View Full Version : Cat5 Cable

12-13-2009, 02:20 AM
I am looking at adding a Ren64 to my show next year and was wondering what kind of cat5 cable was best to use. My previous controllers had built-in SSRs so this was not a concern. I noticed the solid wire is significantly cheaper than the stranded but I am worried about its flexibility and it breaking after repeated uses. I searched the forums but couldn't find anything on this. Any suggestions as to what works best? Also is Cat5e needed or will Cat5 work for the Renard controllers?


12-13-2009, 03:20 AM
Cat5e or Cat5 will not make a difference either way so go with what's cheaper. The solid wire is a bit stiffer to some degree but good stranded sometimes has a stiffener/separator running down the middle of it also to help prevent stretching of the strands. I personally like the solid core as I think it gives a better bite for the RJ45 plugs for crimping.

I was lucky enough to get access to super-heavy duty Cat5 STP cable real cheap that had an extra UV sheath for outside use so it will probably last me forever. Yes - it's a bit bulkier than the other stuff but I have no qualms about stepping on it or running it where I want it.

12-13-2009, 05:16 AM
Keep in mind you must use appropriate RJ45 connectors for stranded or solid cable. The part that bites into the wire is different.

12-13-2009, 08:47 AM
You can also get the rj45 that work for both solid and stranded.

12-13-2009, 10:01 AM
Even with the right connectors, I find it harder to put the plugs on the stranded wire.

I don't think it matters too much. Although its shorter lengths (15-20 feet), from 64 to SSRs and between controllers, I'm actually using scrap Cat-3 cable that I got from Phone company installer.

I do use Cat5e to go from computer to first controllers.

12-14-2009, 09:58 PM
Thanks for all the information. I think I'll go for the solid as i can get it quite a bit cheaper and already have enough ends to finish this board.

12-15-2009, 04:23 AM
you wont be sorry. I have used solid for the past 3 years. I have had very little problems with cords. If you have to fix one, it's penny's on the dollar.

12-19-2009, 02:15 PM
I had a strange encounter with cat5 today.

A half string was out on a window frame display, so rather than rewire all 8 strings on the frame, I plugged in a replacement on the end of the "out" channel (it lit), and just zip-tied it to the frame over where the "out" lights were. A lot easier, faster, and less hassle.


When I ran a channel test, now TWO channels were out on the same frame. Using my battery tester, I confirmed that the lights on the frame were now okay, so I thought it was the cat5 connector that plugged into the frame's SSR.

No problem, just replace the RJ45 plug, right? So I did. No change. I got out my heavy-duty ethernet tester and discovered that there was now either a break or a short in three of the internal cables of the cat5 wire! Only wires 1,2,4,5,and 7 were "live" while wires 3, 6 and 8 were dead.

The solution was to install new RJ45 plugs on both ends using the remaining "live" wires in place.

I have no idea how three of the internal wires could have broken like this. I did unplug the RJ45 from the SSR to take the frame off the house, but was very, very careful because it was only about 18F outside and plastic-coated wires are pretty stiff. There was also no strain on the wire either before I disconnected it or after. I didn't bend the cable -- I simply laid it on top of a chest-high shrub, about a foot below where it had been plugged into the SSR. My cables are hot-glued into their respective RJ45 connectors for both strength and moisture protection, and the replacement plug exhibited the same dead wires, so the fault must have been elsewhere in the wire.

Very strange!

12-20-2009, 11:14 AM
Cat5 is like a pretzel stick in cold weather. Very easy to snap the internal wires.

12-21-2009, 03:23 AM
I always find it interesting how the cat5, which I would probably consider to be one of the simplest parts of these controllers, can cause the most problems and the most grief tracking down…

If it weren’t for the added cost of components it would be great if the pic chip on the Renard controllers had a way to perform a loopback test between the controller and the SSRs to check for broken / malfunctioning cat5 cables. I know you can test the channels one by one, but for large scale displays having the chip tell you the cable on port whatever isn’t working correctly would sure be nice! But, I do believe that would be cost prohibitive and well, where would be the excitement of spending weeks tracking down cable issues :D?