Cable Testers

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Why Cable Testing?

Despite the triumph of wireless technologies, cables are still one of the most important lifelines of technology. Defective cables are annoying in the most harmless case, but critical, expensive or even life-threatening in many areas such as industry, medical technology or aerospace. A reliable test of cables is therefore essential.

Cable testing plays an important role in all "life phases" of a cable, for example:

  • When you develop new cables.
  • When you create prototypes of cables.
  • When you produce cables on a large scale.
  • If you need to test the quality of cables, for example in incoming/outgoing goods inspection in QM in general.
  • If you need to check cables in daily use as part of preventive maintenance.
  • If you need to find and eliminatey a cable fault quickly in an emergency.

Which Cable Types Need to be Tested?

In engineering, cables come in many types for different characteristics. Depending on the cable type, different test methods are used. Here is a rough classification and overview:

Cable type Examples Test method/test device(s)
Power supply cables for low voltage1) Cables of plug-in power supply adaptors, connecting cables of solar systems, various cables in the automotive sector such as: Low-resistance battery or starter cable, cables for windshield wipers, lighting, door openers, cable harnesses for sensors and displays Continuity test/test for line breakage, faulty wiring, short circuit, resistance
(cable test systems with extended functions such as continuous loop test, measurement of capacitance, inline components, etc.)
Continuity testers
Multimeters
Cable testing systems
Cable type Examples Test method/test device(s)
Power supply lines for low voltage2) and medium voltage3) Mains voltage lines, three-phase lines, various cables in the e-car (Continuity test/test for line break, short circuit) (Continuity testers, multimeters, cable testing systems)
Insulation resistance Megaohmmeters/meggers
(Dielectric strength testers4)
Cable type Examples Test method/test device(s)
Short audio, video and data cables Cables with connectors such as RCA, jack, XLR, HDMI, DVI, USB, Sub-D, RJ45 and others Continuity test/test for line breakage, faulty wiring, short circuit, resistance
(cable test systems with extended functions such as continuous loop test, measurement of capacitance, inline components, etc.)
Continuity testers
Multimeters
Cable testing systems
Long audio, video and data cables, often fixed connections as above; public address systems, telecom and building bus cables, Ethernet/LAN, cables to radio/satellite receiving systems, robot control cables, field bus systems (Vector) network analysis: frequency dependent transmission characteristics, characteristic impedance, attenuation VNA
Time domain reflectometry, "cable radar TDR devices, pulse generator + oscilloscope
Cable type Examples Test method/test device(s)
Fiber optic cable/fiber optic cable High speed data transmission Optical time domain reflectometry OTDR

1) Low voltage up to 48 V.
2) AC voltages (e.g. 50 Hz) up to 1 kV.
3) 1 to 35 kV (as opposed to high voltage between 60 and 150 kV).
4) Destructive testing.

Cable tester systems...

...are used to test certain operating characteristics and sources of defects of cables, such as continuity, correct wiring, short circuits, line resistance etc. Continuity testers and multimeters are the simplest cable tester solutions for these characteristic and they may offer a good and inexpensive way to test single and simple cables with few wires. For cables with many wires/conductors or entire cable harnesses, cable testers or cable test systems are a good choice: Processes can be automated here so that even untrained personnel can carry out the cable test in defined, simple steps. In addition, multiple cables with multiple wires/lines are reliably measured in all possible combinations and for all important parameters. For intermittent faults ("loose contacts" etc.) also as repeated loop test. All cable tests are traceable and can be well documented (important for quality management). An important argument for cable testers is the adaptation of different connector types commonly used in industry and technology as well as cable types both on the hardware side and in the software by "learning" a golden master.