Image Credit: Test Equipment Depot | Extech | Megger
Cable testers are handheld, benchtop, or floor-standing electronic devices that measure the electrical and physical properties of cabling. They are used to certify cabling to published standards, and as a troubleshooting tool.
Types of Cables
Cable testers are used with many different types of cables. Common types of cabling include:
- Category 3 (Cat 3), Category 5 (Cat 5) and Category 6 (Cat 6) cables
- Coaxial, triaxial, and twisted pair
- RG6 and RG11
- Fiber optic, fibre channel, and IEEE 1394
- Parallel, serial, and universal serial bus (USB)
- Small computer system interface (SCSI) and general-purpose interface bus (GPIB)
Ethernet and local area network (LAN) cables
Cable testers are also used to test cabling for proprietary interfaces and architectures such FireWire®, a registered trademark of Apple Computer, Inc., and Infiniband®, a registered trademark of the InfiniBand Trade Association.
Selecting cable testers requires an analysis of product specifications and features. Important specifications for cable testers include
- The number of test points is the number of wires, tracings or contact points that a cable tester can test simultaneously.
- Test resistance is the resistance value of the object being tested.
- Maximum voltage is the number of volts (V) applied to each test circuit.
Maximum current is the number of amperes (A) applied to each test point.
Cable Tester Features
In terms of features, cable testers may include capacitors, diodes, or resistors in the test circuit. Some products can perform high potential or hipot tests to determine conformance with isolation requirements. Others include a trigger for a time domain reflectometer (TDR) view or option.
Cable Tester Standards
Cable testers are used to certify cabling according to published standards from organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Electronic Industry Association (EIA), the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Cable Tester Application
Cable testers are used to troubleshoot connectivity problems and determine whether an existing link can support specific network speeds and technologies. These qualification testers are more powerful than verification tools, but do not perform the battery of tests that meet certification requirements.
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