Punch Down Tools User Guide

The term “punch down” is used for the physical force needed to pierce or take away the cable insulation while the connection is being made. Punch down tools or krone tools (named after the Krone LSA-Plus connector) are widely used for copper network built by Ethernet cables including cat 5, cat 5e, cat 6, etc. As we know, these copper cables can be connected with keystone jacks, cross-connect blocks, patch panels and surface mount boxes. Therefore, the function of punch down tools is to insert the wires into the IDC (insulation-displacement connectors) on these terminations. This post is going to introduce some basic knowledge about punch down tools and the proper way to use them.

punch-down-tools

Operation Principle of Punch Down Tools

Many punch down tools are composed of a handle, an internal spring mechanism and a removable slotted blade. After positioning the wire into a slotted post on a punch down tool, just pressing down the tool on top of the wire over the post. Then the internal spring will be triggered by the required pressure and the blade pushes the wire into the slot. At the same time, the blade cuts the insulation and secures the wire.

punch-down-process

Instructions for Using Punch Down Tools

Step one, make preparations before punching down a wire. When gripping the punch down tool in one hand, you should ensure that the cutting blade is facing down. Then coil the wire through the connection block terminal by another hand.

Step two, punch down the wire. You should firmly hold the wire’s end in hand and set the tool’s blade on the selected connection terminal. Then pressing the tool forward with a straight move until reaching the bottom of terminal. If you are doing it right, any excess wire would be cleanly cut off and the remaining wire would be easily connected to the terminal.

Step three, check the wire connection. Make sure the connection is secure and no broken or loose wire is left in the connection block. You can test to see if the wire is indeed fastened securely to the right terminal by tugging on it.

Helpful Tips

Tip one, always wear safety goggles or glasses when using the punch down tools. Because small pieces of wire will fly in all directions during the punch down process, which is a potential risk to your eyes.

Tip two, if the wire slips out of the connection block, you can use a flat head screwdriver to slightly increase the pressure applied by the punch down tool.

Tip three, if using the highest pressure setting, the tool still cannot cut through the cable. Then the cutting edge must become dull. This means that you need to replace the blade with a new one.

Tip four, do not use a punch down tool to tighten up flat head screws as this can break or shatter the blade.

Tip five, though most models are made of plastic, punch down tools can still conduct current. Keep this in mind when working with electrical circuits.

Tip six, you should always carry at least one extra blade for each type of termination that you are doing. Blades don’t break often, but they do break occasionally.

Tip seven, a 4” square of carpet padding or mouse pad makes a good palm protector when punching down cable on modular jacks.

Conclusion

Punch down tools are usually applied to data or telecom network wiring in computers, phones and audio devices. Of course, many types of punch down tools are available to meet different requirements. Good tools even have replaceable blades. Employing punch down tools greatly accelerates the working efficiency and reduces the task difficulty. It is important for technicians to use them in daily applications.

Gigabit Ethernet Cabling Solution

Born in the 1970s, Ethernet technology has continually evolved in order to meet the never-ending requirement for faster rates of data transmission. Through this ongoing evolution, it has matured into the foremost technology standard for local area networks (LANs) as newer, higher performing iterations, such as 1 Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet. There is a variety of types of cables available for making Ethernet connections at speeds of 1 Gigabit and 10 Gigabit per second. This paper provides a brief introduction to these two types of high speed Ethernet cabling solution, 1 Gigabit Ethernet cabling and 10 Gigabit Ethernet cabling.

1 Gigabit Ethernet Cabling

When planning 1 Gigabit Ethernet cabling infrastructure, generally you have two choices: fiber optic or copper. Both offer superior data transmission. From the aspects of fiber cabling choices and copper cabling choices, solutions to 1 Gigabit Ethernet cabling are introduced as follows.

Fiber Cabling Choices

There are two common types of fiber cable available for 1 Gigabit Ethernet, single mode and multi-mode. Both cables provide high bandwidth at high speeds. There are a few other possibilities for range, mode, and wavelength, but the following two are predominate.

  • Short Range: SR—for connections of up to 550 meters in length.
  • Long Range: LR—for connections of up to 10 KM in length.

Fiber optic cable itself and connectors are used for fiber cabling. There are multiple choices for cable type and connector type. Multi-mode fibers and single mode fibers require different connectors. And optical fiber connections are constructed with a combination of a transceiver. The transceiver accepts digital signals from the Ethernet device and converts them to optical signals for transmission over the fiber. SFP (small form factor pluggable transceiver) is the most common type of transceiver used in 1 Gigabit Ethernet connections. The following is a picture of SFP transceiver modules.

SFP Transceivers

Copper Cabling Choices

For 1 Gigabit Ethernet cabling, category 5 cable, commonly referred to as cat5, is a common choice. The cable standard provides performance of up to 100 MHz and is suitable for Gigabit Ethernet. Most cat5 cables are unshielded twisted pair cables, relying on the balanced line twisted pair design and differential signaling for noise rejection. Cat5e, an enhanced version of the category 5 specification was introduced several years ago. Cables of up to 100 meters in length can be used. RJ45 copper SFP transceiver module (Mini-GBIC) is built to offer a cost-effective way to add, replace or upgrade a copper Ethernet port on your networking equipment.

10 Gigabit Ethernet Cabling

10 Gigabit Ethernet cabling is very similar to 1 Gigabit Ethernet cabling. Solutions to 10 Gigabit Ethernet cabling are also introduced in fiber cabling choices and copper cabling choices.

Fiber Cabling Choices

For 10 Gigabit Ethernet cabling, the fiber options are very similar to 1 Gigabit Ethernet cabling. But the range is less due to the higher speed. In general, there are three distance ranges.

  • Short Range: SR—for connections of up to 300 meters in length.
  • Long Range: LR—for connections of up to 2,000 meters in length.
  • Extended Range: ER—for connections of up to 10,000 meters (10 KM) in length.

The transceivers for 10 Gigabit Ethernet cabling are somewhat different. XFP or SFP+ transceivers are used to connect these 10 Gigabit Ethernet cables. The connector type itself defines the mechanical specifications of the fiber-to-transceiver interface. Thus one could have an XFP transceiver on one end of a 10 Gigabit fiber cable and an SFP+ transceiver on the other end. As long as the cable type and connector type match there is no problem. The following is a picture of XFP transceiver module.

XFP

Copper Cabling Choices

As switching standards mature and copper cabling standards catch up, the use of copper cabling for 10GbE is becoming more common. Currently, there are two different copper cabling technologies for 10 Gigabit Ethernet, each with different price and performance capabilities.

10GBase-CX4, published in 2004, was the first 10 Gigabit Ethernet copper standard. CX4 was relatively economical and allowed for very low latency. It uses a coaxial copper cable and can support cable lengths of up to 15 meters. Its disadvantage was a too-large form factor for high density port counts in aggregation switches.

10GBase-T was released in 2006 to run 10 Gigabit Ethernet over cat6a and cat7 copper cabling up to 100 meters. While promising, 10GBase-T still needs technology improvements to lower its cost, power consumption, and latency. Like copper cabling choices for 1 Gigabit Ethernet, 10GBase-T still uses RJ45 copper transceiver to provide reliable connections.

Just as there are many manifestations of 1 Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet standards to suit various networking environments, there are also many copper and fiber cabling technologies to support them. Companies must have a solid understanding of not only their environment and need, but also the different standards and cabling technologies available to them. Doing so will help them develop a sound migration and cabling strategy.