One of the most confusing parts of starting Cisco research is keeping all cable types in mind and remembering their uses. This often happens when a CCNA or CCNP candidate begins to set up their own home labs and suddenly realizes that they have equipment to run the lab, not cables.
With this in mind, there are several common Cisco cable types and their main uses.
First, there is a common old "straight cable", which is named because the 8 wires inside the cable are connected in a straight line through the wires. To reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI), the wire can be twisted inside, but the wire connected to pin 1 on one end connects to pin 1 on the other end. Home labs often use straight cables to connect the switch port to the router's Ethernet port by attaching a transceiver to the Ethernet port. Straight cables are also good for connecting the BRI interface to the ISDN simulator.
"Crossover cable" is so named because wires cross between pins. This allows devices to transmit and receive simultaneously, and crossover cables are essential for creating trunks by connecting ports directly on the Cisco switch.
The “rollover cable” allows you to use a laptop or PC to connect directly to the Cisco console port. This is the blue cable that comes with the new Cisco device, and it's the cable that engineers tend to keep in their daily lives. Without a rollover cable (commonly referred to as a "console cable"), you cannot connect your laptop directly to a Cisco device.
Finally there is the DTE/DCE cable. You'll need a DTE/DCE cable to create a frame relay cloud in your home lab (using one of your Cisco routers as DCE) or to connect two Cisco routers directly through a serial interface. The DCE interface should provide the clock speed to the DTE interface.
It can be confusing the first time you read about the different cable types, but after dismantling or building a few home labs, you'll be right there on test day!
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