Why bad connections can happen to good installers

Although manufacturers of connection devices continue to develop better products, the task of terminating communication cables is still challenging. In some cases, however, an incorrect termination that can lead to possible system failure can still be made.

Jan 1st, 1995

David Long, Ideal Industries Inc.

Problem

Although manufacturers of connection devices continue to develop better products, the task of terminating communication cables is still challenging. In some cases, however, an incorrect termination that can lead to possible system failure can still be made.

Using an improper tool can cause many problems, for example:

- Cutting cable with unsuitable tools can change the cable geometry and damage the conductors, making proper insertion in the connecting device (blocks, pins or modular plugs) difficult.

- Using a knife, razor blade or scissors to strip the jacket from a communication cable can damage cable insulation or shields. Nicked pairs and reduced shields or dielectrics can lead to connection failure.

- A punchdown tool that relies on simple operator touch can result in less than full insertion. Inadequate compression or insertion of connecting devices can result in termination failure or inadequate system performance. Obtaining less than a full crimp or insertion can lead to connection failures caused by conductor pullout, intermittent contact and impedance changes.

Solutions

1) Use cutting tools designed for the cable. Do not use diagonal cutters, scissors or building wire cutters for cutting communication cables. Appropriate cutting devices feature correct blade angles and cutting mechanisms that provide a clean separation with little change in the geometry of the cable components.

2) Put away penknives, razor blades or scissors. Use stripping tools that control the depth, and in some cases the spacing, of the jacket removal. Tool designs that provide speed, quality and consistency in stripping operations include rotary single-blade devices, clothes-pin styles and multiple-blade cassette strippers.

3) Use punchdown tools with impact mechanisms. Select compression connection tools that use a full-cycle ratchet mechanism. These tools apply adequate force to a die set that transfers the force to all required points of contact on the connector being installed. The ratchet mechanism ensures the crimping action is complete and provides uniform, consistent connections.

David Long is data communications market manager at Ideal Industries Inc., Sycamore, IL.

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