Testing

If there was one thing I could rely on in my last school, it was that no problem was ever down to the infrastructure cabling.

The school’s network cabling had been done in house for years before I started there, and it was there that Bond taught me the fine art of Cat5e. I don’t remember us ever having an infrastructure cabling problem, except for the time it was chewed through by glis glis.

That meant that when I moved to my current school, I immediately decreed we would not be using contractors again any time soon, since I could take care of it and know I was doing a good job. This in turn led to me becoming intimately acquainted with several loft areas of the school over the summer, and more importantly, the purchase of my first Fluke Microscanner kit. At nearly £600, it was an expensive purchase, but worth every penny; I view it as an essential for anyone who takes network cabling even half seriously. If you can’t trust the cabling, you can’t trust the network.

Which is why I have subsequently become infuriated by the fact that the contractors who previously installed network cabling at the school clearly did not have one.

In fact, they did not appear to have a testing tool of any kind. It turns out that I should have decreed that any of our previous cabling contractors who ever showed their faces again on site would be repeatedly stabbed in the eyes with an IDC punchdown tool. I’ve already had to re-terminate patch panels in two separate buildings after discovering that they hadn’t been terminated properly, a fault that not only demonstrates utter incompetence, but is also impossible to miss if you use even a basic continuity tester.

I am the Angry Technician. I am a professional, and take my job seriously. That is why when I install cabling, I GODDAMN TEST IT.

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

10 responses to “Testing”

  1. webman says :

    We’ve always used one cabling contractor – Conex – and they’ve been perfect. Everything just works, and we have the same faith in our infrastrucutre than what you have in yours.

    I’m not saying ours is better; just that there can be good contractors out there :)

  2. Andy says :

    A lot of schools do the ‘best value’ thing which normally means Cat5+ cabling *can* be handed to electricians. I’m no electrician but I know most electricians don’t have the foggiest idea about proper Cat5+ cabling and termination. In the past I’ve had to re do whole suites days after completion either by myself or, due to numbers, buying in a firm to do it… I normally use LightPulse now to save me the trouble.

    • p858snake says :

      Um, it shouldn’t matter who is doing it, either electricians or not, as long as they are licensed.

      UTP cabling termination (especially Cat 5 and 6) only has two standards T568A and T568B which are the European and American standards respectively but you need to know both since cross over is just A to B.

      • Andy says :

        I should have said ‘untrained’ electricians. I swear some of the faceplates were terminated with a spoon.

  3. Jon says :

    There certainly is a difference between cablers and electricians. There is also a difference between professional cablers and the others. Neatness, termination, proper routes and bend radiuses help. There is also a difference in quality of kit, cables, patch panels and network sockets. If the cabler cannot do fibre they are not cablers.
    I can understand why AT may want to do his own cabling but please don’t fall through the ceiling and don’t drill through asbestos!

    • TheCrust says :

      I second that one about cheap kit!

      I’m currently using the half term break to completely repatch one of our comms cabinets to sort out the dogs breakfast of cables so we can accurately port map stuff and implement a VLAN.

      So far two modules have falled completely out of their patch panels, and about half a dozen more are loose – and I am being careful…..!

  4. Sanguinor says :

    We use a professional contractor here as well, now we do anyway, previously it was done by the local authority and we still have problems with their cabling. JPR are brilliant though, good cable, neat cabs, good price.

    Sorted.

  5. Dale says :

    The background is that I used to work in corporate education IT, I was a system admin for a 100 school administration system …

    I gave up cabling schools the day I tapped into a ceiling, and the school admin assistant popped her head around the corner and said
    “You know there’s asbestos in these ceilings???”

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