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Back in January, we covered the Paladin PC Cable-Check Pro, an all-in-one gadget for testing the pinout and continuity of common computer cables.  But who’s got $130 for a cable tester?  Try this one for $30.  MCM Electronics is clearing out this discontinued Tenma-branded tester, which offers essentially the same features. 

It looks identical to the one I own, except mine is branded “Pro’sKit.”  If you do any real work with RS232 cables and adapters, consider picking one up; it saves a lot of time and headaches!  Note: Shipping starts at $8, but that’s still a deall.

Tenma PC Cable Tester [MCM Electronics]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]


2 Responses to Dealmonger: A PC Cable Tester For $30

  1. JamesBrauer66 says:

    Wow, that is a trip down memory lane. I used to pin out and solder serial cables when I worked field service, but generally did testing with a beeping ohm-meter. I think the reason that tester is so cheap is all the interfaces are obsolete, or near obsolete. Unless the 1394, SATA, HDMI, DVI, USB, etc ports are on the other side (not shown). I still use this vintage equipment for MAME and CNC control, but for new equipment this might be a bit lacking.

  2. It does have 1394, USB, RJ45, and BNC connectors on the edge face. HDMI, DVI, and SATA are too new.

    Most new PC cables are always pinned out the same. HDMI, DVI, SATA, USB, and 1394 specifically. There’s no such thing as a crossover, null modem, fake-flow-control, or whatever. So the only thing you’d be testing them for is bad or intermittent continuity, which this tester isn’t stellar at. (As I mentioned in the Paladin review way back, it only energizes one wire at a time, so testing for intermittent shorts or opens would require an advance-and-wiggle cycle for each wire in the cable.)

    Where this unit really excels, and where mine gets most of its use, is for testing and debugging RS232 cables. Particularly the DE9-to-RJ45 adapters so common (and incompatible) among Cisco, Adtran, Cabletron, and a dozen other vendors. Of course, some older gear has DB25 connectors for the same signals, so I have adapters to go betwixt and among those flavors too.

    Whenever there’s a question about whether this will work with that, I dig up the pinouts for both devices, sketch out a wiring map that should put the right signals in the right places, then test the adapter in question to see if its blinky pattern jives with my estimation. It’s important to do it in that order, lest I just “go along with” an almost-right configuration.

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