A Toolbox “Must-have”: Finding Network Faults With the CableMaster 210
Softing has released a network cable tester with continuous testing, tone generation, and individual conductor testing, allowing users to troubleshoot for a faulty or incorrectly connected cable quickly.
Softing is a provider of industrial and IT data exchange-related products and services. The industrial product line consists of industrial-grade Ethernet switches, cable management, and special expansion cards for connecting PLCs to cloud gateways or SQL databases. At the same time, the IT product line offers copper and fiber cabling solutions, Ethernet networking solutions, and cable testers.
Recently, Softing has introduced the CableMaster 210, a compact cable tester with features such as continuous testing, tone generation, and individual conductor testing.
Softing's CableMaster 210 is a handheld network cable tester. Image adapted and used courtesy of Softing
When building large industrial Ethernet networks, troubleshooting can be difficult. Ethernet switches are not always in accessible places, and the distance between switches can be up to 100 m away from each other—even further if using fiber optic cables.
Inside an Ethernet cable are up to four pairs of very small gauge solid copper conductors that transmit data at high speed between devices. If these wires are broken or not connected correctly at the RJ45 connector, the cable will not transmit the signals correctly.
Some companies will buy the cable in bulk and crimp the connector on the end after the cable is run through walls or equipment. If it is determined after troubleshooting that the cable is defective, all that work will need to be repeated.
Four pairs of very small gauge solid copper conductors transmit data at high speed between devices inside an Ethernet cable. Image used courtesy of Wikimedia
Network Cable Solutions
Luckily there is a solution to these issues: a network cable tester. These testers are used to ensure there is connectivity on each pair of conductors and that the pairs are connected in the correct order. You can also use a cable tester to determine where the other end of the cable is by using an audible feature of the tester.
Network cable testers are used to ensure that wires aren't broken and are connected correctly. Image used courtesy of Unsplash
Softing offers a wide range of cable testers with different features, but the CableMaster 210 is a compact, efficient version that is economical and compact enough to put in your pocket, toolbox, or laptop bag.
The CableMaster 210 is battery-operated and comes with sending and remote receiving units. The receiving unit is stored at the bottom of the sending unit for ease of use. The device offers a large backlit LCD display with only three buttons to use the system.
Each conductor's test results are displayed on the LCD screen in a large, easy-to-read status. Battery life, mode, and overall test results are displayed at the top of the screen.
The CableMaster 210 is capable of testing cables of up to 304 m in length and has both continuous testing mode as well as single test mode. A tone generator function is also included but does require an optional accessory. The tones can be sent on any pair or single conductor, which allows finding even broken cables.
The CableMaster 210 simplifies cabling—a toolbox "must-have." Image used courtesy of Unsplash
Machine builders are having to become more involved in networking as more devices become Ethernet enabled. With this newfound responsibility, controls engineers are having to troubleshoot networks and Ethernet cables. While some machine builders only use manufactured cables and some will make their own, there is no guarantee that the cable will be made correctly or that it didn’t break during installation.
Having an easy-to-use and economical tester in one's tool kit enables quick troubleshooting if the cable is a connection problem or if the problem requires looking elsewhere.