This post is more of an informative post with regards to what tools I tend to use on a regular basis in my job. Recently, Stretch wrote about what was in his tool bag over on PacketLife.Net . He has some GREAT information over there beside just that post, so if you have never visited you should wander over there when you have time.
For the most part I tend to use the many of the same tools he discussed, but figured it would be nice to share what I have in my bag. So, without further typing, here we go!
Note: If you click on the pictures it will take you to a link to where you can either get the tool or a similar tool if the one I had is no longer availablee
This is probably my most used tool when I do not have to make cables. It contains just about every nut, bolt, and screw that you will find in a data center. It is easy to use, quick to find, and very versatile. No need to separate screw drivers or pliers, just grab this and you are good to go!
This multitool is wonderful, albeit a little pricey. It has almost everything a telecom/network engineer would need. Great cutters for thick wires, good strong pliers, wire strippers, drywall punch, screw drivers, hex driver, knife, file, wire hook, ruler – and my personal favorite – bottle opener for those after work hours.
These are not just normal scissors, they are what you would call Linemen Scissors. What makes them special is they are strong, easy to use, and have a serrated cutting blade on them. That seratation makes all the difference in cutting cables. Also, there are notches on them for stripping wires – so if you need to hard wire something you can easily strip the insulation off a cable.
These crimpers are great for RJ45 and RJ11 crimping, they also have built-in cable strippers when you need them. I prefer a separate tool for that, but this do work in a pinch for stripping cables
A good wire-stripping tool for Cat5/6 cabling is a must! What I like about this set is that I can keep an extra blade (the blue part) in the handle with me at all times.
If you are going to be making cables, you kinda need these! The brand that I use is Allen Tel – AT8X8RCSC in a smoke grey. Found these to be good quality and reliable.
Granted a fluke meter is a much better cable tester, and something everyone should have, but in a pinch this little cable tester is perfect. It will tell you if you have continuity as well as the correct pin-outs. If you are unsure of what a cable is, this will let you know if it is ethernet, cross-over, t1 cross-over, or just plain messed up.
Long before velcro and zip-ties there was waxed lacing cord. This is great stuff for tiding up cables and electrical wire, there is no pre-defined sizes and such – just gut the length you need and tie up your cabling. It does take a bit more skill to use, but one you know how to use it – you will start to see the benefits. Nothing like a running stich on a long length of cables to keep things need and tidy.
Of course if you are going to have lacing cord, you will need a lacing tool. This will help you pull the lace through tight areas.
I keep a few rolls of this around at all times. It is great for a quick bundling of cables, marking a cable during a pull, or just being able to temp tape something while I am working. Nothing permanent, but a good temporary hold on things.
It is always good to have loopback plugs for testing things out. Above are T1 loopbacks (both male and female) and a small Ds3 cable. If you ever need to test from a jack or such, these are invaluable to have with you!
This is an interesting tool to have as it allows me to be able to temporarily extend a cable somewhere. It is usually only used in a pinch, but is nice to have handy when one needs it.
This is almost self-explanatory to be honest. This comes in handy when I need to connect my laptop to a network that does not have wireless, or even to just swap out a bad cable. Having one or two with me at all times is just convenient.
I usually carry a few memory cards with me at all times, just in case I need to copy an image from something to somewhere.
Never know when you will need to rack something up, always good to have a bag of these with you.
This is the best thing that I have ever seen! It allows you to easily install and remove cage nuts. These usually come when you purchase a rack and such, but are usually thrown out. Once you have one of these, you will wonder how you lived without it. For how to use it, click here
Never know when you will need a light! Having one in your bag is always a good idea.
Another tool that definitely comes in handy from time to time. Wonder what has allen screws in a data center? Well, think of the 42U server cage you have – those rails are usually adjustable, and the screws are allen.
Ever work on a device that has a funky screw for security? Well this little pack has almost every one of those drivers in it! I rarely use this kit, but it does come in handy from time to time. Best $4 I ever spent 🙂
These come in handy for those one-off console connections that require some strange connector.
Um, yeah – we need this.
Every now and then you run across a old NPE – I/O module (think NPE-225) that has the DB25 console connection. I just keep one of these in the bag for those rare occurrences when I need one.
You usually get these whenever you purchase/rma a card – but I like to keep one or two in my bag just in case.
Yeah, I carry one of these around. This is handy if I need to connect to a switch that is full but has a free SFP slot. More of a nice-to-have to be honest, but since I have a few spare – I keep one with me.
I keep this knife and a few new blades in my bag at all times. Makes opening up boxes or cutting up cardboard that much easier!
This is a little star drive that is used to remove radios from Aironet APs. I have not used this in a while, but it is small enough to just keep in the bag in case.
Good ole telecom punch-down tool and cutter
I keep a set of “jewler” type screw drivers in my bag. Sometimes you run across that small screw that a normal driver is too big for.
Never know, a pencil is always good to have handy! Notice it also has a white eraser, these are good for cleaning electronic connectors as well.
I keep a few markers in my bag as well – these are good for labeling cables or anything else that you might need to label.
And lastly, the good ole army surplus utility bag. Simple and strong!
These next few are in my laptop bag, but are usually with me when I travel to the data center and such.
Ahh… peace and quiet among all the noises of the fans. These are wonderful and making working in a data center (or flying on a plane) that much quieter. They are simply AMAZING! I usually keep a pen and some batteries in there when I travel, easy and quick to grab when needed.
Yes, I carry a small AP with me everywhere. When I am at a data center where I need to have multiple people connect, this works great! Simple setup and allows us all to connect via WPA2 to the network. I also use this when I stay at hotels – much nicer to have a secured wireless connection then what the hotel offers. Also, since I am the only one using this – I get a bit more wireless bandwidth to myself.
These are most of the tools I keep with me at all times. I do also have the tone generators for cable tracing, a old fashion butt set for testing telecom, but those are not used as often as the tools on listed here.