Strip And Crimp: Cut Costs By Cutting Your Own Cables - InformationWeek

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Commentary
11/5/2009
09:17 PM
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Strip And Crimp: Cut Costs By Cutting Your Own Cables

Sometimes, it's the little things that can save your company a bundle of money. Creating your own network cables is a perfect example.

Sometimes, it's the little things that can save your company a bundle of money. Creating your own network cables is a perfect example.When I go to a big-box electronics store, I like to check the prices on their Cat 5 (Ethernet) cables. I guess it's just the cheap thrill that I get from the sticker shock. These places think about cabling the way a fast food joint thinks about sodas: a product that costs them pennies and earns them dollars in return.

There are also networking consultants who will charge you $60 an hour to run network cables in your office. My electrician charges that much -- and the last time I checked, nobody has ever burned down a building with a bad Cat 5 connection.

It doesn't have to be this way. If you can operate a pair of scissors without slicing off your own thumb, then you probably have the basic skills required to cut and crimp your own Cat 5 cables. It's easy and it's cheap.

How cheap? You can pick up 1,000 feet of bulk cable on eBay for $40, and a pack of RJ-45 connectors will cost less than $10. A good crimper (a one-time investment) will set you back between $30 and $40. Even if this approach didn't save money compared to buying pre-packaged Cat 5 cables -- and it almost always will -- it is more convenient and a lot less wasteful.

Get started with LinuxPlanet's illustrated tutorial on crimping your own Ethernet cables. It's clear, concise, and will probably tell you everything you need to know. Unlike most hardware-related IT tasks, this one rarely hits you with any nasty, last-minute surprises or inexplicable bugs (knocking on wood).

Another excellent guide is available at wikiHow, including a brief video tutorial. Finally, if you're the type of person who likes more information than they actually need to do a job (that describes me perfectly), check out developer Steven Nikkel's tutorial on the subject.

If you're the in-house IT guru for your small business, then Cat 5 cable crimping is exactly the sort of job that can make you seem even more indispensable than you already are. Don't tell anyone just how easy it really is, and they will probably never know.

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