• Please review our updated Terms and Rules here

Thicknet/10base5 Ethernet: A Test Setup, Cable and Parts Available!

glitch

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
5,018
Location
Central VA
album with descriptions: https://imgur.com/a/GDUR36j

A couple months ago, folks were discussing thicknet/10base5 on cctalk, and the topic of cable availability came up. I mentioned it to one of my local parts suppliers, who said he had a full roll of thicknet somewhere in the warehouse. Last week, this came home with me:



It's a full roll -- 1100 feet of Belden 89880 Ethernet cable! It's quite heavy :) Ethernet coax is its own thing, but is dimensionally similar to RG-8/U or LMR-400. N connector terminations intended for RG-8/U will work fine. I sourced a bunch of mil-spec AMP N female connectors for this project. Typically you see thicknet terminated in N male connectors, but using a female means you don't need a F:F joiner to hook the terminator on:







The quad shielding is especially fun to work with. I don't have a 3-level coax stripper that will handle cable this large, so I had to use one of my 2-level strippers and work it back a little further with a knife. I did manage to stick a braid strand into my finger and make it bleed. Hadn't had to touch thicknet since CCNA days in high school, and even then it was covered only because Cisco hadn't taken it out yet, and because the instructor thought we might have to one day tap in to an existing thicknet backbone. Still remembered how to do it, not that it's particularly complex. Here's the "close" end:



It's a Cabletron ST-500 transceiver with an AMP "non-intrusive" vampire tap kit, which makes it the ST-500-01. It's "non-intrusive" because you don't have to cut the cable to install it. You bolt the tap on, core out a hole for the "stinger" contact, and then screw the stinger contact in with the other end of the coring tool. Then it bolts to the transceiver. Remember to set the SQE (heartbeat) switch, or you have to remove the tap from the transceiver! The AUI cable on the left goes to the Sun-proprietary AUI port on the SPARCstation 10. Yes, I did have to connect to IRC over thicknet :p



This is the "far" end, the DEChub 90 relocated to a stack of boxes near the end of the thicknet cable. Another Cabletron ST-500 here as well, connected to a DECbridge 90FL module, which provides AUI and 10baseFL fiber. This was too far away from the Cisco 2801 router that the DEChub usually talks to, via a DECbrouter 90T1, so I just connected it to the main network over 10baseT with a DECrepeater 90TS.

So, there you go, a thicknet segment brought up in 2018! Required tools include the AMP 228917-1 coring tool, hex key (comes with AMP tool), N connector crimp dies (I used Paladin 2039 dies in a CrimpALL 8000 frame), wire cutters, coax stripper and/or knife, small screwdriver, and heavy cable cutters. I've got around 1080 feet of Belden 89880 coax, so if anyone is wanting their own thicknet cable, PM me! I can provide any level of "kit," from just the cable up to crimped-on N connectors, terminators, and tap kits. I have a very few Cabletron ST-500-01 transceiver/tap kits new in the box, including the instruction manual. The one thing I don't have a bunch of is AUI cables, but I have a source online that I'm happy to pass on.

If you want to install your own vampire taps but don't want to buy the AMP tool for it, you *can* use a drill and a steady hand.
 
Last edited:

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
40,769
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
You're bringing back old nightmares of trying to find the reason a network went down...

Pretty stuff, though. I don't know why I'm hanging onto a garbage bag full of RG-58 (thinnet)--I haven't been able to give it away, even locally.
 

VERAULT

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
6,519
Location
Connecticut, USA
i still keep a few BNC switches lying around. I should build a legacy network. But at the same time Id be tempted to build a type 1 token ring network.. Christ I miss token ring. Remember Olicom? They were my goto for TR cards.
 

Unknown_K

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2003
Messages
8,643
Location
Ohio/USA
I still keep a 3com hub that had coax along with ethernet and aui just incase I go insane and want to relive coax networking (and a few cables). Also have a Tokenring hub along with cards for pretty much all systems (even Nubus mac and Pcmcia for laptops).

Not sure how much I would do with either but it sounded like a good idea at the time.
 

glitch

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
5,018
Location
Central VA
Just confirmed an order for "intrusive" type taps with N connectors. Those look like this:



Not my picture. Note that contrary to what the picture conveys, we were told that one does not typically screw the N terminator directly to the tap like that. We were told to use a jumper to extend the segment somewhat past the tap, and put the terminator on the jumper. I'm not 100% sure on why that's done. It was suggested on cctalk that it might be too short a distance between the impedance bump of the tap and the end of the transmission line. In any case, I will have 40x of those on the way soon, which should make the existing surplus stock of transceivers with no taps far more useful :)
 

mR_Slug

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Messages
941
Location
UK
I will have 40x of those on the way soon...

What ARE you building?

I used to have my systems connected via thin Ethernet, and I'd agree with most that the thick version is a much better design. But all that wire. Currently I'm resetting up my token ring network, For the older thick stuff, If I were going to do it, I'd use something like DELNI. Much more compact and practical. But then practical isn't always the funnest method.
 

glitch

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
5,018
Location
Central VA
Was the DELNI actually a hub or a multi-attachment transceiver? I know there *were* multi-attachment transceivers, Allied Telesyn made them, certainly others too. AFAIK they didn't factor in to the 5-4-3 rule, but did mean you could have several AUI drops off one Ethernet tap.

I'm mostly just acquiring parts to resell to other hobbyists. I figure, buy in bulk, get the price down, and make stuff that's practically unobtainium in hobbyist quantities generally available to others. People say they're interested in this stuff but aren't able to get the parts to make it happen. I've got the working capital and supply chain resources and space, and I ship a lot of stuff anyway for my day-job. So, maybe vintage network stuff can be like the XT-IDE kits turned out: something that people want, that I can get the price down on, and factor in to what's increasingly becoming part of my day-job anyway!
 

NeXT

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2008
Messages
7,231
Location
Kamloops, BC, Canada
What ARE you building?

I used to have my systems connected via thin Ethernet, and I'd agree with most that the thick version is a much better design. But all that wire. Currently I'm resetting up my token ring network, For the older thick stuff, If I were going to do it, I'd use something like DELNI. Much more compact and practical. But then practical isn't always the funnest method.

Shhhh. I wanna see where this is going as I think I know where he's going but I was not able to source much beyond cabling last year.
Hold his beer for a minute and watch where it goes. 8)
 

inaxeon

Experienced Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2017
Messages
61
Just confirmed an order for "intrusive" type taps with N connectors. Those look like this:



Not my picture. Note that contrary to what the picture conveys, we were told that one does not typically screw the N terminator directly to the tap like that. We were told to use a jumper to extend the segment somewhat past the tap, and put the terminator on the jumper. I'm not 100% sure on why that's done. It was suggested on cctalk that it might be too short a distance between the impedance bump of the tap and the end of the transmission line. In any case, I will have 40x of those on the way soon, which should make the existing surplus stock of transceivers with no taps far more useful :)

That is my picture, and I do specifically say (on the page this was taken from) that attaching terminators to N-Connector taps is not the 'done thing' ;-)

I would imagine the stipulated length of the jumper to extend beyond the last node was 2.5M in length.
 
Last edited:
Top