Brutal, simple, and works fine. These are harder to use when testing long
    runs of installed cable, but they normally have an auto-scan function to
    do this (but if you're planning on testing a lot of installed cable or
    wiring your house up then I'd go for another type).

    The slightly more expensive testers can try to be too clever for their own
    good. To try to take the hard work out of telling whether a cable is
    straight through or a crossover some of them hide some information from
    you. Unfortunately, they often hide too much information and then often
    get it wrong as well. There are at least three commonly used wiring
    formats for crossover cables (all of which work fine) but I have yet to
    see a cable tester that correctly identifies all of them. I have also seen
    expensive - ~80 pounds - that identified all non-straight through cables
    as "non-parallel", thus lumping Cisco rolled cables and crossovers

    If you want something a bit more advanced than the ebay-specials, but
    can't afford a true cable certifier, then I'd recommend the Peak
    Electronic AtlasIT. This uses a clear LCD display to show exactly what
    line is connected to what, including shorts.
    (no connection, just a satisfied customer).

    Beyond that, you're into the true professional range. I have an elderly
    10baseT tester (again, courtesy of ebay :) which, while clunky and
    temperamental, is useful for identifying split pairs, cable length,
    crosstalk (only in the 10baseT range) and the like, all of which are
    missed by simple tester. I still use the AtlasIT for day to day use
    though for it's simplicity of operation.

    An up to dater tester capable of certifying cable to CAT5e or beyond is a
    serious piece of kit and usually only used by professional cable installers
    - and is appropriately expensive. For most uses you can make do without
    knowing the line attenuation and save a few thousand pounds :)

    Glyn Grinstead, Aug 13, 2004
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  3. Brett

    Brett Guest

    Thanks Glyn,
    I read about the AtlasIT, but without reviews i was a little unsure.

    Thank you

    Brett, Aug 14, 2004
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