Cable Jacks and Wall Plates Tips

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What should I know when ordering a custom wall plate?

Custom Wall Plates

Do you need a cable wall plate with a VGA and two DVI cut outs? Do you want to add an HDMI cut out as well? Does all of this sound Greek to you? The terms are connector types, which you should know when ordering a custom wall plate.

Here is an example of some of the connector types you can choose from to suit your technology, courtesy of

  • HDMI: for new high-definition digital video and audio
  • DVI: for digital LCD screens, plasma TVs and other flat panel displays
  • VGA: for analog CRT monitors, projectors, and some LCD screens
  • USB: for all high-speed peripherals in both "A" type and "B" type
  • S-Video: for TV displays from VCRs, DVDs and some graphics cards
Having a custom-created wall plate means you can choose not only the type of ports, but how many ports and where exactly you want the ports on your plate. This way it will perfectly fit your technology.

Custom-made wall plates is a popular option for classrooms, computer labs and home theater systems -- all which have a lot of different kinds of equipment.

What is a wall plate?

What Wall Plates Do

Wall plates provide the finishing touch to your cable routing. A wall plate can come in a variety of colors to match your room's decor and, when put on the wall, provide a nice neat frame for your cables or wires. There are electrical wall plates that cater to RJ-45 jacks, RCA jacks, speaker wires and more.

Experts say it is a good idea to leave an unused position in a wall plate for future expansion. You can use a blank insert to cover up the unused position if you'd like.

What does RJ mean when talking about jacks?

About Registered Jacks

If you are doing a Keystone jack installation, it's helpful to know what "RJ" means because you will see it a lot when referring to wiring jacks.

"RJ" means "registered jack." It sounds simple enough, but it's actually become a complicated term in the industry. That's because it is often used incorrectly.

You will see numbers like RJ-11 and RJ-45 to refer to jacks. These used to refer to different wiring schemes for modular jacks. Today, we still use the RJ configurations, but not in the original way they were intended by the Universal Service Ordering Codes (USOC) back in the day. And this can be confusing.

Therefore, industry experts say the most accurate way you can identify a jack, and leave no room for misinterpretation, is to leave out the RJ and instead specify the number of positions (width opening) and conductors on the jack. For example, a "6-position, 4-conductor" jack.

What is a Keystone jack?

What is a Keystone Jack?

A Keystone jack, which is used in local area networks (LANs), is a female connector used in data communications.

Typically, the jack is mounted in a wall plate or patch panel. The matching male connector, or the Keystone plug, is usually attached to the end of a cable or cord.

What terminology should I know when buying connector jacks?

Terminology You Should Know When Dealing With Jacks

If you are looking to buy Ortronics connector jacks or other types of jacks, you will run across the terminology "category 5e" a lot. Here is some terminology you should know, courtesy of

  • Category 5 (or cat 5) UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cable is a multipair (usually four pair) high performance cable that is made up of a twisted pair of conductors used mainly for data transmission. The twisting of the pairs makes the cable more immune to unwanted interference. This is the most common type of cabling system in the United States.
  • Category 5e (or cat 5e) cable: the same as category 5 except it is enhanced. It is recommended over category 5 for all new installations.
  • Category 5 SCTP (screened twisted pair): a category 5 cable where the twisted pairs are given additional protection from unwanted interference from an overall shield.
  • Category 5e patch panel: a series of many category 5e jacks condensed onto a single panel.
  • Category 5e patch cable: a length of category 5e cable with an RJ-45 male connector crimped onto each end.
  • Category 6 (or cat 6) cable: same as category 5e, except it is made to a higher standard.
  • EIA/TIA 568A standard: since 1991 it has been the standard for connectivity. This set the minimum standards for category 5e cable and hardware. The 568 "standard" should not be confused with 568A or 568B wiring schemes, which are themselves part of the 568A standard.

How do you assemble a Keystone jack?

Assembling Keystone Jacks

Here is how to perform a Keystone jack installation and a Keystone jack termination with Keystone RJ-45 (network jacks), RJ-12 (telephone jacks) and miscellaneous jacks, courtesy of

  1. Strip the cable: trim the jacket of the cable back about an inch. If you damage the conductors, cut the cable off and start again. Fan out all four twisted pairs.
  2. Align the wires in the slots: following the instruction of the color-coded wire positions on the jack, lay the conductors into the punch down slots. Note that some connections will be at 90 degrees of the jack and others will go right out the back of the jack.
  3. Do a Keystone jack termination of the wires in the slots: the RJ-45 jack inserts are self terminating. A plastic header is included that is snapped down over the connector and provides a secure connection. Make sure that the wires are in the proper slot. Press the plastic header down over the wires until the header bottoms out on the top of the terminal.
  4. Install insert into wall plate: hook the bottom latch first and carefully push up on the insert, engaging the upper latch.

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