Saturday, October 8, 2011

Repurposing Cat5E Network Cable

Hello readers

Just some random notes from my Saturday afternoon. While cleaning up the garage I found a rather long network cable hiding from a long-forgotten project in the past:

However after trying to use it between my EtherTen and the router, the cable turned out to have a break in it somewhere. So what to do? Twentieth-century me would have just thrown it out, but that would be irresponsible. But inside that blue insulation are four twisted-pairs of 24AWG wire – perfect for prototyping and general low-voltage use:

So time to strip back the outer insulation and give the twisted-pairs their freedom:

They are a little thinner than first imagined, but how thin are they? Not being one to memorise the American Wire Gauge data I took a few quick measurements:

A quick measurement of the wire diameter without insulation. AWG specification is 0.511mm. Those digital vernier calipers were pretty sensitive so that will do. Excellent – now I have almost 120 metres of perfectly good hook-up wire. What would that have cost me new? Local retailers (ugh) can charge over 25 centre per metre. So that’s a free lunch.

Next time you have some broken network cable… don’t throw it out – reuse it. What else can we do with the cable? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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