Testing Cables; An Introduction

Choosing the Right Cable Tester for Your Cable.

Cable testers come in all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of prices and capabilities. Choosing a cable tester can be a difficult task. This site is here to help you choose the cable tester that gives you the most control over your quality for the least money.

List the Defects You Need to Find.

By matching the level of testing to the types of defects in the product, you'll be getting the best results without the cost of over-testing or quality problems of under-testing.

Normally you just list the defects that you commonly see. If your cable is a "critical application," where failure of the cable could lead to serious harm, you should broaden your list of defects to include even the more rare defects (as long as they are reasonably possible).

Each manufacturing practice has defects inherent to it.

Make your list of defects. Start by looking at your cable and its manufacturing processes. Make a list of the defects you commonly see. Here is a table showing cable parts, manufacturing processes, and common defects. You can get ideas for your list from this table.

If your cable is a critical application then add to that list less common (but still possible) defects.

Some defects may escape.

Some defects may not be found during manufacturing. The cable may be put into service only to fail after a short time. You should examine cables returned from the field to determine which defects may have been caused during manufacturing. Add these "defect escapes" to your list.

Cable PartManufacturing ProcessesCommon Defects
Wires and CablesStripped, tinned, crimped, labeled, wrappedCut strands, nicked insulation, crushed insulation, incorrect wire gauge, wire missing, wires swapped
Pins and LugsSoldered, crimped, IDCBroken wires, bad solder joints, weak crimps, loose strands, cut strands
Connector ShellBare connectors, overmoulding, assembled backshellsCrushed or nicked insulation
ShieldingSoldered braid, clamped foil, soldered foilBroken braid, bad solder joint, cut foil

What Level of Testing Do You Need?

With your list of defects at hand read through this list to help decide what type of testing will find each defect.

100% Test Required but No Specs Given?

Test specifications for connection resistance, hipot voltage, insulation resistance, etc. are often provided by your customer. However, often you'll find 100% testing is required but no actual test specs are given. In this event you are left to decide what level of testing to perform. Choose your testing carefully and you'll avoid having cable fail in the field.

The web has several sites that can help you choose the level of testing you need. For more information on testing cables, cable testers, and choosing specifications have a look at these sites: