Counterfeit Cables 101

September 7, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Have you ever wondered how some cables are able to be sold at such dramatically low prices? In some cases, it’s because the cables aren’t exactly what they appear to be. Counterfeit cables are more common than you might think.  In fact, we found that cables can be counterfeit from both large and small manufacturers and domestic or overseas sources.

 

A counterfeit cable is any cable that is sold under false pretenses, where the cable specification doesn’t match the actual product construction. Implying that a cable meets a certain performance standard when it doesn’t, such as Cat6a, is also considered counterfeiting. In most cases, the cables are made with inferior materials so they can be offered at a cheaper price.

 

One major factor in avoiding counterfeit cables is ensuring that your supplier or manufacturer is consistently checking cable assemblies, proving UL compliance, testing cables and ensuring standards are met.

 

Here are some things you should be aware of to avoid getting stuck with counterfeit cables:

·  Substituting steel or aluminum for pure copper conductors – This cost saving method also causes the signal strength to drop below noise and cross-talk levels which will lead to problems in a high-speed network.

 

·  Cable jacket material – If a jacket is CMP or CMR-rated, a legitimate business will offer a signed Certificate of Conformance (CoC) for their products. If there’s no CoC offered, the jacket might not meet rating standards.

 

·  Selective electrical performance testing – Some manufacturers claim their products were “fluke tested” but don’t run the full patch testing because it’s not easy to pass and it’s more expensive. Legitimate manufacturers will run the full performance testing to ensure their cable meets standards and provide you with the test result documentation.

 

·  Misleading cable markings – Cables sold in the U.S. have a variety of markings that can be used to look them up on the UL’s database, but that doesn’t always guarantee that the cable is worthy of its markings. A signed CoC is the best way to make sure that you’re not getting a counterfeit cable.

 

·  Deceiving connector construction – Using cheaper materials will lower the combustion rating for a plastic connector and cause metal connectors to eventually corrode and fail when mated.

 

·  Wire gauge changes – 25 AWG and 26 AWG cables are often mislabeled as 24 AWG. They best way to test the gauge is to request a sample, cut it open, remove the insulation and measure the conductors.

 

·  The Golden Sample – Manufacturers may create a golden sample to send to the customer, but cut corners when manufacturing the rest of the order to save money. Creating a quality control system to test the cables in each shipment, unbeknownst to the manufacturer, is your best bet to test for consistency in quality.

 

5 Things You Need to Know About the Cloud

August 31, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

If you’re like most people, you probably have pictures or some other type of files stored in the cloud, but do you really understand what the cloud is? For many people, the cloud remains a mystical place that they still can’t quite comprehend. Here are 5 things you need to know about the cloud:

 

1.  When something is stored in the cloud, it is actually in a physical place. The cloud is like a giant IT data center, it is a massive infrastructure of thousands of servers that are connected by cables, switches, connectors and patch panels. All of these parts work together to store data, provide virtual desktops, global data access and more.

 

2.  Cloud computing relies on many geographically dispersed servers that provide millions of people with reliable and limitless access to their library of and images, video, audio and data files through the Internet. This frees up local RAM and hard drive space, but it also means that the interconnect components that make up the cloud need to be fast and dependable to keep up with user demand.

 

3.  The consumer cloud is different than a cloud for business. Consumer cloud computing is for those using cloud Internet services casually at home or in small offices. When it comes to business, there are several cloud models being used:

 

-  Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – businesses subscribe to an application that is accessed using the Internet

-  Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – businesses create their own custom application for everyone in the company      to use

-  Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – the big names in tech (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc.) provide a              backbone that can be used or “rented” for use by other companies

 

4.  The cloud is big business and is having a big impact on business. Worldwide public cloud services are anticipated to grow 18% this year to reach $246.8 billion. Cloud computing is also expected to be the most measurable factor impacting businesses in 2017. Cloud platforms allow for more complex business models and coordination of globally integrated networks – more so than many experts predicted. Cloud services are also increasingly being used by small and medium businesses, which is also increasing the revenue forecast.

 

5.  The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, and with the IoT has come increased use of cloud computing technology. Eventually, IoT devices may become extensions of cloud data centers.  The cloud is a powerful force in the technology industry and a global trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

 

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How to Protect Your Equipment During Lightning Season

August 24, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

No matter how lucky you are, the thought of lightning striking your expensive communications equipment can be a scary thought. Depending on your location, the time of year and your proximity to other buildings, the chances of a lightning strike can be higher or lower, but any lightning strike can be debilitating for sensitive electronic equipment. Both direct and indirect strikes can cause extensive damage that includes loss of data, downtime and the cost of replacement.

 

Electromagnetic fields and earth-voltage spikes caused by lightning can also wreak havoc on electronic power and signal circuits. This can damage the Ethernet, coaxial and telephone lines, or anything connected to the circuits. Even entire campuses can experience long-range voltage spikes that can ruin all electronics connected by the above-ground and below-ground cabling systems that run throughout the campus.

 

There’s no single cure-all method, but lightning protectors are an inexpensive way to help protect equipment in the event of a lightning strike. Here are some of the best solutions to give your equipment a fighting chance:

 

 

Coaxial Protectors – These lightning protectors use gas-filled tubes to discharge electrical spikes before they can cause damage. They are used in both wired and wireless networks to protect radios, communications equipment and anything else attached to coaxial cable, which becomes a target for lightning. They feature popular connector types including N, TNC, RP-BNC and F.

 

Low-PIM Coaxial Protectors – Theses are ideal for use with Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) because of their low-PIM performance of -150dBc. They feature bi-directional protection and there are no gas tubes to replace.

 

Cat5/5e/6 and PoE Protectors – These protectors ground-out and discharge spikes that can permanently blackout security cameras, switches routers and other critical equipment. They are ideal for 10/100/1000 Base-T Ethernet networks. Some models even feature integral PoE injectors that can deliver remote power to access points, access servers, outdoor routers and other Ethernet IP enabled devices.

 

Telephone/DSL/T1 Protectors – They protectors can prevent your POTS or other telephone system from expensive downtime and are perfect for indoor or outdoor installations. These protectors are available in multiple styles including screw terminal 

and RJ11 options.

 

RS232/422/485 Protectors – These are ideal for protecting RS-232, RS-422 and RS-485 lines. They can also save sensors, control lines and AISG lines from lightning’s damaging effects.

 

To see all the products L-com offers to protect your equipment from lightning, click here.

 

The Low Down on Low-Loss Coax Cables for Wireless Applications

August 17, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

It may seem counterintuitive that a wireless network would need cables, but it’s true. The components of a wireless network, such as access points, amplifiers and antennas, all need cables to communicate with one another. Antenna cables introduces signal loss in the antenna system for both the transmitter and receiver. In order to reduce this signal loss, you need to either minimize the cable length, if you can, and use only low-loss or ultra-low-loss coax cable s in order to connect access points and amps to antennas.

 

Coaxial cable is one of the oldest signal cabling types and is still used today because it is robust and very good at carrying a signals over long distances. The term coaxial comes from the inner conductor and the outer shield sharing a geometric axis. The term "low-loss" refers to the cable's relative low-attenuation (loss) over distance. The general rule is that the thicker the cable is, the less loss of signal there will be over the length of the cable.

 

RG-style cables were the original standard for coaxial cable, but the signal in these cables degrades over longer distances. This isn’t an issue when covering short distances, but in a wireless application it is critical to maintain the signal strength throughout the cable and until it is sent out through the antenna. Thus, low-loss coaxial cable was created offering lower attenuation and better shielding, a much better solution for wireless systems than RG-style cables. Low-loss coaxial cables also use solid center conductors which provide lower attenuation than the stranded conductors found in some types of RG-style coax cables.

 

Low-loss coaxial cables are ideal for use in WLAN, Cellular, PCS, ISM and many other wireless communications applications. They are offered in multiple sizes with a three-digit “series” number designating the thickness of the cable and the low-loss properties. For example, 400-series low-loss coax is thicker and has less loss than 200-series, and 200-series is thicker and has less loss than 100-series. While the thicker cable will provide less loss, it will also be heavier and less flexible, though ultra-flex versions of the thicker series cables do offer more flexibility.

 

Here is a comparison chart for popular types of low-loss coaxial cables:

Ethernet Switch Showdown: Commercial vs. Industrial

August 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

An Ethernet switch is a great way to create a Local Area Network (LAN) to share resources. Ethernet switch LANs can allow an entire office to share the use of printers, servers, Internet connections and other Internet Protocol (IP)-based applications.

 

For decades, Ethernet switches were limited to climate-controlled IT closets and buildings for use in commercial and office networks. In recent years, their use has expanded to include Ethernet-based industrial IP networks for manufacturing, automation and process industries.

 

Here, we’ll look at the major features of commercial and industrial switches and how they differ from one another.

 

Commercial Ethernet Switches:

  • •   Designed for desk or rack mounting in controlled environments such as IT closets        and data centers
  • •   110V-240V AC powered
  • •   Limited operating temperature range, typically between 50° F to 95°F
  • •   Cannot withstand shock and vibration
  • •   Single Point of Failure (SPOF): many commercial grade switches depend on               cooling fans and other components that can compromise the entire switch if they         fail 
  • •   Most have lower Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) than industrial switches

 

Industrial Ethernet Switches:   

  • •  Designed for harsh environments with extreme temperatures, vibration, dust and        moisture
  • •  Typically used in manufacturing facilities, mining, oil production, power plants,            waste water treatment plants and other extreme environments
  • •  Usually do not have any moving parts, such as fans (SPOF)
  • •  Conformal coating used in damp environments to cover PCB and protect                    components
  • •  Wide operating temperature range, typically from -40° F to 167°F
  • •  DIN rail mounting and small form factor allows switches to take up minimal space
  • •  Safety Extra-Low Voltage (SELV): accepting 24 V DC power makes industrial switches safer than higher powered switches
  • •  Many have an Ingress protection (IP) rating which allows the switches to resist dirt, dust and wash down
 
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