Trouble-Shooting to Wire Level

 
 
By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2002-03-25
 
 
 

Agilent Technologies FrameScope 350 is a good test tool for cable plant installers and network trouble-shooters who need to certify cable and get accurate after-installation results in a compact, easy-to-use form factor. The biggest problem we had with the product was a terminally misaligned touch-screen that prevented us from scrolling through long lists of results.

Released to customers last month at a price of $5,995 stand-alone and $7,995 for the DualRemote package (a wire-test end point with no screen), the FrameScope 350 is much like Flukes One Touch cable test tool, which costs $4,125.

The expense of these tools keeps them out of reach of most free-lance mischief-makers, which is good because the FrameScope 350 soaked up a lot of data during tests. I plugged the unit in to our corporate network (with the permission of our IT guy, of course) and got the most curious results: Not only did the FrameScope 350 show the workstations, servers and routers on the network, but the device also picked up more than a thousand workstations outside our firewall.

Agilent technicians showed me how to configure the FrameScope 350 to rein in this prying packet-sniffing behavior, but it was a revealing experience, to say the least.

I also tested our cable plant, where the FrameScope 350 did a good job of diagnosing potential troubles by scrutinizing the usual measurements such as cable length.

I was able to access the FrameScope 350 via a Web browser to get results from remote locations in the building. The FrameScope is easy to access via the Web, and I was able to set up and use the device without once reading a users manual. The touch-screen interface made tests, including cable tests of Category 6 wire, a simple chore. The FrameScope 350 can be connected to a portable printer to dash out tags noting pass/ fail or identifying information.

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