What’s in your Networking Tool bag?

For most of the last 6 years, I’ve either not been allowed physical access to our hardware in the DC (a long story from my previous job) or I’ve been working in the same Data Centre as my desk, with no remote locations. So the need to have the tools of my trade with me while doing work based travelling has been very limited (or non-existent).

However last year the company I work for was acquired, and now I’m finding myself in the position that I’m travelling more and need to work in other DC’s while out & about.

So I need to travel with tools, and I’m wondering what’s in your networking tool bag? My laptop bag is small (and mostly light), so I’m hoping to not go too OTT.

My starting list is as follows:

  • Assorted RJ45 Cat5e cables (mainly short (0.3m to 2m – Grey & Blue) + joiner & cross-over adaptor.
  • Cage Nuts and bolts (enough to rack 3 to 5 devices).
  • Small Torch (LED).
  • USB Serial Adaptor (need a new one as current seems to not work with Windows 8) + DB9 adaptor & RJ45 Roll over adaptor (Thanks to WTI).
  • Multi-bit screw driver (with ~10 bits).
  • Some USB cables.
  • Cage Nut insertion tool.
  • USB 10/100 Ethernet.

This is in-addition to the normal stuff (laptop, Lync headset, headphones, USB charger, phone cables, ect).

However I do know I need to find good ear protection. I’ve been spoilt by my home DC having the main cooling plant out of the data rooms. Where I was working on Thursday was loud. Thank goodness there were disposable ear plugs available.


3 thoughts on “What’s in your Networking Tool bag?

  1. I have the following (which I think you mainly have):

    • Serial USB Converter (check it works with Windows and Linux – see below).

    • 2M straight cat-5

    • 10cm cross over cat-5

    • UTP-UTP Coupler (connect x-over with straight).

    • Cisco Serial Cable – With 2x normal cisco DB-9’s and a cisco “red” DB-9 adapter. These three plugs, with either a roll-over or straight cat-5 lead works with every serial port I have come across. The red plugs came with ids sensors, and are typically needed for PC/Server based systems. I always intended to map out the pins so I could make them if needed.

    • A clover leaf C6 to C14 IEC power plug. (Allows typical DC Power leads to power laptop in DC). http://www.amazon.co.uk/Socket-Cloverleaf-Plug-Adapter-250v/dp/B003OSUXH0

    • Very small tool case – magnetic bits and screwdriver, side cutters and long nose pliers, cage nut tool (the flat type), small watch type screwdrivers,

    • USB Ethernet Adapter – to give two Ethernet ports on laptop.

    • Small USB hub (powered from laptop). With only two ports on laptop – usefull when building kit at desk and need key/mouse/second eth/serial console connected. Mine is only about an inch and half square, and has four ports.

    • USB stick or external HDD to carry extra software images.

    • Random bag of nuts/bolts/washers/machine screws etc – Some cage nuts and bolts, cisco rack mount screws etc. Small amount of Velcro roll.

    Additional Items – These are things I find useful on some jobs
    • Small linux netbook – Used for console access allowing laptop to remain plugged in, in office or separately. Mines ultra light and takes up no room, has tftp server on it and minicom.
    • If I know I maybe doing cabling I through in crimp tools, and rj-45 ends (Most DCs have these). Normally these live in my car boot.
    • Tone generator/Probe for tracing cables (not used it much here). Normally lives in car boot.
    • Multimeter with built in cat5 tester – I do a lot of electronics – useful for testing cables/fuses. Normally lives in car boot.
    • Some pre-printed pairs of labels – a-a, 1-1 etc, can be used to temp label cables of the same color.

    I don’t have a torch – tend to use a flashlight app on my phone, but a narrow torch would be handy in cabinets.


    • Cheers Adam,

      The C5-C14 adaptor and USB hub are great ideas and will be adding those. I should have an small-ish memory stick in my desk drawer. On the image front I’m so used to SolarWinds NCM that I normally go for get it on online, add it to Orion and use a Config Change Template to upgrade to the correct version.

      The AirConsole is something I’m really considering instead of an USB serial adaptor / Linux netbook as it’s more useful and compact. Then again I tend to be travelling by plane and it all needs to fit in my checked luggage.

      On the cable tester found I was assuming that I would not find something small enough, but the LinkSprinter looks really good, however it’s US only currently and they don’t know if (not when?) it’ll be coming to Europe.

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