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Jeff T. writes: “This cable tester is a massive jack-of-all-trades when it comes to data cable testing.  It doesn’t test all types of cables, but comes pretty darn close.”

This is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been looking for to use around the office.  According to Paladin Tools (the manufacturer), it’ll handle LAN, telephone, serial, coaxial, USB, VGA, mini-USB, S-video, FireWire, PS/2 keyboard, and parallel printer cables.

It also features both auto-scan and manual modes, runs on a single 9V battery, and has rubber feet to keep you from pulling it off the table while you’re wiggling the cable to check it.

The one pictured comes from circuitspecialists.com for $150, but street pricing starts around $135.

The PC Cable-Check Pro 1577 [Paladin Tools]
Street Pricing [Froogle]


One Response to Reader Find: The PC Cable Check Pro

  1. Myself says:

    I have a similar model, and it works great if you understand its limitations. To wit:

    This works by sending voltage on a single pin into one end of the cable, then letting the other end of the cable light up LEDs wherever the power comes out. It steps through the pins, so if everything is wired one-to-one, you see matching lights blink in sequence down the row.

    It’s great for figuring out strangely pinned cables. Serial null modem and ethernet crossover cables are instantly identifiable by their blink pattern. As with the Behringer tester, you can mix and match cable ends: say you have a Cisco console adapter, just plug it into the DE9 jack on the left and the 8p8c jack on the right, and you’ll see 1-nothing, 2-3, 3-6, 4-7, 5-4&5, 6-2, 7-8, 8-1. When I say “5-4&5”, I mean that when pin 5 on the left side lights up, since it’s bridged internally to pins 4 and 5 on the mod end, the lights for both pins 4 and 5 light up on the right side.

    However, as good as it is for figuring out weird pinouts, it’s bad at finding intermittent faults, and can’t do any sort of split-pair detection.

    Say you have a cable that goes flaky when you wiggle it. You plug it into the tester and wiggle it, but if the affected pin isn’t lit up while you wiggle, you’ll miss it, so you have to single-step through each pin and give a good workout each time. And even then, watching for a steady light to drop out for a few milliseconds isn’t easy, so you’re likely to miss it.

    Split pairs are a no-no when you’re dealing with balanced signals of any kind, which expect to always run on twisted pairs. It’s possible (and common!) to have a cable that’s pinned correctly from end to end, but the right wires aren’t twisted along its length. The cable looks good at DC, but when you put a high-frequency signal on it, you get all sorts of wacky crosstalk and interference. Since this tester operates at DC, it won’t find those. Most affordable cable testers won’t, actually. The cheapest I’ve found is the Test-Um “Testifier” TP350, which goes for around a hundred bucks. The TP500 is slightly cheaper (and it’s the one I personally own) but it doesn’t work with multiple-remote kits, which limits its usefulness on large jobs.

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