Weird Problem After Running Cat5e

Created by ZipCrash on March 15, 2012, 6:55 p.m.
  • Hey guys, I need help as I seem to have a weird problem and I just can't seem to figure out what's going on. 
    I recently ran cat5e cable into 5 different rooms in my house. I'm having a problem with the jack in my living room where I can't get my Xbox (with XMBC), Xbox 360, or my Blu-Ray to connect to my router or even recognize that there is a network there. However, this is what makes it weird: If I plug my netbook into the same jack, it works perfectly fine. I have tested the line with my cable tester and it doesn't show any issues. I have redone the jacks to make sure there was no problems with the connection (even though cable tester shows good connection). If I run a 100 foot cable from the same router into the same devices in the living room and it works perfectly fine. I just can't seem to figure out what is going on. I'm not super knowledgeable with this stuff but I do have some experience with running cat5 and making patch cables and I've just never experienced an issue like this where a computer will connect fine but other devices won't.  
    Any help is greatly appreciated! 
  • It sounds like the cable is punched down as a crossover instead of a straight-through. The NIC in your computer can switch automatically back and forth between the two modes (a technology called MDIX), but the media devices probably aren't capable of that.
  • @lane: I just double checked after seeing your post and unfortunately that's not it. Both jacks, in fact all 10 jacks, are in the same color pattern. 
    EDIT: Also when running the cable tester it lights up correctly in the correct pattern for a straight-through (1-1,2-2, etc) and not a crossover (1-8,2-7, etc).
  • @ZipCrash: 
    Then I'm stumped. That was my only idea. =\
  • @lane: lol it was a good one. Sounded perfect until I double checked it. :) 
    On another note: would shielding have anything to do with it? I was looking at the spool I got and I noticed it says unshielded. Obviously, if I had realized, I would have purchased shielded. However, if there was interference on the line wouldn't that cause it to not work on a PC as well?  
    EDIT: Thanks for your replies anyway. :)
  • @ZipCrash:
    Some nics do have better error detection to reduce cross talk and other interference, So its not all out unlikely. Not to mention I do not know how the cable was run usualy one would buy something in wall rated or if run through ducting plenum rated cable. Does the xbox connect in any of the other rooms? if so your only real options are to re do your terminations or re run a new cable.
  • @cripplecaptain: I haven't tried the xbox in any other rooms. I will do that soon, it's a good idea. Fortunately, re-running the cable isn't going to be too bad since the hard of part of drilling the holes and cuttings the holes in the drywall for the panels is already done. Dropping $50 on another spindle of cat5e cable is going to suck though. lol I'll do some tests and report back. Thanks for the suggestions.
  • @ZipCrash: 
    That could do it, especially if it's run parallel to power lines. Normally unshielded is fine for running in walls, and you definitely don't need plenum-rated cable, but if there's a lot of noise in the walls then you might need to get something with a shield. Shielded cable's a bitch to run, though, so if you can't find places where your runs go alongside power, you might just try CAT6 since it has a better signal to noise ratio.
  • @lane:
    yes I suppose mentioning plenum cable at all in this particular non office building application was perhaps unecessary.... :/ 
    But id also recommend cat6 as you may as well go with something more leading edge considering the relatively low price difference.
  • @lane: @cripplecaptain: I tried the Xbox in other rooms and same issue. I figure it has to be the unshielded thing. Cat5e shielded is about $55 while Cat6 shielded seems be around $100 so that is a bit out of my price range. However, I don't need 1000ft, I really need 300-400ft but nobody seems to sell bulk cable in anything less than a 1000ft. So why is cat5e shielded harder to run? Is it a stiffer cable because of the shielding? If I went with cat6 would I need shielded or is unshielded cat6 acceptable? Appreciate the help guys!
  • @ZipCrash: Yea I know, it's under a 100 feet.
  • @ZipCrash: 
    Whoops sorry, read this last night but got distracted and didn't reply. Yes, shielded cable is much stiffer. It can be a huge PITA to run if you don't have much room to work with. If you think there's power running alongside your cable runs, I'd try shielded CAT5e. If not, I'd try CAT6. Shielded CAT6 is the nuclear option.
  • @lane: So one would assume cat6 would be easier to run than cat5e shielded correct? I'll probably go that route if it's easier to run and it's a bit more affordable than cat6 shielded.
  • @ZipCrash: 
    Yes. It's thicker than CAT5 but not as stiff as shielded cable. Once again, though, if electrical interference is the problem, you need shielded cable. Just make sure you're not wasting money.
  • @lane: It's really the only thing left that makes sense. I didn't run the cable myself so I don't know if it's running next to power lines but I imagine it would. Especially since several of the jacks are pretty close to power outlets in the drywall. I need to get into the crawl space and double check it but the ground is covered in snow and I'm too lazy to dig out my crawl space entrance. lol I'll check it later today after it warms up a bit. Thanks. :)
  • I run network cables as part of my job all the time and have been for about 17 years. There is some info in this thread which might be pointing you in the wrong direction. Typical max segment length for cat5e is about 100meters, not feet so unless your run is over 300 feet, this isnt the likley cause. As far as shielded vs unshielded, you can run a 100 feet of UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cat5e and get a 1gbit connection without any issues undermost circumstances.    Problems can arise from running UTP to close to electrical equipment, but interference is not as big/common of an issue as people think. Also most interference problems show themselves as slow or cycling up & down connections, not outright no-connection. The most likely cause to the problem is something simpler that is being overlooked.  
    A few things to check  
     You said you tested with a 100' cable and that worked fine. Is the problem cable run using keystone jacks, which would be using a patch cable on one or both ends? (possible that the patch cable is bad and slipped your mind to test it). When you said you tried your laptop on this connection, did you unplug whichever cable (straight from the run, or the same patch cable) and plug that into your laptop? Or did you use a different patch cable. When you had your laptop connected, did you verify that the connection was wired and that it was connected at the appropriate speeds (100mbit full duplex, 1000mbit full duplex)? I've seen people testing wired connections on their laptops only to not notice their laptop was also connected wirelessly. Also, what type of cable tester are you using? Does it simply say good bad for each pair? 
    EDIT: I just realized you said you tried your xbox in multiple rooms. If you were having an interference problem on one cable, it would be highly unlikely to affect all your cables unless they were running into something where they meet. When you brought the xbox into the other rooms, did you use the same patch cable to connect to those cables? (unless you just used crimp on jacks). 
  • @rbanke: A lot of great thoughts there but unfortunately I had all the same thoughts. I tried multiple patch cables, ones I made and ones I didn't make. Ran them ALL through the tester to make sure and the ones I didn't make I've been using for years without problems.When testing with my laptop, the first thing I did was disable wireless as to not have that issue. I had heard both that 100ft and 100 meters was the max but it's under a 100ft run anyway so it's not an issue regardless. I am using keystone jacks and punching down the cables with a punch tool (not the plastic tool in the box). I was thinking about crimping the jacks instead of using keystone jacks to see if maybe that was the problem but got side tracked with the shielded vs unshielded discussions. I had the same thoughts that interference shouldn't cause to just not work but like I said I'm not super knowledgeable and was leaving it up to the experts. I did get into the crawl space a few minutes ago and there really isn't any electrical lines running next to the cable unless it's within the drywall it self. It really doesn't seem like it's an interference issue to me but I don't know what else it could possibly be. I'm using I appreciate your reply because I was about ready to drop $55 on new cable but I'm not sure if that's necessary now.  
    EDIT: Also I'm using a TRENDnet cable tester:
  • @rbanke: Ok so I did some more messing around and all it really did was confuse me more. First I crimped the ends of the cable running to living room. Didn't change anything. However, I plugged the cable directly into my router instead of running through my switch and bam it worked. I have multiple things running through that switch that all work fine. If I take that 100ft patch cable and run it out, it works fine through the switch. I swapped out the switch for another one I have and I get the same result. These are two switches that I used in the various apartments I've lived in with the same devices, all worked fine. The only thing different here is that some cable is running under the house instead of along the floor boards. The only thing that possibly comes to mind is that the quality of the cable is such that degrading over the distance and the switch is just degrading it more? I have no tech knowledge to back that, just a random thought. I'm going to make a 100ft patch cable with the same cable that is running under the house and see what results I get.
  • @ZipCrash:  
    Definitely an odd issue, but I would still hesitate to blame the cable itself (unless of course it's physically damaged somewhere). Also, the switch wouldn't degrade the signal, it works as a repeater. You should be looking for little things, like a bad RJ45 connector or loose termination (which can check out but fail when moved around a bit) something like that. Just so I'm clear, you unplugged the patch cable from the switch (coming from the xbox) and plugged this same patch cable into the router and that worked? Also, punch down keystone jacks tend to be more reliable than crimp on connectors so i'd stick with those once you figure this out.
  • @rbanke: What I have setup now, is the cable running under the house is crimped on both ends. When I plug that cable into the switch, it doesn't work. If I plug it directly into the router it works. I just made a patch cable off the same spool of cable that is under the house and I had the exact same results. I tried a different 100ft store bought patch cable and the same 100ft store bought patch cable that I tried a few nights ago (both are the same brand and are UTP). Both of those cables work through the switch and through the router. Therefore, it HAS to be the cable I purchased on the spool. Can it be just a quality issue?
  • @ZipCrash:  
    It could be poor quality cable just very rare to have all your runs be bad. Ive come across some pretty crappy cable over the years, but never to the point where it was just unusable. You said you're sure they are not crossover cables right? Straight through cable has the same pattern when held side by side (seems like you know this though).  If the cable was mistakenly made as a crossover cable, and the router supported auto-mdix but the switch didn't, this would be exactly what you would experience. I'd even say you should post a pic of the two ends of the cable you crimped (hope that doesn't sound condescending, just trying to be helpful) 
     what model switch & router btw?
  • @rbanke: Yea I've very aware of the difference between crossover and pass-through but I'll post a pic regardless. It never hurts to a second eye. I'm pretty sure at this point it's a quality issue. I've gone through the eBay feedback for the guy we bought the cable from and he does have several negatives for poor quality cable. If I wasn't in a rush when we were moving I would have seen that and not bought from him. Oh well though, live and learn.  
    EDIT: Oh and my main switch is a D-Link DES-1105. The other is a Cisco/Linksys EZXS55W. Router is Netgear WNR2000.
  • @ZipCrash:  
    Yea your right. Is this cable stranded core? Stranded core does not work well for punch down or crimp connectors, you definitely want solid core. Either way, you've tried most everything you can. Go ahead and try different brand cable. As far as getting UTP Cat5e from ebay, you're better off looking in your area for an electrical contractor supply store. Most will sell to the public and you will pay a more reasonable price. I picked up 1000' spool of UTP cat5e last week for 85 bucks and it's high quality. 
  • @rbanke: I don't know if it's stranded as auction page doesn't specify. I did just realize though that the auction page states the cable is CCA instead of pure copper. So there's the quality issue. UGH, if only I had looked closer. I can get a 1000ft UTP cat5e (pure copper) off eBay for $60 with free shipping. So I'll probably just go that route. If you wouldn't mind, could you take a look at this item and tell me if you see anything wrong with it? Thanks so much for all your help and thanks to everybody else who replied helping me out as well. 
  • @ZipCrash:  
    Copper Clad Aluminum is your problem. CCA cable is absolute trash (seems like realise this). Stranded core is what I meant, meaning if you remove the insulator on one of the wires, stranded would be lots of small wires, solid core would be one solid wire. The link you posted looks just fine. It looks as if this is the manufacturer just selling on ebay, you should be good with this.     
    Your welcome for the help, hope pulling the new cable isnt too much of a PITA ;)
  • @rbanke: Buying off eBay saves me shipping. Buying off the website they want $10 shipping. lol Re-running the cable shouldn't be too bad. The hard part is done. Just tape and pull now. :) Thanks again, you saved me from wasting my money on shielded cable. I was literally seconds away from ordering shielded cable from the same seller until I refreshed this thread. 
  • @rbanke: I'm having the exact same problems with the new cable. WTF?! This is frustrating. If I plug the cable directly into the router it works fine. As soon as I put a switch into the mix, on either end, it doesn't work. I'm completely at a loss. If I run a cable from my router to my switch and then plug my xbox 360 and ps3 into it, it works fine. It's only when I run the cable through the wall when it becomes an issue. 
    EDIT: Never mind. Sorry, my mistake. I screwed up the punch down on the keystone jack. It works now. :)

  • @ZipCrash said:
    " @rbanke: I'm having the exact same problems with the new cable. WTF?! This is frustrating. If I plug the cable directly into the router it works fine. As soon as I put a switch into the mix, on either end, it doesn't work. I'm completely at a loss. If I run a cable from my router to my switch and then plug my xbox 360 and ps3 into it, it works fine. It's only when I run the cable through the wall when it becomes an issue.  EDIT: Never mind. Sorry, my mistake. I screwed up the punch down on the keystone jack. It works now. :) "
    haha, glad its worked out. Throw that other cable as far away as you can.