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Installing the Physical Network In this section we will learn how to recognize and describe a basic cabling system, learn how to explain the installation of structured cable, learn how to install a network interface card, and finally learn how perform basic troubleshooting on a cable network. A good network should be neatly structured and organized. TIA/EIA standards define the details we need to know for structured cabling. The goal of the standards is to create safe and reliable cabling for networks, telephone lines, video, and anything else that needs distributed cabling. The main things you need to know are the basics of cables, network components, and how to assess connections leading outside the network. A good pneumonic device for cable networks is "a star is born". The most basic star network is one switch, a UTP cable, and some PCs. The issue is keeping this network simple, including organizing the cables optimally. To organize these networks we use the telecommunications room, horizontal cabling, and a work area. These are the three components of structured cable networks. The telecommunications room is simply the room where network lines end via the horizontal cabling that runs from the work area to the telecommunications room. Solid core cabling is a better option than stranded core, but it is more fragile and can break if not handled properly. These cables can run through the ceiling and use four-pair UTP typically. However, some telephone setups use 25 and 100 pair UTP connections. Consider the network's requirements when choosing the right cable for you. The telecommunications room is the heart of the network and contains the IDF, or intermediate distribution frame, and your equipment racks. These racks vary in height and house equipment of a standardized width in U units. One U = 1.75 in. The patch panel box houses female connectors and is also referred to as a 110-punch down block. Punch down tools allow you to punch stranded wires onto 110 blocks. It's important to label your connections as it can be confusing to manage all of these connections. Patch cables are short cables of various colors used to connect network devices. With the racks and horizontal wiring installed, we need to define our work area. This involves a female jack with PCs connected to a wall outlet. This area is the source of most network failures, and cabling an entire building can be complex. In large networks, telephone wires run along a vertical backbone from a demarcation point. Demarc extensions run through the MDF, or telecommunications room. When planning your network, you first want to obtain a floor plan of the building. With a floorplan, you can determine where to put and pull cabling through cable trays above the drop ceiling. It's important to maintain good cable management with mounting brackets and cable guides. When connecting these pulled wires, you will need to work with crimps and faceplates to install a mounting bracket. Doing all this cabling on your own only requires a few tools. Start with a stranded cable that matches whatever CAT standard you are working with and an RJ-45 crimper, a pair of wire snaps, and the instructions on Pg. 123 in Ch. 6. After cutting your wire, stripped back the sheathing to expose the twisted pairs. Insert the strands into the numbered RJ-45 connections and use your crimper to crimp the cable. After you've finished, add a boot to your connection and continue connecting to your patch panel. You can identify issues and maintain these networks with simple tools like cable testers, TDRs, and other more high-end tools that can detect interference. Testing the termination of these UTP fibers can involve using a fiber termination kit, and TIA/EIA has very complex and rigorous standards for testing fiber. This means learning about attenuation, light leakage, and the different type of NICs. UTP Ethernet NICs typically use RJ-45 connectors, while fiber optic NICs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Many computers have built-in NICs plugged into PCI expansion slots, also known as Peripheral Component Interconnects. Next is the installation of proper drivers, testing for bonding, and identifying LED link lights if they are available. Optical connection testers can verify these connections, and you need to be able to carry out diagnostics on these connections. If a cable does not work on any port, the issue is with the cable and not the connectors. A loopback test can help you carry out a loopback test for individual connections. Most issues you encounter will come from the work area, and the next place you should check is the telecommunications room. Toners are another tool that can be used to test cabling, and it's important to check your uninterruptible power supply if you are using one. Finally, environmental issues like temperature and humidity can be monitored prevented with environmental monitors.