Network cables and cable assemblies are collections of wires or banded into a single unit with or without connectors. Common applications for network cables include audio, camera or imaging, computer, military, medical, telecommunications, and video. Configuration, standards, cable construction, features, and environment are all important parameters to consider when searching for network cables.
The configuration of network cables is dependent upon its technology. Choices for technology include Fibre Channel, IEEE 1394, GPIB, LAN or Ethernet, parallel, patch, SCSI, serial, and USB. Standards for each technology type are important to consider when they apply. SCSI standards include SCSI-1, Wide SCSI, Fast SCSI, Wide Fast SCSI, Ultra SCSI, SCSI-2, Ultra2 SCSI, Wide Ultra2 SCSI, SCSI-3, Ultra3 SCSI (Ultra 106), Ultra320 SCSI, Ultra640 SCSI, Fibre Channel and Serial SCSI. Standards for serial types of cables include RS232, RS422, and RS485. USB technology choices include USB 1.1 and USB 2.0. Choices for Ethernet type for Ethernet cables include 10Base-T, 10Base-2, 10Base-FL, 100Base-TX, 100Base-FX, 1000Base-T, 1000Base-LX, and 1000Base-SX.
Cable construction specifications to consider when searching for network cables include cable type, cable length, gender, and connector type. Cable type choices for Ethernet cables include Cat 3, Cat 5, Cat 6, coaxial, fiber optic, RG6/11, triaxial, type 1, and twisted pair. The necessary cable length is important to consider when searching for Ethernet cables. Choices for gender of the connectors of the cable are necessary to consider when searching for an Ethernet cable assembly. Gender choices for network cables are male-male, male-female, and female-female. Many connector choices are available for assemblies of Ethernet cables. Some of the more common connectors include Centronics connectors, BNC connectors, DB connectors, internal pin SCSI connectors, micro Centronics connectors, DIN connectors, RJ connectors, and USB connectors.
Common features found on network cables include extreme environment, cleanroom application, shielded construction, and Telco or hydra assembly. Extreme environment cables satisfy the requirement that the cable be used hostile or extreme environments, including high or low temperature, humidity, shock, vibration, etc. Shields are conducting envelopes composed of metal strands, which enclose a wire, group of wires, or cable. They are constructed so that every joint on the surface of the underlying insulation is a ground potential or at some predetermined potential with respect to ground. By surrounding a cable with grounded metal, there is a decreased chance that electrical signals carried by that cable will interfere with, or be interfered with, by external electrical signals. Telco network cable assemblies are used for data and voice applications with punch down blocks, patch panels and distribution boxes. They can also be used as extension cables. An important environmental parameter to consider when searching for Ethernet cables is the operating temperature.