Cable testing software
This afternoon I've been trying to find a link back to the comms room in a room that was wired years before I took the job, using a patch pannel guide that was out of date and had mistakes on it (the network point on the diagram did not match up with the patch pannel it said it did!) The room is also full of old Cat 5 cable and is a significant distance from the comms room.
I was thinking about getting a tool that would anaylise a cable and check to see how long it was, if it was wired properly, maximum potential throughput (10/100/1000 mpbs), and what type of cable it was (cat 5/ cat 5e etc.) and fluke do some tools but the ones I'm looking at start at about £700. Not quite sure how I'd justify the cost to the school! Would spend one holiday updating the documentation and looking for areas taht won't support gigabit then it'd only get used if there was a problem with the wiring (which is rare.)
Can you get a software equivilant (maybe with small device that plugs on the other end of the cable) that goes on a laptop or netbook and does all this but at a cheaper price?
I know we used to borrow one of a local college IT support team, it might be worth seeing if a few schools would chip in to buy a fluke tester, that or see if someone rents/hires them?
The LinkRunner Pro is the ideal tool for your needs in the frontline but your right at £700 it's not cheap and to be honest they "EAT" AA batteries.
After 3 months of constantly feeding it I bit the bullet and paid another £120 for the Li-Ion Battery Pack which literally lasts weeks between charges!
Im a Fluke fanatic and have just about one of everything in my tool kit in fact I own two Link Runners! One I bought, the other I won in a compo!
The biggest problem with Fluke kit is that they don't make a single tool that does everything you will want!
You will always need the one tool above or below in the range as well!
My current collection consists of,
2 x Link Runner Pro with reflector UG
1 x NetTool MK1 with Voip UG
1 x Cable IQ kit
1 x IntelliTone 200
1 x NetTool MK II
1 x Etherscope
1 x Aircheck
1 x DTX 1800 with Fibre Modules
They have just knocked £7k off the price of an Optiview so now Im going to have to sell something like a kidney just to feed my filthy habit.....
Its rather cheeky but you could get a Fluke Optiview on a free, 3 day, no obligation trial:
(see bottom of page)...
Won't give you everything you want but If you want cheap you could always use something like this TENMA|72-8500|TONE AND PROBE SET | CPC to trace the cable from a network socket to the patch panel and then use something like this TENMA|72-8495|LAN TESTER AND DMM | CPC to check it is wired properly.
The LANScraper NT700 seems to pretty much meet my needs and is just £250. It says it detects voltages for VOIP but doesn't mention PoE, the NT800 does mention PoE and has a nicer looking interface but I don't think I can justify the £250 difference.
Likewise, the Fluke one looks a lot nicer to use and also tests fiber and tests actual speed rather than advertised speed but doesn't seem to offer much more than the netscraper. I'd deffo prefer to use the fluke though, but the LANscraper will do the job.
None of the products quite do what i'd hope they do (plug in the tester and it works out the cable length, counts the twists and works out if it's cat5/ cat5e or cat 6), but I could still use it with a gigabit hub or laptop NIC configured to 1Gbps to test to see if the cabling supports gigabit from what I've read in the specs and manuals.
The hub blink feature all the products use will be very handy!
Quite fond of the £3.99 cable testers from Ebay - cheap, cheerful, easy to use, do end-to-end cable wiring tests and useful for testing patch panels and end-of-run cabling :D (naturally it won't tell you anything like cable lengths, quality etc) Of course a fluke tester will be the best way and they're definitely a great investment!