When I first applied to be a writer here at MakeUseOf, one of the things I suggested and wanted to see more of was hardware based articles. I didn’t necessarily mean that we should cover the latest types of hard drives or the best MP3 players, as the Gizmodo blog does, but simply that we should give advice on all aspects of computers, be it a web interface, a software product, or Hardware.

I would like to present to you, our dear readers, with accessible and useful tips for hacking your equipment, to hopefully expand your experience or pique your interest in something other than what MakeUseOf usually does. So for my first hardware article, it would be right for me to pick a topic that many people would be familiar with, based on a technology that most people, if not every one of our readers, would have in their homes: Ethernet cables.


Now you may be wondering why you need to know how to make your own Ethernet cables. Okay, let me ask you: when you look at your ethernet cable, does it wind up in spools because it’s too long? Has the little tab on top ever fallen off and rendered your cable useless? Your cable looks perfectly fine, but for some strange reason just doesn’t work? Well, then this article might be helpful for you.

As for me, I work in a technology center that deals with network cables on a daily basis, and we also sell these cables to our customers. Many of these cables we sell are ones we manufacture and test ourselves, so knowing how to make an Ethernet cable is a necessary skill. Now I will pass this skill on to you.

how to make an ethernet cable

materials:

1. Scissors

2. An Ethernet crimp tool is not very expensive. I looked it up online and you can find some for less than ten dollars although most are in the $15-$20 range.

3. Ethernet connector — they are not very expensive. A bag of fifty costs about nine dollars on Amazon.

4. Either Cat5e cable reel or existing Ethernet cable. On Froogle, I’ve seen 100 foot reels of Cat5e cable for as little as $3.

Additionally : nippers. I just use scissors.

make an ethernet cable

First, if you’re just shortening the cable, you should cut it as long as you need, plus two to three inches more if you get tangled. If you are making a brand new cable from a reel, cut it to a four to six inch margin. If you are just replacing the connector, just cut the connector.

Now that you have your clean, cut wire, you need to make a notch about one inch down. You can use wire cutters specifically designed for cutting Ethernet wires, but I prefer to just use scissors. Be very careful not to cut any of the wires inside, though, or you’ll need to cut the whole thing off and start over. Make a few shallow cuts, and then push the rubber casing apart; This is the safest way to cut off the case without damaging the internal wires.

how to make an ethernet cable

As you can see, the package contains four sets of two stranded wires, one solid color and one striped color. Once you have fully opened the case, unwind the wires from each other and align them as best you can, just with your fingers. Using a tool at this point would be too risky because you don’t want to risk damaging the internal wires.

IMG_1101

In the picture above, you can see the order in which the wires should be placed. If you can’t distinguish clearly from the picture, the order should be from left to right, white/orange, orange, white/green, blue, white/blue, green, white/brown, brown. Fork the wires and make sure they are as straight as possible, then align them so that the wires lie flat next to each other, following the order you arranged them. Place your thumb firmly on the aligned wires, effectively securing them in order, in place.

At this point, if the wire ends don’t line up with each other, cut them so that the ends form a straight line, but be careful not to cut too much. You’ll need some extra wire to push through the connector, as you’ll see later.

IMG_1103

Now take the connector and make sure the flat side is facing up. If you look at the connector, you will see that each wire has its own slot at the very end of the connector. Hold your thumb over the wires, insert the wires into the connector, be very careful not to let the wires move or move.

Continue pressing on the wires until the tips touch the top edge of the connector. Look at the tip of the connector, and if you can see the copper innards of each wire, then you’ve pushed the wires far enough. Otherwise, you can try to adjust the misaligned wire using tweezers or pliers, or remove the entire bundle and try again.

IMG_1105

After making sure that all wires are properly connected to the connector, insert the connector into the appropriate hole in the Ethernet crimp. Squeeze as hard as you can and you should hear some plastic cracking. Most Ethernet crimps have a spring that, when actuated by compression, does not release until sufficient pressure is applied. Otherwise, just squeeze as hard as you can for 10-20 seconds and then consider your ethernet clamped.

IMG_1106

You are now almost done creating your Ethernet cable. The last step is to test it. If you have the Net Tool, you can check if the Ethernet connection is correct using the Net Tool. In the figure, all lines are parallel and continuous, except for the last one, which indicates a properly connected and working Ethernet. If one or more wires intersect with other wires, then you probably placed the colored wires in the wrong order before inserting them into the jack, or the wires rearranged themselves when you connected the jack. If one or more lines are broken, then your colored wires are either damaged or not pushed into the connector enough.

If you don’t have a network tool, the easiest way to test a new Ethernet cable is to plug it in where you would normally plug an Ethernet cable to get a wired Internet connection. Check if your internet is connected, and if not, then you need to cut off your head and try again. Otherwise, browse around a bit and celebrate because you’ve just made your first ethernet cable! (btw, if you’re building a brand new cable from scratch, you’ll need to plug in the connector on the other end using these same instructions before you can party)

You may have found this article instructive and thought this might be an interesting weekend project to try. Perhaps you think that this is just useless knowledge that will never be used. Anyway, we’d like to know what you think of these hardware articles and what you’d like to see from us in the future. Leave us your comments, and tell us where to go from here!

Image credit: The_Jorr

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