IDawn Technologies

Your Technology Provider for the World of Tomorrow

The All Mighty Category 5 Cable

Category 5 cable, or CAT5 as it is commonly know has lived a long and very accomplished life. From the day that the standard was first introduced in August of 1991 (yes, CAT5 is older than some of you guys reading this!) CAT5 has been working hard to carry all our bits and bytes to networked computers, letting us share files, browse the internet, and stream video, all at 100 Megabits per second. In 2001 CAT5 got a serious upgrade with an e, and CAT5e was released to give us speeds of up to 1 GBPS to handle all our Video, VoIP, and Application Sharing needs.

What many of you may not know however is that while the faithful CAT5 cable has been sitting under our desks, ferrying little 1s and 0s across our networks, it has also been living a second (third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh… You get the point…) life doing all sorts of other odd jobs for a fraction of the cost of traditional cables. CAT5, and now CAT5e is being used for everything from Telephone Systems, to Intrusion Detection Systems, Composite Video Transmission, and Power Transmission!

Now you may be asking yourself why/how does CAT5 do this? The answer is simple: To ensure that data travels correctly over a network, and does not get corrupted (in the form of dropped packets) the CAT5 Structured Cabling Standards have been developed to a very high level, to reduce the amount of noise induced by a cable, and cut down on the Near End Cross-Talk (known commonly as NExT in the industry). This makes CAT5 ideal for transmitting everything from Audio, to Video, to Power. In addition to this resilience, CAT5 cable has 4 individual pairs, for a total of 8 cores, this means that many signals, (I.E. Video, Left Audio, Right Audio, Power, Control Signals, etc) can be transmitted simultaneously over the same wire. This makes cable laying, and cable management a breeze!

Up until recently, IDawn Technologies has used 5C2V Coaxial Cable (good old normal Antenna Wire) for transmitting video from our CCTV Cameras to our Digital Video Recorders (DVRs). In addition to this Coaxial Cable, another two additional 1mm pure copper wires were needed for DC power transmission. On average this cost us about Rs. 125/- (a little over 1 USD) per meter of cabling, not including the cable trunking or conduit that needs to be used. On the subject of conduits and cable trunking, this merry little trio of wires that needs to be run individually to every camera from a central point needs at least a 3/4″ conduit or a 1″ cable trunking to fit in! Certain larger sites that we have done needed 4″ water down pipes to carry all the wires! Using CAT5e on the other hand, each camera only needs a single wire, and about 5 wires can fit inside a 3/4″ conduit and the best part: CAT5e costs less than Rs. 30/- (about 0.25 USD) per meter!

Another advantage of CAT5e is the ability to run it for long distances. Standard wire coils in Sri Lanka are only 100M long at the most, CAT5e however comes in 305M boxes, and the signal loss even when you run cable for over 200 meters is negligible.

There is however a catch when using CAT5e to do things that it was not meant for: You need converters or “Baluns” as they are known in the industry to properly adapt your regular RJ45 connector into whatever type of connector you need for your application. For CCTV we use special Video Baluns (like the one shown below) that have inbuilt power transformers, noise filters, and signal brushes to ensure that our video is of the highest quality.

So the next time you have a little DIY project that needs a lot of cabling, and you’re wondering how to get the costs under control, put “Using CAT5e” on the top of your list, and contact IDawn Technologies for an FOC over the phone consultation.

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