Most network designs follow similar methods to connect the end stations to the network. In this video, you’ll learn about patch panels, punch-down blocks, patch panels, and fiber distribution panels.
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In most modern work environments, we have a lot of people that are sitting at a desk. These might be in cubes or they might be traditional offices, but prior to anyone coming and sitting down, all of the wires were run from their desk over the walls or under the floor into the room that contains all of the networking equipment. And in that room is a patch panel.
This usually has what’s called a 110 block on one side of this patch panel. We’ll look at a 110 block in just a moment. On the other side of the patch panel, there might be an RJ45 connector. So in order to connect these people in the desk with the networking equipment that’s in the closet, we need to run some cables from this patch panel into these network switches.
This means that we can leave all of these cables in place between these desks and the patch panel. If somebody moves to a different desk, we can simply change the cables that we have in the computer room and plug them into a different switch or a different interface. If somebody new was hired and they sat down at a desk, we only need to add new cables from the patch panel to the networking equipment, making this very easy for moves, adds, and changes.
There are many different kinds of patch panels. This patch panel is a 66 block. It’s primarily a patch panel used for analog voice and some older networking standards. Anything on the left side of the block is patched over to the right side of the block. So we might plug-in all of our desks on the left side of the patch panel, and then connect those desks to our phone equipment on the right side of the patch panel.
You’ll notice that these are not the modular connectors that you would be expecting to see if you’re working with RJ11 with a phone or RJ45 with a network. Instead you would need a specialized punch down tool that can take the wire and punch it down into the 66 block. Now that our phones have moved to voice over IP and a lot of what we do is happening over the network, we have phased out the 66 block for the 110 block.
The 110 block is also a wire to wire patch panel. It effectively replaces the 66 block that we were just looking at, but a 110 block is going to be able to support a higher speed networks. So we would plug-in category 5 and category 6 cables to a 110 block. To use a 110 block, we would first punch down all the connections that may be coming from our desks. Then we put a connector block on top of that, and then punched down whatever we would like to use to complete that connection.
Here’s a better look at a 110 block. We are looking at a completed 110 block that has been punched down on the lower connection, a connector block has been put on top of it, and then we have these connections that are completing the patch. You can see where the wires underneath had been originally punched down and the connector block placed right on the top of those.
Some patch panels will punch down cables to a 110 block on one side of the patch panel and then have RJ45 connectors on the other. This is the back of one of those patch panels. So you can see the 110 block where we’re punching down all of those Ethernet connections, and then you can see the traces on the circuit board that are used on the other side to connect it to an RJ45 connection.
So if we look at the other side where the RJ45 connectors are, we see this very easy to use modular interface. So to use this patch panel, you would find the connector associated with the desk that you’d like to connect. You would connect your ethernet patch cable, and then you would run that cable down to your networking equipment. Here’s the switches on this particular rack that would complete that patch from the desk to the patch panel and finally to the switch.
This means if somebody is added or removed from the organization or someone that is moving from desk to desk, we never have to touch that wire that runs from their desk into the computer room. Instead we simply change the wire on the patch panel and the connector to where it’s going on the switch. Of course, these patches are not just for copper connectors. We have patches and distribution panels available for fiber as well. And this is the example of a fiber distribution panel where you’ve got a patch panel on one side and then perhaps you’re extending this to another floor or another building and there’s a similar fiber distribution panel at the other location.
You’ll notice fiber installations have gentle curves. You never want to bend a fiber past its bend radius. So a lot of these fiber distribution panels will have loops of fiber inside of them. In fact, there may be extra loops of fiber inside of them. Just in case you find that you have to move this particular distribution panel, you don’t have to rerun all the fiber. You simply extend it using the service loop that’s already inside of the distribution panel.