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Author Topic: 4 channel Cat snakes  (Read 3720 times)

Brian Adams

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2019, 12:40:44 pm »

Elite Core makes nice quad Cat5 as well. I use Elite Core's "tactical" Cat5, but not their quad. I probably still have about 2,000' of it on a spool.

The issue I have with the quad cables, all of them that I've seen, is that they're very large and not super flexible. I can't see a cost advantage of using quad, and if one line goes bad somewhere in the middle it can't be replaced. Also, I have my Cat5 loomed with power and a 4 pair analog audio snake, and I feel like that's easier to do with individual cables. I use a couple wraps of 1.5" friction tape then 1.5" electrical tape every 2 feet. It gets the job done quickly and holds up well.
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Mike Pyle

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2019, 12:58:47 pm »

Quad CAT snakes are also available from Rapco, unshielded DuraCat or shielded Cat6a. They can put them on a reel too.
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Michael Thompson

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2019, 01:27:44 am »

We looked into the 4 channel cat snake a while back and got samples from a few of the usual suspects. We were replacing the infamous whirlwind blue 56 pair snake and decided that the four channel cats were not more flexible. It's a lot lighter, but very stiff. We ended up going a different route and have been quite pleased with our decision. I would consider running multiple instances of single cats. It's easier to replace one if you damage one, and you can separate the ends to run to different positions at foh or the stage. The cat5e breakouts to xlr work well for analog lines to/from foh as well. They even work for our comm.

I second this.  I've also gotten samples of many and decided to stick with individual runs.  It's not like it saves me from making a loom anyway.  I still have power and an analog snake for coms and other utility functions. 
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James Paul

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2019, 04:03:17 am »

As a reminder or FYI, that STP is unnecessary for Soundcraft SI desks & stageboxes. I would suggest purchase a length of UTP cat5e cable to match the length of your current cat6 and tape & loom, and a pair of 4 channel xlr to rj45 breakouts.This would provide console to stagebox via UTP, an STP backup, and an STP for multi use via xlrs for DMX, Com line, AES or analog audio.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2019, 12:18:18 pm »

Why not use configurable switches on either end and VLAN your traffic so you can use a single gigabit run (and a failover if you've got the cable) to handle everything? For the $1000 or so you'd probably pay for a 4-cable ethernet snake of any appreciable length you could get several Cisco/HP/Dell switches and have the added ability to run fiber via the SFP slots if you so desire in addition to segmenting traffic. Also like Mac said, replacing even heavy-duty cat6 is way cheaper than getting a snake repaired or replaced because it got nicked by a PSAV goon on a scissor lift or an event services drape cart.

We send Dante, Radius management, 4 channels of video, and two ArtNET DMX nodes all down one cat6 cable from FOH to the stage with no saturation issues whatsoever. Our main run consists of power, two cat6 cables taped together, and AES50 ethercon. The cat6 and ethercon are both on spools so they take a matter of minutes to set and strike by one person.

This works if the gear on each end supports IP connections.  AES50 is NOT an IP protocol, so it's going to need its own cable.  The OP's post is questioning whether running a single bundled Cat cable makes more sense than multiple pieces of cable.  Overall the consensus seems to be that multiple single cables is cheaper and easier to deal with than a bundle.  There's very little benefit to having 4 cables in a single jacket vs separate runs, or loomed runs.
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Steven Eudaly

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2019, 12:53:37 pm »

The issue I have with the quad cables, all of them that I've seen, is that they're very large and not super flexible. I can't see a cost advantage of using quad, and if one line goes bad somewhere in the middle it can't be replaced. Also, I have my Cat5 loomed with power and a 4 pair analog audio snake, and I feel like that's easier to do with individual cables. I use a couple wraps of 1.5" friction tape then 1.5" electrical tape every 2 feet. It gets the job done quickly and holds up well.

Agreed. We take individual 200 and 300 foot "tactical" Cat5e lines and build looms of 2, 4, 6, etc channels depending on the application. Ends up being a bit larger than the pre-fab multi-pair but I find it a more versatile investment.

Taylor Hall

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2019, 01:26:11 pm »

This works if the gear on each end supports IP connections.  AES50 is NOT an IP protocol, so it's going to need its own cable.  The OP's post is questioning whether running a single bundled Cat cable makes more sense than multiple pieces of cable.  Overall the consensus seems to be that multiple single cables is cheaper and easier to deal with than a bundle.  There's very little benefit to having 4 cables in a single jacket vs separate runs, or loomed runs.
I only mentioned the ethercon cable as it was part of our main "trunk" between FOH and the stage. Everything other than that is done with standard cat6 cables taped together on a reel.
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Rob Spence

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2019, 04:16:07 pm »

I have some TMB Proplex and when I first got it I thought it was very stiff. However, after several uses it got much more flexible. I would buy it again.
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Dan Mortensen

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2019, 09:44:03 pm »

This has been an issue for me, too, and I looked into it deeply a few years ago. Here are some comments about recommendations ITT that I've either had experience with or have thoughts/questions about. Sorry in advance this is so long:

https://tmb.com/proplex-ethernet-snake/

I've had one of those for 4-5 years and have reported somewhere in these forums that that cable is the most unwieldy, hard-to-handle cable I've ever seen/used for its size. It is almost as uncooperative as a piece of 2/5 Type W feeder, but is about 1/4 the diameter and maybe a tenth of the weight.

By itself, physically it really doesn't want to do anything that I want it to do.

Taping it closely (about every 3", with 2" e-tape) to a 12/5 SOOWA AC cable makes it somewhat easier to figure 8 into a road case.

That said, I have no complaints about its performance/reliability, although I don't want another one.

It depends on whether or not you need shielded.

Link/Eurocable makes a 4x or 6x CAT6 STP and Gepco makes a 2x or 4x CAT5e UTP

For X/M32 users, and AFAIC all Midas users despite Midas' persistent recommendations, shielded is the only way to go, so that leaves the Gepco out.

The Link-Eurocable data sheet says it is bundled UTP CAT5e inside one overall shield, which I believe won't work for our purposes unless the ends of the snake are not spaghetti (and therefore unshielded) but instead are steel boxes with shielded Ethercon panel mount connectors, with STP patch cables at either end. If the boxes had weatherproof covers that would be a pretty slick solution, as the spaghetti on my snakes gets yanked periodically and I worry the flex point from single to multiple cables would be a weak point. No problems yet but nothing is forever.

http://whirlwindusa.com/custom-shop/cat-5e-snake

That *looks* like it's using the Gepco UTP cable, so unless they can get something else (maybe the Link/Eurocable?) that won't work, either.

Agreed. We take individual 200 and 300 foot "tactical" Cat5e lines and build looms of 2, 4, 6, etc channels depending on the application. Ends up being a bit larger than the pre-fab multi-pair but I find it a more versatile investment.

I have a couple of snakes like this, too, but think that when the time comes that one channel has gone bad, that the other channels would be suspect, too, and there is so much work in assembling that cable (a couple of long, really boring days the way I do it) that replacing the whole assembly, while reusing the AC run, would make more sense and be more prudent.

An STP multi CAT cable that was as flexible as the Gepco UTP would be ideal from my point of view, but didn't exist when I was looking

Elite Core makes nice quad Cat5 as well. I use Elite Core's "tactical" Cat5, but not their quad. I probably still have about 2,000' of it on a spool.

The issue I have with the quad cables, all of them that I've seen, is that they're very large and not super flexible. I can't see a cost advantage of using quad, and if one line goes bad somewhere in the middle it can't be replaced. Also, I have my Cat5 loomed with power and a 4 pair analog audio snake, and I feel like that's easier to do with individual cables. I use a couple wraps of 1.5" friction tape then 1.5" electrical tape every 2 feet. It gets the job done quickly and holds up well.


Looking at that Elite Core quad
and reading the description makes me think it just might be a shielded version of the Gepco.

If that's true, that would really be an advance in the state of the art. Anybody know how it lasts and how it handles?

Regarding your comment about quad cables being large and not super flexible, I think the Gepco is about as flexible as a nice 12/4 SOOWA, which is plenty flexible for my purposes. As noted above, the TMB is horrible in that regard and I agree with you about that kind of cable.

Individual cables bundled is much more flexible, particularly if you do them in a rope lay, which is horribly time consuming before you even get to assembling the bundle with AC and analog multipair. (Cable bundle components of different diameters don't lay/twist together very well IMO. I may be missing the technique of how to do that well, though.) I would trade that initial bundling tedium for bundling a larger cable (closer in size to AC and analog multi-pair) in a heartbeat.

Regarding your taping method, I feel like having individual CAT cables and other cables bundled together and taped farther than a few inches between wraps makes the smaller cables jump out from the bundle in any curves/corners during the run, e.g., following a wall or stairs or something. Taping them only a few inches apart forces the bundle to act as one cable in my experience, similar to having it in a sleeve. YMMV, of course.

I hope the OP tells us what he's found, and I'm going to look closer at that Elite Core quad and what termination options they offer, as well as how they measure the performance of their terminations to guarantee that the completed cable actually passes data at the needed speed.

That last phrase is a whole other discussion. Again, sorry for the length of this reply.
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Brian Adams

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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2019, 11:53:42 am »

Dan, I'm curious as to your looming process that takes a couple days. It usually takes me a couple hours, I suppose, but the job isn't that bad (the way I do it). I'd like to know what you do to see if it's better than what I typically do. Or better in certain situations.

The Elite Core Supercat5/6 cable isn't a copy of any Gepco cable I know of. The main advantage of the Elite Core is that the pairs are individually jacketed. It's a tiny bit tougher to terminate than a normal Cat5, but the jacketed pairs make it a very durable cable since the conductors don't grind against each other like in a normal Cat5 cable. It terminates much easier than the tactical Gepco I've used, which is basically just double jacketed (two outer jacket layers, one being very thick). The Gepco is a lot more flexible though.

I use Platinum feed through connectors and it makes terminating them a lot easier.

I'm not sure who OEM's Elite Core's cable, but I've had a bunch of it in service for years and I've been very happy with it. I've been happy with the Gepco I use too, but it's a very different cable (and not shielded).
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Brian Adams
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Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2019, 11:53:42 am »


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