RJ-45 Female Socket Termination and Connection Issues

Marco Cardazzi

On July 11th In Installation & Cabling2 Comments
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Continuing on the discussion of common network connections we will now talk about the female RJ-45 socket. As with its male counterpart the RJ-45 socket is a standardized connector widely used in IP networking.

When examining an IP-enabled device that is being installed, such as an IP camera, the wired network connection will be a female RJ-45 socket. As these sockets are built in to the camera or other device there is little that a technician can do to verify or repair one of these sockets on a piece of powered equipment. Assuming that the male RJ-45 plug being connected to the device has been properly assembled and crimped the network communication should work.

Where security technicians might run into some problems is if the other end of a cable that is connected to an IP security device is plugged into an existing UTP patch panel or wall socket. The female Ethernet sockets on an IP camera or other network end device have been factory installed and tested. Female sockets within patch panels and on wall plates were terminated by human technicians and may or may not have been properly tested for complete functionality. It’s also possible that there has been some damage to the existing socket that happened after the initial installation and testing process.

Smart technicians will test every cable and connection before the final connection of an IP security device. UTP cable and connector testers are readily available and can be a valuable purchase. For example the Byte Bros. Pocket Cat provides complete continuity testing for UTP jumpers, long cables, and installed jacks.

Byte Brothers Pocket CAT Tester (ADI part# BY-CTX200)

It should be noted that one of the basic tenants of proper network cabling is that every single RJ-45 plug and female socket should have the individual conductors connected exactly to accepted standards, which in our industry is the EIA/TIA 568B standard. There should be no variation in how the individual conductors are placed within the connector. If a pair has been split, reversed, or a conductor simply doesn’t carry electricity these problems will be quickly detected by using the Pocket Cat tester.

If a female socket is found to have connectivity issues, technicians will need a specific tool to perform repairs. The Ideal Industries Punchmaster™ II is a quality tool that provides the punch down function needed to connect new female sockets and to re-seat the conductors in an existing socket.

Ideal Punchmaster™ II Punch Down Tool
(ADI part# IL-35485)

If a socket tests as defective, the first step is for the technician to determine whether the individual conductors are being terminated in the correct positions on the socket. Most sockets are labeled with the proper color combinations for both 568A and 568B terminations; our industry follows the 568B format.

Once the conductor placement has been verified, the second step in repairing a defective socket is to use the punch down tool to reseat the conductors into their proper locations. Here it’s important to understand your punch down tool. Punch tool tips have a cut and a non-cut side.  This is so that when used properly the act of punching down the conductor will cut off any excess conductor. So it’s critical that you know what side is which otherwise you may inadvertently cut off the wrong side, which will disconnect the conductor from the socket and likely require you to restrip and reinstall all of the conductors.

Once the verification of conductor location and repunching is completed, a technician should retest the socket to verify that the connection is functional. It’s possible that a socket has been internally damaged and a new one may be needed to replace the defective socket.

As was mentioned in the RJ-45 male plug blog post, it is important that only the least length of the twisted UTP conductors should be untwisted when terminating an RJ-45 female socket. If there is more than ½ inch of untwisted pairs extending out of the back the socket there’s the distinct possibility that that connection will be subject to unacceptable amounts of EMI and RFI interference.

There is generally great compatibility between the manufacturers of network RJ-45 plugs and sockets. For example, you can use plugs from Platinum tools inserted into Alcatel/Lucent female sockets and there should be complete functionality, provided that the technicians who terminated the devices did their jobs properly.

A large portion of networking connectivity problems boil down to the connectors and cabling. So technicians should equip themselves with the proper termination tools and testing equipment, and know how to use them properly.

Click here to see the full line of test equipment available through ADI.