ProSoundWeb Community

Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => LAB Lounge => Topic started by: Steve Ferreira on December 10, 2019, 09:57:20 am

Title: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Steve Ferreira on December 10, 2019, 09:57:20 am
Hi all,

I have a Soundcraft Expression Si3 that I run a cat6 STP cable with and I bought a "backup" cable that's still wrapped up. I also have to provide lighting so I run a separate DMX line for that. I have been thinking of getting a 4 channel cat snake so I can just run 1 line and be done with it. Even though I would only need 2 cat lines I would have 2 backups lines or future expansion.

Who makes 4 channel Cat snakes? I see TMB makes some but haven't seen much more in my searches.
I have also thought of just get something like the Rat Sound cat boxes but I wouldn't have a true back up line if something goes wrong.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Mac Kerr on December 10, 2019, 10:02:21 am
Hi all,

I have a Soundcraft Expression Si3 that I run a cat6 STP cable with and I bought a "backup" cable that's still wrapped up. I also have to provide lighting so I run a separate DMX line for that. I have been thinking of getting a 4 channel cat snake so I can just run 1 line and be done with it. Even though I would only need 2 cat lines I would have 2 backups lines or future expansion.

Who makes 4 channel Cat snakes? I see TMB makes some but haven't seen much more in my searches.
I have also thought of just get something like the Rat Sound cat boxes but I wouldn't have a true back up line if something goes wrong.

What are you running down these cables? The 4ch CAT5 snakes are 4 twisted pairs, or 4 audio channels, they and pass analor or digital signals that only require 2 wires. If you are talking about snakes with 4 CAT5 cables in them that is a whole different animal, although they are avaIable.

Mac
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Steve Ferreira on December 10, 2019, 10:12:30 am
What are you running down these cables? The 4ch CAT5 snakes are 4 twisted pairs, or 4 audio channels, they and pass analor or digital signals that only require 2 wires. If you are talking about snakes with 4 CAT5 cables in them that is a whole different animal, although they are avaIable.

Mac

Hi Mac,

The Cat5 cable is straight from the console to the stagebox. I'm looking for a solution like this https://tmb.com/proplex-ethernet-snake/
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Joris Jans2 on December 10, 2019, 10:20:19 am
.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Mac Kerr on December 10, 2019, 10:21:05 am
The Cat5 cable is straight from the console to the stagebox. I'm looking for a solution like this https://tmb.com/proplex-ethernet-snake/

That one is a true 4 CAT5 snake, the Rat Sound Cat boxes are 4ch of audio down 1 CAT5 cable and will not work for your use. I don't know how big and stiff the TMB version is, but the ones I have seen are about as big and stiff as a 20pr analog snake. I would just bundle a couple of heavy duty CAT cable with etape every few feet. It will be much cheaper and lighter and easier to fix when one gets damaged.

Mac
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Taylor Hall on December 10, 2019, 10:48:46 am
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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Brian Bolly on December 10, 2019, 11:06:13 am
It depends on whether or not you need shielded.

Link/Eurocable makes a 4x or 6x CAT6 STP (https://www.linkusa-inc.com/Portals/0/Cutsheets/Eurocable/Link-Multidata-CAT6A-Cable.pdf) and Gepco makes a 2x or 4x CAT5e UTP (http://www.gepco.com/products/proav_cable/network/4pr_4chan_cat5Eheavyduty_M.htm?v=3)

Other than the TMB, those are the only two I'm aware of. 

I own one of the Link/Eurocable snakes that's 275' long.  It coils neatly into a 1/4 pack trunk, but I wouldn't try to put it on a reel - it does have a fair amount of stiffness to it, and as Mac mentioned these types of cables have a decent diameter to them.  But, it's been rock solid and I have no real complaints about performance at all.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Douglas Stringfellow on December 10, 2019, 12:17:33 pm
Hi all,

I have a Soundcraft Expression Si3 that I run a cat6 STP cable with and I bought a "backup" cable that's still wrapped up. I also have to provide lighting so I run a separate DMX line for that. I have been thinking of getting a 4 channel cat snake so I can just run 1 line and be done with it. Even though I would only need 2 cat lines I would have 2 backups lines or future expansion.




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



Who makes 4 channel Cat snakes? I see TMB makes some but haven't seen much more in my searches.
I have also thought of just get something like the Rat Sound cat boxes but I wouldn't have a true back up line if something goes wrong.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Douglas Stringfellow on December 10, 2019, 12:19:51 pm

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


Sorry
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: boburtz on December 10, 2019, 12:40:30 pm
Hi all,

I have a Soundcraft Expression Si3 that I run a cat6 STP cable with and I bought a "backup" cable that's still wrapped up. I also have to provide lighting so I run a separate DMX line for that. I have been thinking of getting a 4 channel cat snake so I can just run 1 line and be done with it. Even though I would only need 2 cat lines I would have 2 backups lines or future expansion.

Who makes 4 channel Cat snakes? I see TMB makes some but haven't seen much more in my searches.
I have also thought of just get something like the Rat Sound cat boxes but I wouldn't have a true back up line if something goes wrong.
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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Brian Adams 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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Mike Pyle 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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Michael Thompson 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. 
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: James Paul 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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Brian Jojade 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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Steven Eudaly 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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Taylor Hall 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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Rob Spence 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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen 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 (https://www.linkusa-inc.com/Portals/0/Cutsheets/Eurocable/Link-Multidata-CAT6A-Cable.pdf) and Gepco makes a 2x or 4x CAT5e UTP (http://www.gepco.com/products/proav_cable/network/4pr_4chan_cat5Eheavyduty_M.htm?v=3)

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 (https://elitecoreaudio.com/elite-core-supercat6-quad-fan-shielded-quad-cat6-cable-with-2-fantails-and-tactical-locking-ethernet-connectors/) 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.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Brian Adams 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).
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on December 16, 2019, 04:48:54 pm
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.

I've got some time off coming up, starting tomorrow, and I'll try and take pictures of the resulting looms, although I'm not sure I want to show how nuts I am about this stuff and the lengths I'll go to to try to get it right. OTOH, I care about this a lot and have thought about it a lot and have tried to come up with solutions that work and continue to work, and have made several tries at it. Most are still working. The one or two that aren't were due to a bad choice of cheap cable. Other choices of cheap cable have so far been fine.

Should I add to this thread and swerve it or start a new one?

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.

Are you talking about the single Ethernet cable or the 4 in 1? The latter is what I'm talking about.

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

Can you provide a link? There seem to be tons of connectors available, to the point where each type of cable "prefers" a different connector.

How are you confirming that your terminated cables meet spec? I made one cable assembly (3 Ethercons) that met spec and have failed repeatedly after that with different cable and now only buy completed individual cables, adding Ethercons if necessary.  :'(

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).

I'm only basing that suggestion on looking at the pictures of the cable and its jacket printing on the Elite Core website. I'm going to call them this week but not today.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on December 17, 2019, 08:39:01 pm
...Elite Core website. I'm going to call them this week but not today.

Just talked to Elite Core about their 4 in 1 cable, and they do not test their terminations to confirm that the completed cable is performing at CAT6 (or any other speed), so that is distressing.

There is also no longitudinal spacer between the pairs in each wire to isolate the pairs capacitatively (if that's a word). Since AES50 is in all my mixers and has shown itself to be sensitive to disruption from certain types of handling, that is important to me since the spacer might reduce that problem, although it also seems like the problem would be reduced if the cable is bulky enough to not move pairs individually when significantly jostled.

It sounded like the four internal cables were not isolated much from each other, only by the foil and by some cloth or something. The spaghetti on each end has to have jacket added, he did tell me that part. (The Gepco UTP seems to have a molded jacket around each internal cable.)

They are sending a data sheet with a cross section of the cable to confirm, but I am suspicious that this is not a product for AES50 users, despite the rep's repeated assertion that these cables are "used by the largest production houses in America and they have no problems with it."

This is disappointing, because I am hoping to get another 250' snake and a 4-in-1 cable would be better than the 3 twisted individuals I'm now using on that cable, for a couple of reasons.

Also FYI: I started by doing the Chat on the website, and mistakenly sent only the word "Hi" by hitting the return key.

While still typing a follow up that was more complete and suggesting that it would be simpler to talk instead of type and including my phone number, the phone rang and it was "X from Elite Core! How are you doing?" 

!!

I asked how this was possible before I sent the Chat note; he said they can see as you type.

So that was interesting, too.

No email yet in the time it took me to type this, but I'll report when it comes.

Man, I wish Gepco made an STP version of their Quad cable! (I did ask the Elite Core guy if Gepco OEM'd their cable, and he vigorously said no, and that he would be fired if he told me who did. I said I didn't need to know.)

FWIW Belden owns Gepco now, and it's not cheap to build a custom cable factory, so the former Belden guy, Steve Lampen, who was one of the presenters at my Ethernet cable workshop a few years ago, talked often about how they made cable for people all over the world to the customer's specs, no matter what they wanted. Including directional cable in which the signal flowed better one way than the other. The guys in the warehouse were happy to put an arrow on it to indicate the correct direction.

It seems like a non-zero chance that if this cable isn't being made in China it's being made to order by Belden.

Fake edit: Had to leave before posting this, so in the meantime the data sheet came (attached below) and they're also going to send a 2' chunk to see its construction. The drawing seems to show a jacket around each internal cable. Hmmm. Dissecting the sample will confirm this or not.

Elite Core seems pretty responsive and is trying to be helpful; hope it works out that I can buy something from them. That kind of responsiveness deserves support.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Tim McCulloch on December 17, 2019, 09:30:25 pm
Watching with interest, Dan.  Thanks for the update.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Frank Koenig on December 17, 2019, 10:47:34 pm
Including directional cable in which the signal flowed better one way than the other. The guys in the warehouse were happy to put an arrow on it to indicate the correct direction.

Well that's a pretty cool trick. I wonder how they do that????  :o :o

"Capacitively" is a fine word. I can adverb an adjective any damn time I want, and so can you.  ;)

Thanks for all the digging and your report.

--Frank
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on December 18, 2019, 12:38:22 am
Well that's a pretty cool trick. I wonder how they do that????  :o :o

I'm quite certain that either you or I could do it equally as well and with exactly the same accuracy.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Jim Layton on December 18, 2019, 08:39:14 am
That one is a true 4 CAT5 snake, the Rat Sound Cat boxes are 4ch of audio down 1 CAT5 cable and will not work for your use. I don't know how big and stiff the TMB version is, but the ones I have seen are about as big and stiff as a 20pr analog snake. I would just bundle a couple of heavy duty CAT cable with etape every few feet. It will be much cheaper and lighter and easier to fix when one gets damaged.

Mac

Question on those Rat boxes. Do you need a send and receive "box" on either end? It appeared to me that you have a Rat box with a XLR fan that plugs into your main stage box. Run a Cat from that fan box to another rat stage box.  Is that how it works? Does that work with a Soundcraft or X32 rig? I'm guessing there will be a "failure to communicate."
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on December 18, 2019, 02:56:23 pm
Question on those Rat boxes. Do you need a send and receive "box" on either end? It appeared to me that you have a Rat box with a XLR fan that plugs into your main stage box. Run a Cat from that fan box to another rat stage box.  Is that how it works? Does that work with a Soundcraft or X32 rig? I'm guessing there will be a "failure to communicate."

Yes to your first, second, and third questions, and no to your last phrase.

The Rat boxes "transform" 1 shielded CAT cable into 4 mic cables with a shared ground and have no "communication" (in the sense that I think you're using the word) with consoles other than as mic cables.

Quotes around "transform" because there are no actual transformers (the kind with cores and windings) involved.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Jim Layton on December 20, 2019, 09:24:29 am
Yes to your first, second, and third questions, and no to your last phrase.

The Rat boxes "transform" 1 shielded CAT cable into 4 mic cables with a shared ground and have no "communication" (in the sense that I think you're using the word) with consoles other than as mic cables.

Quotes around "transform" because there are no actual transformers (the kind with cores and windings) involved.

It seems like the weight of the two boxes and "labor" of connecting the fan to stage box and Cat cable between the pair of 4-CH boxes is more than a conventional 4-Ch copper drop snake. But I see the "coolness" of being able to customize the length of a drop snake with an inexpensive Cat cable. Eliminates the need for a collection of long and shot drops. I get it now.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: John Sulek on December 20, 2019, 11:16:02 am
It seems like the weight of the two boxes and "labor" of connecting the fan to stage box and Cat cable between the pair of 4-CH boxes is more than a conventional 4-Ch copper drop snake. But I see the "coolness" of being able to customize the length of a drop snake with an inexpensive Cat cable. Eliminates the need for a collection of long and shot drops. I get it now.

Also let's you repurpose extra/unused cat5 lines in a multicore run for analog utility lines..comms, talkback, VOG..
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on December 20, 2019, 02:00:34 pm
It seems like the weight of the two boxes...

The boxes are aluminum, which seems problematic from a shielding standpoint but has so far caused no problem in my usage. Each one weighs about as much as a smallish TV remote, maybe less.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on December 23, 2019, 05:07:35 pm
The sample 4 Pair from Elite Core came today and it's more like 3', which was very generous.

It's super flexible like the Gepco, maybe even more, although the jacket doesn't quite seem like the Gepco so maybe Gepco doesn't make it.

Looking at the ends there does seem to be a jacket around each individual CAT cable, and it does look like there's a shield under there in each individual, too, and maybe one around the whole bundle under the jacket.

It doesn't look like there's any longitudinal spacer, or maybe any kind of spacers, between the pairs within each CAT cable. (What's a shorter way of differentiating the 4 individual cables from the assembly contained by the outer jacket?)

It's going to be after the holidays until I can dissect it to see what's going on, and I'll take it to Blue Jeans cable to see if they are interested in/able to terminate it, if I want to proceed. They have a Fluke DTX 1800 (think that's the right number) where they measure every cable to confirm it meets spec.

It does look promising as a 4 in 1 cable, although I'm going to be thinking about the lack of spacers between pairs. Additionally, it's sold and labeled as a CAT6 cable, but all the others I've seen have needed longitudinal spacers of some kind to meet the higher speed spec, as opposed to CAT 5e. That is puzzling.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Brian Bolly on January 14, 2020, 04:56:28 am
It depends on whether or not you need shielded.

Link/Eurocable makes a 4x or 6x CAT6 STP (https://www.linkusa-inc.com/Portals/0/Cutsheets/Eurocable/Link-Multidata-CAT6A-Cable.pdf) and Gepco makes a 2x or 4x CAT5e UTP (http://www.gepco.com/products/proav_cable/network/4pr_4chan_cat5Eheavyduty_M.htm?v=3)

Other than the TMB, those are the only two I'm aware of. 

I own one of the Link/Eurocable snakes that's 275' long.  It coils neatly into a 1/4 pack trunk, but I wouldn't try to put it on a reel - it does have a fair amount of stiffness to it, and as Mac mentioned these types of cables have a decent diameter to them.  But, it's been rock solid and I have no real complaints about performance at all.

I wanted to bring this back up since I went back and looked at what I actually bought, which is not what's listed in the LINK catalog.  I bought S/FTP that is shielded.  And Dan, if you're looking for cable to test, you might try some of this.  Here's the data sheet:

https://www.linkusa-inc.com/Portals/0/Reference/CUSLK%204CAT6SFTP.pdf
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Sam Costa on January 14, 2020, 12:20:27 pm
Hi all,

I have a Soundcraft Expression Si3 that I run a cat6 STP cable with and I bought a "backup" cable that's still wrapped up. I also have to provide lighting so I run a separate DMX line for that. I have been thinking of getting a 4 channel cat snake so I can just run 1 line and be done with it. Even though I would only need 2 cat lines I would have 2 backups lines or future expansion.

Who makes 4 channel Cat snakes? I see TMB makes some but haven't seen much more in my searches.
I have also thought of just get something like the Rat Sound cat boxes but I wouldn't have a true back up line if something goes wrong.

Steve, Elite Core Audio makes a 4ch Cat6 snake. Shoot me a DM and I'll get you pricing.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on January 14, 2020, 06:06:03 pm
I wanted to bring this back up since I went back and looked at what I actually bought, which is not what's listed in the LINK catalog.  I bought S/FTP that is shielded.  And Dan, if you're looking for cable to test, you might try some of this.  Here's the data sheet:

https://www.linkusa-inc.com/Portals/0/Reference/CUSLK%204CAT6SFTP.pdf

Hi Brian,

Thanks for revisiting this. Interesting that you were able to get something not in the catalog.

I called them and got an operator but the staff was already gone for the day. Thanks for the link. (No pun intended....)

In your use, the solid wire has held up well? How often do you coil/uncoil it, and how many cumulative times do you think it's been coiled/uncoiled/coiled? I'm also curious about the stiffness. If it's like the TMB...

I was thinking this morning about how many things I've left undone this year, and examining that Elite Core quad cable is one that I came up with. One thing or another has prevented that examination but I will try to get to it soon.

Thanks again.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on January 15, 2020, 03:53:12 am
The sample 4 Pair from Elite Core came today and it's more like 3', which was very generous.

It's super flexible like the Gepco, maybe even more, although the jacket doesn't quite seem like the Gepco so maybe Gepco doesn't make it.

Looking at the ends there does seem to be a jacket around each individual CAT cable, and it does look like there's a shield under there in each individual, too, and maybe one around the whole bundle under the jacket.

It doesn't look like there's any longitudinal spacer, or maybe any kind of spacers, between the pairs within each CAT cable. (What's a shorter way of differentiating the 4 individual cables from the assembly contained by the outer jacket?)

It's going to be after the holidays until I can dissect it to see what's going on, and I'll take it to Blue Jeans cable to see if they are interested in/able to terminate it, if I want to proceed. They have a Fluke DTX 1800 (think that's the right number) where they measure every cable to confirm it meets spec.

It does look promising as a 4 in 1 cable, although I'm going to be thinking about the lack of spacers between pairs. Additionally, it's sold and labeled as a CAT6 cable, but all the others I've seen have needed longitudinal spacers of some kind to meet the higher speed spec, as opposed to CAT 5e. That is puzzling.

Got some time tonight when it didn't snow (2-4" expected before tomorrow) so dug into it and took some pictures.

Here it is showing the coil radius that it is happy to maintain without help:

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49388635727_9a0e0fbabf_z.jpg)

Not bad. Like I said, it's pretty flexible.

The chopped end, as is:

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49388438626_7a99c22902_z.jpg)

The wire, which we'll see closer in a minute, does indeed appear to be 23 gauge, which seems pretty stocky:

Stripping off the decently sized jacket

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49388635782_57d8acc78d_z.jpg)

There is indeed an overall shield around the individually jacketed bundles, but there is no drain wire for the shield. Is an unterminated shield useful?

Unwrapping the shield, we see the four individually jacketed CATs, plus the tiniest little bit of center padding, which seems to be folded paper or something, with not much 3D presence (like a plastic spacer would have and maintain)

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49388438601_3db4ec8571_z.jpg)

Removing the jacket from one of the four CATs, we see the four pairs within the wire are individually foil shielded along with a drain wire.

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49388635757_125999efaf_z.jpg)

And removing a twisted pair from the fairly thick foil shield

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49387961233_29cbd63a2f_z.jpg)

we see no padding/spacers at all. Not that that is necessarily negative; the foil is quite thick compared to other foils I've seen and must be what allows them to achieve CAT6 speed, and probably reduces/eliminates the pair-to-pair capacitive issues from certain types of handling that we think are the cause of AES50 data/sync disruption.

Finally, taking the insulation from the wires shows they are indeed solid

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49388635742_2da1eee53b_z.jpg)

and pretty stocky.

I'm grateful to Elite Core for sending a nice sample so quickly and really like the feel of this cable, but I'm not capable of reliably terminating RJ45's and am not quite ready to jump in as I'm concerned about Elite Core's testing of finished cables to verify they meet spec.

Sam, do you have any knowledge of that, or does anyone have any measurement data for finished cables from Elite Core?

I'd also like to see the Link cable and see how its construction compares before buying 250'. Also, unlike many people ITT, I think that if one of the CATs went bad in either an overall jacketed cable like these or in a bundle of individuals, I'd rather replace the whole bunch of them, since they'd all be the same age with the same handling, and if one went bad I wouldn't leave others of its type and age in with a new replacement. Better to start fresh. YMMV.

Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Helge A Bentsen on January 15, 2020, 05:02:24 am
Pro tip on Link Eurocable Cat multicores.

Link has a range of LKG LK connectors for these. They are crimped + glued to the cable and connects the overall shielding to chassis earth. I made a touring rig with LKG connectors in the doghouse and stage rack with fanout on the inside for network (and power, I had a power + network hybrid). Ran one cable for network + power, one connector in each end and done. Made for a quick setup and teardown.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: brian maddox on January 15, 2020, 11:10:55 am
Pro tip on Link Eurocable Cat multicores.

Link has a range of LKG LK connectors for these. They are crimped + glued to the cable and connects the overall shielding to chassis earth. I made a touring rig with LKG connectors in the doghouse and stage rack with fanout on the inside for network (and power, I had a power + network hybrid). Ran one cable for network + power, one connector in each end and done. Made for a quick setup and teardown.

I've a friend whose rig uses these only it adds 2 audio pairs for analog comms or whatever.  So two Cat5e, two Audio pairs, and power in one connector.

Very handy.  The cable ends up being a little beefy, but it's flexible and "one run and done" is super nice.
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on January 25, 2020, 04:38:29 pm
Pro tip on Link Eurocable Cat multicores.

Link has a range of LKG LK connectors for these. They are crimped + glued to the cable and connects the overall shielding to chassis earth. I made a touring rig with LKG connectors in the doghouse and stage rack with fanout on the inside for network (and power, I had a power + network hybrid). Ran one cable for network + power, one connector in each end and done. Made for a quick setup and teardown.

I've been communicating with Link USA, and over the course of daily back and forth for a couple/few days they mentioned these connectors, and that they can ship the cable with connectors installed and tested. When I asked what kind of devices they had to connect to the connectors (stage box, fanout, what?), that seemed to be a hard question and they stopped communicating.

Do you have pictures or links?
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Helge A Bentsen on January 26, 2020, 06:53:35 am
I've been communicating with Link USA, and over the course of daily back and forth for a couple/few days they mentioned these connectors, and that they can ship the cable with connectors installed and tested. When I asked what kind of devices they had to connect to the connectors (stage box, fanout, what?), that seemed to be a hard question and they stopped communicating.

Do you have pictures or links?

Link has a nice custom shop, they manufacture cable systems and breakout boxes per your design.
Part of my previous day job was designing and selling cable systems for the Norwegian distributor, designed and sold several systems.
A common solution was a 19" panel with LKG connector wired to ethercons/xlr/powercons, one for FOH and the other for stage. Also sold some ADS boxes (one of their standard boxes) with connectors for those who needed to mount LKG breakouts inside doghouses or wanted to have a box on the floor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0JTN-Llb-c
https://www.linkusa-inc.com/Portals/0/Reference/lkg.pdf


Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Dan Mortensen on January 27, 2020, 04:56:55 pm
Link has a nice custom shop, they manufacture cable systems and breakout boxes per your design.
Part of my previous day job was designing and selling cable systems for the Norwegian distributor, designed and sold several systems.
A common solution was a 19" panel with LKG connector wired to ethercons/xlr/powercons, one for FOH and the other for stage. Also sold some ADS boxes (one of their standard boxes) with connectors for those who needed to mount LKG breakouts inside doghouses or wanted to have a box on the floor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0JTN-Llb-c
https://www.linkusa-inc.com/Portals/0/Reference/lkg.pdf

Thanks, Helge, that is much more complete than what they sent.

You're finding that the CAT connectors within the MASS shell are holding up well?
Title: Re: 4 channel Cat snakes
Post by: Helge A Bentsen on January 28, 2020, 10:38:53 am
Thanks, Helge, that is much more complete than what they sent.

You're finding that the CAT connectors within the MASS shell are holding up well?

I never had any issues with the systems I sold or my personal setup I used on the road for two years. Sold that off to another company, AFAIK itís still in use.