By: Daniel Brindley Homemade Network Cable Tracer

By: Daniel Brindley
• Motivation for project
• Intro to my idea for a cable tracer
• Problem this will hopefully solve
• Assumptions of audience
• Solution to problem
• Assembly and testing of project
• Results and conclusion
• Build a device to help
clean up wiring
• Be cost effective
• Room for future
• This is a problem in
most work places
• Maintaining a good network closet can greatly
help troubleshooting problems.
• Brand name flukes can cost thousands of
• A messy and non labled network closet can
cause problems for new employees and for
• A well organized network closet reflects on the
technology departments image.
Introduction Continued
• It can be beneficial and fun to build your own
network cable tracer.
• With your own custom made tracer you can
incorporate other features.
• You get to be creative!
Problem Statement
• Messy Network closets and racks can cause
headaches for not only the networking
department but for outside vendors as well
• A high cost is attached to network fluke
• Often times you must receive a quote, price is
not given upfront
• User knows basic network layouts
• User has seen a messy network closet
• User has seen a neat and well organized
network closet
• User knows basics of soldering
Proposed Solution
• Build your own network cable tracer
• What type of items could you build
them from?
•Window alarm
•Self made circuit
•Walkie talkies
Solution Continued
• I chose the walkie talkies because of its level of
customization and user friendliness
• Also pricing is fairly cheap
• Acquire a decent set of fairly cheap walkie
• You will need a CAT 5 or CAT 6 cable you can cut
• You will need to get a soldering iron, flux, and
Solution Continued
• Gather wire strippers
• Tools to take apart walkie talkie casing
• Mine required a torx screwdriver
• Disassemble both walkie talkie cases
• Cut the antenna off of one of the walkie talkies
leaving just about a centimeter
• Use the soldering iron to completely remove
the antenna from the second walkie talkie
• Cut a desired length of CAT 5 or CAT 6 cabled to
be attached to your walkie talkie
• I used about 8 inches
• Strip one of the twisted pair wires down to be
attached to the board of the walkie talkie
• You can use more if you are not going through a switch for
better signal
• Solder the wire to the board of the walkie talkie
using your soldering iron, flux, and solder
Reassemble walkie talkie with soldered on CAT
Leave other walkie talkie apart for testing and
Locate the tuning pot on the walkie talkie and
find out how to adjust it
• Mine used a small flat head screw driver
Test walkie talkie by hitting the send button on
the disassembled walkie talkie
• If the second walkie talkie can pick up the
signal without the wire touching the other
walkie talkie you need to tune down the range
• Continue trial and error until signal is only
received when the walkie talkie is touching the
CAT cable
• Tuning pot is EXTREMELY sensitive.
• Time to test in actual environment
• For my testing I did not go through a switch as
the equipment was not mine and I did not want
to break the $6000 equipment
• Plug walkie talkie with CAT cable into a network
• Have some one press the send button as you
take the other walkie talkie into the wiring
closet. See if you can locate the cable coming
from a patch panel using your homemade
network cable tracer
• First few times mine was not able to pick up signal at
• Some adjusting was required
• After adjustments every cable I checked was giving off
signal, I needed to turn sensitivity back down
• Was finally able to get the right settings and pin point
the cable I was looking for
• Tested again in a different wiring closet that was farther
away to test range.
• Results were good, I was able to locate the wire in just a
few moments
• These results show that you can build your own
network cable tracer for around $20 instead of
• You can probably get a more advanced walkie
talkie for better results
• This would be a great project if you are on a
budget and can not yet afford a fluke. While
getting your work done at the same time
Future work
• Did not get to test signal with cable actually running
through a switch
• Future expansions include adding a continuous send
button to the walkie talkie so you don’t require two
• Possibly add alligator clips to trace more than just
network cables
• Add an AUX port to send musical tones, using your
phone or mp3 player, over the lines
• Build a housing for it to have a rechargeable battery
• Adding interchangeable output cables
Thank You!
You may contact me at
[email protected]
• (n.d.). messy wiring closet. [Web Photo]. Retrieved from
• Iectyx3c. Pocket Cable Tracer. Posted on
• Curiousinventor. (July 25th, 2007). How and WHY to Solder Correctly.
Video posted on
• Rick (2002, August 30th). Fox Hound Sniffer Project, posted on
• Tony Van Roon (2000, June). Fox and Hound, wire tracer posted on
• vegmatic1966. (Aug 9, 2009). Make a wire tracer with some radio parts.
Video posted to

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