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Patch Panel - Is There A Sexier Piece Of Kit Around?

Feb 6, 2008
It's strange how the media picks up on some things and not others. Pictures of young, sexy, glamorous actresses and singers seem to litter our newspapers and TV screens. Miraculously the patch panel has somehow managed to slip under the radar of social consciousness. Okay so it might not be that sexy, and it may not have curves in all the right places, and it may not have been caught snorting coke off the toilet seat in London's most exclusive bar, but it is nevertheless pretty exciting. Isn't it? Okay I can see I'm losing you. Here's why they are pretty cool.

What it is?

The patch panel is a panel that houses cable connections. It is a hardware unit that contains a group of sockets. These sockets provide a link through system for electrical or communications systems. They have an ingoing side and an outgoing side. Typically the front side will house the connection of a shorter patch cable. The reverse side of the panel holds a longer cable that is typically more permanent. The hardware enables a number of different circuits to be arranged.

What do they do?

For the layman the place that you are most likely to have seen a patch panel is in an old black and white film or grainy footage from the Second World War phone rooms. The classic image is of a well spoken woman with a shrill voice that transfers the phone calls. She would pull out a cable from an enormous panel of connections and reconnect the cable elsewhere to enable the call. This process was called 'patching through' and the operator would say 'I'm just patching you through'.

The system means that cables can be interconnected in a variety of different ways. It is a manual process which makes it an easy way of interconnecting cables. The user has to plug and unplug the connections themselves. This makes it easy to monitor the connection that has been made and is a tangible way of keeping track of the connections.

What are they used for?

Patch panels are used for any place where connecting and reconnecting hardware needs to take place. An example of where they are utilised is for data transfers. Some of the other major uses are in audio and video applications. The other major place where they are used is in telephone transfers. Although we no longer have the manual operators that patch our calls through similar technology is still being utilised.

Where are they used?

Because of the wide range of different uses of a patch panel there are many places in which they are utilised. They are used in telephone exchanges, broadcast studios, recording studios, audio and video production studios, computer networks, communications studios. Patch panels are used in local area connections (LANs). They use them to connect computers to a network and to the internet.

What's so great about Patch Panels?

Patch panels offer great value for money as they are cheaper than other forms of switching equipment. They enable the transmission of signals between cables without loss of information. The user is able to manually change the cables on the front making it easy to operate. Patch panels often have a provision that protects the cabling in the result of a power failure. It can also be possible to utilise wireless patch panels that enable the user to switch connections with the flip of a switch.
About the Author
Shaun Parker has been at the forefront of the Networking Industry for several years and has a wealth of knowledge on the Patch Panels.
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