Tuesday, March 08, 2005

What is a jack? How do I install one?

Put as simply as is possible, jacks are the ports where you plug things in. Want to connect your computer to your Cat 5e network? You need a jack. Want to plug in the television and watch cable? You need a jack. Want to plug in your speakers to your new Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround Sound system? You need a jack.

Jacks look and connect differently depending on what they are for. Here is a picture of three keystone style jacks and a penny:
Three jacks around a penny.  Penny is roughly the size of the face of a jack.
From left to right we have a Cat 5e jack, a Coax BNC jack, and a Cat 3 toolless jack.

In this picture, the port of each jack is facing the camera. The port is where you plug in your equipment and is the part of the jack that remains visible after the jack has been installed. The back side of the jack faces inside the wall. To better illustrate this, here is a picture of two jacks that have been installed in the FOURPAIR.com offices:

You can see how once the jack is snapped into the plate and the plate is attached to the wall, you can only see the port. You'll have to excuse the old school wall plate. (The much more attractive ones that we currently carry can be found in the wall plates section of FOURPAIR.com.) In case you're curious, that is a phone cord coming out of the yellow Cat 5e jack. In our offices, we use Cat 5e for our telephone system and Cat 6 for our computer network.

The back side of the jack is where the hardwiring in the walls is terminated. Watch for future blog posts explaining how to terminate many different types of jacks.


At May 20, 2008 at 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do i connect the cat5 or cat 6 to the wall plate?

At May 21, 2008 at 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Cat5/6 is wired directly into the jack. The jacks all have little notches on the bottom and a little tab on top which you use to snap them into the openings of the face plate.

It really couldn't be simpler.

At May 22, 2008 at 10:30 AM, Blogger Will Hunt said...

This is correct. Keystone style jacks will have a small tab at the top that allows you to snap them right into the keystone wall plates. This is the easy part of installing a jack. Terminating the jack (punching down the wires in the jack) is what can be a little more difficult for some people. However, there are a couple of good videos on youtube that demonstrate how to terminate a jack which is very helpful for a novice.

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