Twisted-Pair Continuity Tester
Many of the common problems of getting cables to work are simple ones. The $5,000 cable testers are nice, but for simple installations they are overkill. If the cable installer is not careful during installation, the cable's wire pairs may be reversed, split, or otherwise incorrectly wired. A simple continuity tester can help you solve many of the common problems of data and voice twisted-pair cabling by testing for open circuits and shorts.
Figure 1 shows a simple continuity tester from IDEAL DataComm; this tester (the LinkMaster Tester) consists of the main testing unit and a remote tester. The remote unit is patched into one side of the cable, and the main unit is patched into the other side. It can quickly and accurately detect common cabling problems such as opens, shorts, reversed pairs, or split pairs. Cable testers are available from many vendors and sell for under $100. Testers such as these can save you many hours of frustration as well as the hundreds or even thousands of dollars that you might spend on a more sophisticated tester.
Figure 1: IDEAL's LinkMaster Tester
Although coaxial cable is a little less complicated to install and terminate, problems can still arise during installation. The tester shown in Figure 2 is the IDEAL DataComm Mini Coax Tester. This inexpensive, compact tester is designed to test coax-cable runs terminated with BNC-style connectors. It can test two modes of operation: standard and Hi-Z for long runs. Coaxial-cable testers will quickly help you identify opens and shorts.
Figure 2: IDEAL's Mini Coax Tester