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     06/28/2009


Why NOT make your own
"free" RJ-45 Ethernet patch cables????
(Because it is dumb?)
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Why Not make your own "free" Ethernet patch cables???? (Because it is dumb?)

Indirect Costs
Quality 8-wire network quality tester $130.00
Quality crimping tool $20.00
Wire stripping tool $12.00
Electricians Scissors $15.00

OK. Let's look at "direct" costs.
2 RJ 45 plugs @ .25 each $.50
Scrap Cat 5e Solid wire Free
Total Direct costs $.50

Labor to assemble and verify completed Cat 5e at 100 Mb, $25,000/year low-end employee
Hourly wages (6 minutes per cable) $1.20

Typical burden labor multiplier for payroll, management, benefits is 2.5 x base salary
Burden on $1.20 wages $1.60

Total Cost of 1 patch cable
Labor cost for a "free" patch cable $2.80
Cost of 2 Solid-wire RJ 45 connectors .50
Indirect cost for tools and test equip .50
Estimated total cost $3.70

CONTRAST THIS WITH THE COST OF FACTORY-CERTIFIED CAT 5E, VERIFIED AT 350 Mb.
1 Ft Patch cable (1) $1.12 2-19 $1.07 20-199 $0.86
6 Ft Patch Cable (1) $1.35 2-9 $1.20 10-24 $1.14 25-99 $1.09 >100 $0.99
10 Ft Patch Cable (1) $1.99 2-9 $1.89 10-24 $1.59 25-99 $1.55 100-199 $149 >200 $1.45

(These prices were taken from the first hit on the web - and were NOT shopped for the lowest prices)

 

This does not even ATTEMPT to place a value on:

  • REDUCED DATA FLOW, from TCP retries, due to marginal wiring
  • Cutting the ends off cables that have opens, shorts, and crossed wires, when tested during assembly
  • Troubleshooting solid-wire RJ-45 faults and erratic connections in an operational environment.

THE NON-QUANTIFIABLE COSTS ARE THE REAL TIP-OF-THE-ICEBERG:

  • TCP is designed to get the data through the internet - even if there are very bad connections.  It will keep trying to send the data, until it gets it through - as long as there is any connection.  HOW MUCH DOES IT COST IF 100 EMPLOYEES, MAKING $50k, LOSE AN ADDITIONAL 5 MINUTES EACH DAY? 
  • You have heard it, "I'm sorry THE COMPUTER IS SLOW TODAY..."  More than likely, it is NOT the computer.  There is a very high probability that the network wiring is acting flaky today.  How much did that lost business cost?
  • How much does a "free" patch cable cost, if it causes a problem - and it takes a Systems Engineer and a Cisco router engineer 2 hours to diagnose and correct the problem?
  • These types of problems are referred to as "intermittent."  They rarely "break" (it would be much easier to diagnose and fix, if it were "broken.)" 
  • The symptoms of an improperly constructed and unverified network data cable are usually reflections of signals, attenuation, and lost packets - resulting in sluggish performance and virtually untraceable points of failure.
  • Usually, in a home-made network - there will be uncountable points of reflected signal, near-end cross-talk, far-end cross-talk, high capacitance readings and more.  These kinds of problems can ONLY be isolated by slow, meticulous end-to-end testing with high priced Time Domain Reflectometers, capacitance meters, and other professional equipment.
  • AND WORSE-OF-ALL!  After you correct ALL of the problems, you STILL HAVE those solid-wire connections.  They may have tested perfectly today - but tomorrow?????

"Free" scrap Cat 5e is SOLID WIRE - designed for type 110 punch blocks. You CAN purchase special solid wire RJ 45 Connectors - but these have a pair of copper "fangs" that penetrate the solid wire insulation - but it CANNOT PENETRATE THE WIRE. Normal day-to-day manipulation of Solid RJ 45 Connectors result in the wire turning inside the connector - ultimately resulting in weak mechanical connections and "flaky" network performance (does not always "fail" just slows data transfer rates down), due to the design of TCP which will continue trying to send/receive IP data hundreds of times, if necessary, to get an acceptable signal across the wire.

Factory-built patch cable is built from "stranded" (actually braided) wire, and not solid wire. The stranded wire RJ 45 has a multi-prong penetrator, that runs in-line with the wire. When the stranded RJ 45 is crimped to the stranded wire, the penetrator actually embeds itself into the wires, and "splays" over on the far side of the wire. There is little or no possibility of normal RJ 45 manipulation causing weak mechanical connections - and the electrical connection remains consistent. 

In addition, most factory-made Cat 5, Cat5e, and Cat-6 Patch cables are Verified to operate at the designed speeds (100 Mb for cat 5, 350 Mb for Cat-5e, and 500-750 Mb for Cat-6.  These verifiers are extremely expensive, and typical "home-made" cable makers can not afford the equipment to do much more than a Direct Current (Ohmmeter) continuity test.

Pictorial view of Factory-made stranded RJ-45 penetration vs home-made solid-wire RJ-45 CONTACT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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