7 Best practices for copper cable installation

Best practice in cable installation is a professional with the proper tools and certifications to ensure the proper installation of the network cabling. Many businesses aren’t willing to pay for this level of service. Often it falls on the IT department to install or supervise moves, adds, and changes to the network by unqualified personnel.

The trade-off in time and possible lost product is a business judgment exercised by management and is a reality of every network.

Still, quality testing and following a few simple rules will result in a network link or repair that can provide years of high-speed network performance.

  1. Know your job. Is this a repair of a failed network link or a whole new cable run? Where is the cable going? Is it just a short hop up and over the equipment rack to the next one? Or is it a couple hundred feet up a rise and across the plenum ceiling to a medical room? Careful here –there are no Etherpolice, but there is a fire marshal who doesn’t care anything about how much work it was to install a cable –it better have the right fire rating on the jacket. It is expensive and time consuming to remove thousands of feet of cable because a non-smoke-/flame-resistant cable was used.
  2. The cable must have the proper jacket material for the job. There are many types of jacket materials: Plenum, PVC, UV-resistant, mold-resistant, low temperature, to name a few. Use the proper jacket for the job at hand.

    cable stripped

    Cable being stripped.

  3. The cable will have to be cut to length, the ends stripped off of the outer jacket material, and the connectors attached. The cable may very likely be pulled directly off the reel orspool into position through conduit, onto a cable tray or hung on J-hooks.
  4. All cable should be laid in as smoothly as possible, without damage to the jacket.
  5. When going around corners, a smooth radius should be maintained in accordance with the cable manufacturers’ specification. Remember that an Ethernet copper cable holds four twisted pairs of wire. A kink or sharp bend will affect the relationship of the twisted pairs, allowing electrical noise or crosstalk into the communication signals. Continue reading

Black Box at DSE 2014

Last Thursday marked the end of another another successful Digital Signage Expo. This year’s show, held in Las Vegas, welcomed 5,000 attendees from around the world, and featured over 200 exhibitors dedicated to digital signage, interactive technology, and Out-of-Home networks.

rAVe Publications stopped by our booth, and we were able to showcase our MediaCento IPX, VideoPlex4 Video Wall Controller, and iCOMPEL Q Series products.

David Crum, Product Engineer, demonstrates how to extend HDMI video over an IP network with the MediaCento IPX.


Product Manager Erik Indresøvde demonstrates the VideoPlex4 Wall Controller.


Rob Edgecomb, Digital Signage Technical Sales Specialist, shows off the iCOMPEL Q Series digital signage subscriber for hard or noise-sensitive environments.

Copper cable installation: 8 guidelines to protect your hardware

You can invest in the best cable and hardware, but if they’re not installed properly, they won’t work, or at least they won’t work well. Protect your investment and follow these installation guidelines.

cable-pair-twists1. Cable pair twists. This is the most important guideline you can follow for twisted-pair cable. The pair twists are responsible for much of cable’s performance. If you lose the twists, you lose performance.

When terminating CAT5e or higher, maintain pair twists to within 13 mm (0.5 in.) from the point of termination. And remove as little of the sheath as possible.

When terminating cable, only strip back the cable sheath 1″. Keep pair untwists to a maximum of 0.5″.

Bend-radius2. Bend radius. If you bend twisted-pair cable too much, you loosen the twists, and yes, lose performance. The following bend radii are under no-load conditions:

  • UTP horizontal: 4 times the cable diameter.
  • Sc/UTP horizontal: 8 times the cable diameter.
  • Multipair backbone: 10 times the cable diameter.

3. Tension. To avoid stretching, pulling tension should not exceed 110 N (25 lb./ft. or 110N). Pulling too hard untwists the pairs, which can cause transmission problems, and can affect cable certification. Use supports and trays in cable runs to minimize sagging, which pulls on the pairs and degrades performance.

Cable-wrap4. Cinching. Take care not to cinch cable bundles tightly, which causes stress and degrades performance. Tie cable bundles loosely. And never staple cables.

5. Connecting hardware. Use connecting hardware of the same category or higher. The transmission of your components will always be the lowest category in the link. So, if you’re using CAT6 cable, use CAT6 connectors.

6. Miscellaneous considerations. Visually inspect the cable for proper terminations, bend radius, tension, nicks, etc. Don’t uncoil UTP cable on a spool. It can cause kinks. Rotate the spool instead. Plan for 12 inches of slack cable behind wall outlets for possible future reterminations. Continue reading

11 Data center design tips

What are the most important things to consider when designing a data center?

The first step in designing and implementing a new or upgraded data center is to step back and assess your needs. The more complex your data center is now, the more important it is to successfully plan for growth. No matter if your network consists of a two-room office or a multi-building campus, decisions you make now will impact your business’s or organization’s success for many years to come. Here’s a short list of data center design tips:

  1. Consider initial and future loads.
  2. Lower data center power consumption and increase cooling efficiency by grouping together equipment with similar head load densities and temperature requirements. This allows cooling systems to be controlled to the least energy-intensive set points for each location.
  3. Reference 2011 ASHRAE Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments to review the standardized operating envelope for the recommended IT operating temperature.
  4. Identify the class of your data center to determine the recommended and allowable environmental envelopes.Caution sign
  5. Implement effective air management to minimize or eliminate mixing air between the cold and hot air sections. This includes configuration of equipment’s air intake and heat exhaust paths, location of air supply and air return, and the overall airflow patterns of the room. Benefits include reduced operating costs, increased IT density, and reduced heat-related processing interruptions or failures. Continue reading

3 Keys to choosing a surge protector

There are many different kinds of surge protectors. Surge protectors installed on power lines don’t absorb or otherwise diminish damaging power surges. Their primary function is to divert these destructive forces away from your sensitive circuitry.

There are four basic kinds of surge protectors: metal oxide varistors (MOVs), avalanche diodes, filters, and gas tubes.

Metal oxide varistors (MOVs) are a common choice. The word varistor is a combination of two words: variable resistor. As these words imply, an MOV is a highly resistive device that triggers during an AC power surge and diverts the excess voltage, preventing it from reaching your expensive computer equipment.

MOVs are designed to accommodate surge levels up to a specified breakdown voltage. When this limit is exceeded, the MOV varies from a highly resistive state to a state of low resistance. The excess energy is “clipped” from the power line and sent to ground.

Surges occurring at the peak of a sine wave are clipped by the MOV, but high-voltage spikes may still occur (though they’ll eventually be clipped), and the MOV response times can range up to 500 picoseconds. This is the primary weakness of an MOV, but it’s usually overcome by the inclusion of some other suppression technique within the surge protector.

Avalanche diodes, also known as Zener diodes, are semiconductor devices similar to MOVs, but they feature much faster response times (usually less than one picosecond). Avalanche diodes are available in a wider range of sizes to provide accurate and repeatable voltage clamping. However, they have limited ability to withstand large surges, which means they should be combined with other devices to make them useful for lightning surge protection.

Filters are also usually built into surge protectors, along with other suppression devices, to offer enhanced levels of protection. They’re made up of discrete coils, called chocks, and capacitors that are designed to filter noise occurring within specific frequency ranges on AC power lines. Continue reading


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