No matter installing new cable, or troubleshooting the existing cable, cable testing plays an essential role in the process. Common tests for datacom cabling include length, wiremap, attenuation, NEXT, DC loop resistance, and return loss. When doing cable testing must with the Fiber Optic Test Equipment, and the Fluke Cable Tester is popular.
As networks evolve, so do the requirements of the cabling infrastructure to support them. New standards are continuously being developed to provide guidelines for cabling professionals when installing, testing, troubleshooting, and certifying either copper and fiber. Whether it’s 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX or 1000BASE-T, there are specific requirements and potential pitfalls in implementing these technologies. And 10GBASE-T, it becomes even more critical to keep current with the latest proliferations in cabling and cable testing.
Cable testing provides a level of assurance that the installed cabling links provide the desired transmission capability to support the data communication desired by the users. Cable test instruments are designed with a variety of focused features for particular field tasks. They vary in price, performance, and application.
For example, there are typically two types of tools for checking network connectivity: the network tester tool and the Fluke tester. Sometimes an engineer will carry a noise generator which not only checks ethernet networks but also telephone lines. Network tester tool is the network checker which plugs directly into the line and reads out what line is connected on that drop, or if there is no signal there. This can also be done with a laptop computer, but it is easier to carry a network tester, since it is far smaller. The Fluke tester will read all four twisted pairs of a cable right from the drop at the workstation all the way back to the server room and will show exactly which pairs are good and if any are crossed or open. The engineer can put a noise on the line and trace it back to the complex loom of cables in the server room all arriving in the same area at the main switch or patch panel.
Verification test tools perform basic continuity functions, they assure that all wires in a cabling link are connected to the proper termination points and not to any other conductors. In twisted pair cabling, it is critical to maintain the proper pairing of the wires. Better verification test tools also verify wire pairing and detect installation defects like “split pairs”. Verification test tools may also assist in troubleshooting by providing a toner to locate a cabling link. Verification tools sometimes include additional features such as an OTDR Tester to determine length of a cable or distance to a break or short circuit. These test tools do not provide any information on bandwidth or suitability for high-speed data communication.