What’s in my Toolbox?

Prompted by some fellow Networksy types, (Jeff and Jeremy), who’s recent entries on the contents of their toolbags I found extremely interesting;  I thought I’d go through mine as I have a few unusual items!

Starting with the fairly standard stuff:

Wire Strippers

Good old fashioned and simple wire strippers.  These ones have an adjustable lock to stop you stripping too much cable unintentionally.

RJ45 Crimping Tool

Then of course the RJ45 Crimps.  Nothing too fancy, just cheap and practical.  I have never needed to crimp an RJ-11, so all I need are RJ-45 ones.

RJ45-DB9 and RJ45-DB25 Console Cables

A standard set of Cisco Console cables;  I tend to have a couple of brand new ones as well as tried and tested ones in the box, as I often end up leaving them behind attached to “core” devices, so there’s at least one on any site that we touch.

A Krone Tool, or Punchdown Tool

A good old Krone punchdown tool.  My old and trusty one is starting to be a bit tempramental now when it comes to cutting the wires, so I’ve recently added a new one which has yet to be christened.  Fortunately I don’t need these THAT often!

Cage Nut Tools

The quite rare and exceedingly valuable lesser spotted Cage-Nut Tool. I try to keep hold of these as they have a tendancy to vanish from my toolbox when other engineers realise what they are and how useful they can be! Most decent brands of Rack seem to come with one, so I’m not sure quite how they are so rare. Maybe they live under datacentre floors along with the cage nut eating mice?

Cage Nuts and Velcro Ties

Some Cage Nuts/Bolts, and some Velcro ties, have to try and keep things nice and neat now! 🙂

Multi Tool

This one is a relatively new2 addition, a freebie I picked up at Infosec this year, but it replaces a rather worn and similar one.

RJ45/Cat5e Couplers

I usually keep a handful of these Couplers at the ready.  I’ve used them for all sorts of strange purposes over the years.  Everything from extending Cisco Console Cables for those REALLY hard to reach devices, to temporarily connecting cables in lieu of an IP Phone with a built-in Switch.

Anti Static Wrist Strap

I probably don’t need to explain why these are here, but it’s a good “just in case”.

Baby Cat5e Cables

Always a good standby, but I keep some of these 6″ Cat5e cables, they seem to come in handy all over the place!

A collection of Serial Adapters, Converters and Loops

A mixture of Adapters, Gender Benders, Modem Eliminators, RJ45-RS232 adapters, and Loop Tools.

Now on to the slightly more interesting stuff!

Not sure what this is called!

I’m not sure what this is called; I managed to pick this up several years ago when doing a project involving opening and unboxing over 1200 new IP Phones which were boxed in boxes of 4.  The sheer quantity of cardboard and the number of boxes to be opened quickly caused fingers to be cut to shreds and fingernails to be damaged, but this really made life so much easier.

USB Memory Stick

I’m always equipped with a USB Memory Stick, simply because my lanyard with my Swipe Card on it has one built in.  This was a Promotional item from a supplier a couple of years ago, and has 1Gb storage, which is plenty for most things I’m likely to need.

Tone Generator and Probe

This one is so valuable when trying to trace cables and find those frustratingly misnumbered !  I stick with this slightly older model because it has both an RJ45 connection, and a set of Croc-Clips for wiring only checks.

A Butt

Not sure if I’ve spelt that one correctly! 🙂  The Butt is becoming less useful these days in the “modern” world of IP Telephony, but it’s still useful to have for tracing Wires and Analogue lines.

My current Cable Tester

A fairly standard Cat5 cable tester.  I haven’t had cause to use the older BNC style cable tester for some time, but this one is a two-part unit for testing local cables or entire cable runs, and will identify Straight Through or Crossover cables.

Short Wave Radio's

I added these some years ago after myself and a colleague were working in a building, one of us in the Patch Panel / Comms Room, and another person at the other end of a cable run.  I actually have a set of four but keep two in my Toolbox and two at home.

Star Drive

An all-in-one unit for most sizes of star type screw, this one is a really useful one to keep handy.

Digital Multimeter

Again an all-purpose tool which has a multiplicity of uses!  I tend to use the conductivity test and Voltage readings most of the time, but it has saved me from a nasty shock on at least one occasion!

Cable Snake Head

This one is in the spirit of keeping things tidy!  I sometimes have cause to use the plastic surround which wraps a bundle of cables in a protective sheath.  This is the special head which is used to apply the covering.  It opens up and is clipped around the cables to be protected, and the sheath slides over the protruding knob.  You then slide the head along the cable while pushing the protective sheath on to the head and hey presto, the cable is all nice and neat and protected.

MiFi and USB Extension Cable

The MiFi is used to get me Internet connectivity in places where corporate network connections are not available, or too slow.  You never know when you’re going to need to download a different IOS image, and if the Network is broken – well you simply have to have an alternative.  It’s often also faster than Hotel Wifi as I can get up to 8Mb all to myself on this, depending on how good the 3G coverage is at the time.   The USB extension cable is used to get to those really hard to reach USB ports from time to time.

Head Light!

Interestingly I note some of my peers keep a Flashlight in their tools;  this is my equivalent.  With an elasticated head fitting, it can go over my head to give me hands free illumination while working.

Cable Clips

I’m not sure where I picked these up, or what their proper purchase is, but they are ideal for temporarily holding some cables “up” together in the back of a rack somewhere.  The metal clips will hook on to all sorts of things, and the Velcro at the bottom keeps the cables secure.

CompactFlash Adapter

Used for connecting directly to the Laptop and transferring stuff straight to/from a CF card before putting it in a Router or Switch.

Special Tool to Factory Reset a certain type of UTM Appliance

This is a specific tool for a certain brand of UTM appliance.  It’s credit card sized but fairly thick with a push-out USB cable head.  Plugging it in to the USB port on an appliance will cause the appliance to reset to it’s factory default, so the ultimate in password reset tools I guess!

Miscellaneous Widgets

And lastly a collection of Miscellaneous Widgets including some Permanent Marker Pens, a collection of Batteries, a standard USB Memory Stick, a Wireless USB Network Adapter, and a GLC-T GBIC.

That’s all.  I’ve not shown the “boring” screwdrivers, or must have label printer etc which are probably an ever present feature of most Network Guys’ toolkits.  My only problem at the moment is that I don’t have a proper “box” to put all the tools in;  I’d like one similar to this Stanley one, but currently this is all in a plastic crate at work which will slide in to the back of the car nice and easily if needed.

So, what’s in your Toolkit?

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Posted on June 17, 2011, in Featured, IT, Networking, Technology. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Nice article!

    The cable clips come from 1U HP Servers, which give you a few of these to route cable as they don’t have proper cable management arms. I keep a few of them in my bag too.

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