How Many Cables Can You Pull Through A Hole?
A guide to help figure out how many cables you can pull through a hole to help you plan your structured wiring project.
I'd like to run new cables for TV, phone and network and I came up with this little chart that might help you figure out how many telecom cables you can pull through a hole. It includes Cat3 2-pair, Cat3 4-pair, Cat5 4-pair, Cat5e 4-pair, Cat6 4-pair, RG59 and RG6 Quad Shield in various sized holes.
Dimensions of cables vary so please double check the actual cables you're going to use.
For the holes I selected sizes that match the auger sizes of Greenlee D'Versibit Flexible Drill Bits which are a popular type of installation bit used when pulling cables in existing walls. The bits come in 3/8", 1/2", 9/16", 3/4" and 1" diameters.
There are 2 values in the chart. In black is the maximum number of cables I think I can jam through the hole and in green is the number of cables based on a 40% fill.
The NEC (National Electric Code) specifies conduits for power cables should not exceed 40% fill. This allows for some room to run extra cable in the future or change to larger cable as well as heat and providing enough room to minimize chances of damaging cables while pulling.
For some reason TIA/EIT and most LAN installers have adopted the 40% fill rule even though these are very lower power cables. When running cable through conduit the NEC says that the same conduit fill rules apply for low power cables as I understand it. I'm not 100% sure what the rule is when just running cable through holes and not conduit. What I've seen installers do is measure the size of their cable bundle and choose a drill bit slightly larger so that the bundle pulls easily without damaging the cable. The hole size needs to conform with building codes regarding making holes in structural members (generally no more than 1/3rd the width of the member.) Check with your local codes before starting. This is used mainly as a guide to help in planning and determining which size bits to buy. They aren't cheap!
As you can see the Cat6 cable is a lot thicker than Cat5e cable. The whole reason I made this chart was to determine which cable to buy as I have a limited amount of space to run the cables.
They both support Gigabit Ethernet 1000Base-T. Even the older Cat5 cable was able to run at gigabit speeds. The issue comes with transmission problems that may cause errors and slow down the network. Cat5e is better than Cat5 and Cat 6 is better than Cat5e in that regard.
Most Cat6 cable has a plastic center spline that helps prevent crosstalk and other signal issues. That's the main reason the Cat6 cable is thicker. Some manufacturers have found ways to make cable that meets that Cat6 spec without the need for the center spline.
Most of the splineless cat6 cable I've seen is plenum rated. (see Cat6, Splineless, UTP, 23AWG, 8C Solid Bare Copper, Plenum, 1000ft, Blue, Bulk Ethernet Cable (Made in USA)) which is about 3 times the cost of regular riser cat 6 with a spline. The plenum rating means it's made with a different jacket material that doesn't release toxic fumes if it burns. I did however find this Riser rated ICC CMR CAT6 UTP 500 MHz (NO SPLINE) / ICC-ICCABR6VWH which is only 2x the cost of regular Cat6 cable.
If I use Cat5e or splineless Cat6 the installation will be easier as I'd have to drill less holes or I could make smaller holes. Still trying to figure out if it's worth the expense of the more expensive splineless Cat6 instead of regular Cat5e.
Ethernet Patch Cable Colour Codes & Bestpractices
Keeping data from getting crossed in a data center can be a pain. Below are some of the standards followed in Data Centers
blue - most common so workstations or generic servers.
red - critical systems. Sometimes used for building fire systems
yellow - less critical system.
orange - cabels that go off to other racks
green - where the money flows for e-commerce systems.
black - VoIP systems since the phones came with blakc patch leads
white - video camera network
pink - used for rs-232 serial cables
purple - used of isdn type links
tan - telephone lines
This is the current list of colors of ethernet cables that can find be found in general ind DC or have seen:
light blue (rare but commonly used on cisco cables)
fluorescent blue (even rarer)
red (many of these are cross over cables)
yellow (this was a standards approved color for cross over cables)
cisco cable yellow
fluorescent green (never seen this buts its in catalogs)
black (easy to confused with power cords)
white (sort of rare)
dark gray (rare)
tan/beige (common in cat 3 patch cables)
purple/violet (they are different but when you order one you get the other)
fluorescent violet (very rare)
One thing to consider is about 15% of all males are slighly color blind and only about 10% think they are. Many colors look the same but often times a color blind person can easliy tell the difference between say tan cables and beige cables but can't tell the red from the green.
Color codes for fiber (fibre?)
Orange - multimode
Yellow- Single mode
gray - could be either but tends to be single mode
light blue - could be either
Color codes for fiber jackets
Blue - Stright cut - fiber joint is perpeneducalr at 90 degrees
Green - Angled cut - fiber joint is angled slightly
Note that buildings will often have these colors:
red - fire alarm cables
white - cheaper fire alarm cables
blue - who knows? Could be alarm, fire, hvac, or data
tan - same as blue but older
For -48 volt systems you can get:
red - ground.
black - negitive 48V but can routinely be -56V
blue - could be the same as red or black but tends to be the same as red on a differenc circut
Note that -48 Volt systems tend to be able to provide massive amounts of unfused current. These system will often have enough capacity to boil the metal in tools.
That describes the outer jackets. Inside cables like power you can have:
Live power from selected places around the world:
red (power Au/UK)
brown (old for AU/NZ/UK)
yellow (old phase 2 UK)
blue (old phase 3 UK)
blue (phase 3 in AU)
blue neutral in Europe
black (power in Europe)
Gray (old IEC phase 3)
gray (power Europe)
gray (neural in US/Japan)
white (neutral in US)
white (pahse 2 in Au)
white (swtich return in AU/UK)
green/yellow - Ground most places
green or yellow but not both (power IEC 60446 and a bad idea)
green (ground in the US according to parts of the Elec code)
green (Never ground in the US according to parts of the Elec code)
bare copper (ground in the US or death)
The color codes for ships make much more sense and are about as uniform. For example blue is used for compressed air on US registered ships yet blue is for water on UK registered ships.
It pays to invest in quality Guitar Effects Pedal Patch Cables
So I’ve been through a whole bunch of different patch cable brands - all the typical branded ones - Boss, Dunlop, Ernie Ball, Fender, Hosa, Mooer and Planet Waves (D’Addario) - before I stumbled across my current favourites ’EBS Gold Flat Patch Cables’ on the Andertons website.
I have a very extensive pedal chain consisting of some 36 pedals currently and I did not much like the usual thick-ish cable or jack-heads. The EBS ones are still the trimmest flattest versions I have comes across, they do have some evolving competition from the new Rockboard Flat Patch Gold Series which comes in a much wider variety of lengths, although I’m not sure about the way ends over-run the jacks - I much prefer the streamlined shape of the EBS jack heads.
Daniel Steinhardt of GigRig and That Pedal Show fame swears by the Evidence Audio Solderless Monorail system - but the jacks / caps on those are rather regular-shaped and the wire nowhere near as flat as either Rockboard or EBS especially.
Finally Free The Tone is a decent quality competitor to Evidence - and they do things very slightly differently to Evidence and at a similar price point. There are a whole bunch of slightly lower quality solderless options from companies like Boss, Donner, Hellion, Lava Cables, Mr Power and Planet Waves.
My personal pick of the bunch is still EBS, although if I need longer lengths - then I would source those from Rockboard. If I had to go solderless, I would pay the premium and go with either Evidence Audio or Free The Tone - depending on my needs. The Evidence Audio Kit seems to provide you with everything you need, although Free The Tone has a few advantages of its own.
EBS PREMIUM GOLD FLAT PATCH CABLES
EBS (Efekt Bass System) are Swedish Electric Bass technology specialists and are responsible for my current favourite patch cables. The are the slimmest of those available with the smallest and skinniest end jacks - they sound just as good as they look.
ROCKBOARD GOLD SERIES FLAT PATCH CABLES
Just recently launched, these are now available at Thomann, they’re not quite as neat and tidy as the EBSs, but come in a greater variety of lenghts - which makes the 3 varieties over 1m particularly useful.
This is the current king of solderless patch cables, Daniel Steinhardt swears by them and they are on all his pro GigRig guitar rigs and pedalboards. All the plugs / jacks are right angled - which is no different to the above two hard-wired alternatives. These come in 2 different kits - SIS1 has 8 jacks and 5 foot / c150cm of cable, and SIS2 has 10 jacks and 10 foot of cable c300cm - and they come in burgundy red and black cable varieties - you can buy additional jacks / plugs for $7.95 / £5.99 each and addition cable at circa $2.95 / £3 per foot.
This high quality Japanese brand is less well-known than Evidence, yet adds its own twist by providing both straight and right-angled jack plugs. The kits come in 3 varieties - variously with straight and angled jack plugs but always with 300cms of cable.
I can see the benefit in being able to cut the cable exactly to size - but using a combination of EBS and Rockboard cables will pretty much handle all scenarios and can give you the tidiest of boards or pedal chains. All of these are premium and use premium components, so high quality sound is a given. There are certainly lots of different choices out there, and sure - some of these are a few pounds dearer overall, but you really do get what you pay for here, and these cable solutions should benefit you in several ways.
News for Monday 11 November, 2019