Repair a Broken Ethernet Plug

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About: So many things to learn and make, so little time! I like things that are cool, useful, efficient, well crafted. Subscribe to me! If I inspired you, share it and you'll get a patch.

Intro: Repair a Broken Ethernet Plug

The locking tab of RJ45 plugs breaks very easily. Replace it by two nylon cable ties (aka zip ties), in minutes.

IMPORTANT NOTES:
- This must be regarded as a temporary "Mac Gyver" solution, for home usage.
- Definitely not for IT staff! (no crimper? asking for one in the budget won't get you fired!)
- Before the tab breaks, consider protecting the plug.

Step 1: On Broken RJ45 Locking Tabs...

There are always some Ethernet cables around with a broken tab. Did you remember to exchange the cable?

Now the RJ45 plug no longer locks properly, making the connection unreliable. You firmly push the plug into the socket, hurray you're connected again! so you forget about the plug until the next lost connection some weeks later, wasting a long time to figure out that it's this damn broken plug again. And so on.

Now it's time to act and grab your RJ45 crimp tool. Oh, you don't have one? Or you're reluctant to use it? so read on...

Step 2: Needed Stuff

Tools:
  • Cable tie tool (optional)
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting pliers

Materials:
  • TWO CABLE TIES (small size)
They are true heroes of this instructable.
Their exact size matters, this is discussed in the next step.

Step 3: Find the Right Size of Cable Ties

The head of the cable ties must have the proper width to snap into the socket, and be easily released.

To test, insert the head into the socket as shown in the first picture below. It should snap.

Then gently pull the cable tie. You should feel some resistance.

I measured a head width of 4.3mm.

Step 4: Cut the Cable Tie #1 to Length

Cut approx 4.5 cm (1.8 inches).

Step 5: Make Its Head Thin

With the sharp knife, and preferably on a piece of scrap material, cut the head of the cable tie, to make it flat.

Step 6: Bend the Cable Tie #1

Bend it as shown.

Step 7: Use the Cable Tie #2

With the second cable tie, tighten the first one.

Step 8: Done (Almost)

Now it looks funny. Is that meant to work? Read on...

Step 9: Tune It

Tune the position and bends of the cable tie #1, so that it acts as a spring.

Step 10: Now, Use It !

Insert the repaired plug as shown.

You should get this beloved "click" noise again!

4 People Made This Project!

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248 Discussions

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lkuhelj

2 months ago on Step 10

To be honest, I think this overthinks it a bit. I solved the problem by taking one of those little plastic pieces that you get with your bread that is used to close it and with a pair of scissors cut the right size that would fit on the side of the plug that had that tab that broke off and super glued it there. It fit snugly and didn't look ugly pugly. Best of all, it isn't fiddly when you plug it in.

Sometimes simple is best.

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DaveS306

10 months ago

I would like to mention a dirtier hack:

Place a peice of elctrical tape on the top of the ethernet plug so that it covers the top and sides of the flat area.

This will make the non-clip connection snug.

It isn't perfect, but works in most household situation ;)

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KeithG56

1 year ago

Excellent - worked a treat! :)

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donny011

2 years ago

genius pure genius brilliant it works perfectly, took about 7 min, i copied your steps picture by picture no problems .i dont know what all the fuss about cutting the lug of the cable tie was about, mine sliced off in two cuts . a note for those who used elastic bands ,they will fall apart in a few weeks as the rubber perishes with uv , heat and air, no luck there then!! plus with the added bonus of not checking the cable when the internet connection drops because you fixed it with a band

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dosbert

2 years ago

Great idea! My test cables thank you.

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SimoneL17

2 years ago

Great idea. Thanks ?

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Khan Baba

2 years ago

very good idea :-D

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MarkC14

3 years ago on Introduction

I had an occasion to use this instructable tonight and found that three refinements were necessary for the repair to work properly and in sharing them below it is my hope that others will at least give this solution a try because it is a clever option and I would not have thought of it were it not for this site. That said, let's dive in.

1. First, the need to make the zip tie head thinner is necessary and without question, however, the process by which you do it is important. I found that for the zip ties I had it was not possible to use an exacto or disposable precision blade because the plastic was too hard. I ended up using a large butcher knife and a kitchen chopping block. PLEASE use caution when doing this. Take careful note of where your fingers are before cutting. If you have smaller hands or are at all unsure about your ability to do this, get an adult or someone with strong, steady hands to do it for you.

2. Next, it is extremely unlikely that the thinning of the head with a knife will be precise enough. I found it easier and more precise to refine the thinning process with a metal nail file. The one I used has a black plastic handle about 1.25 inches long and the metal file portion is about 2 inches. They are available in the beauty section of any popular store like Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Target, etc.

The thickness must be such that the zip tie head does not stick up above the RJ45 connector when in place. I found it easier to keep the nail file still in one hand while moving the zip tie head back and forth across it.

When the thickness is precisely the same height as the top of the RJ45 connector, the next step is to cut the head of the zip tie to a shorter length, perhaps in half. This is because the point of the "click" which secures the connector in the jack is quite a precise location and my zip tie head was just too long thus causing the notch to be too far back and not click. Use the nail file to file the end square and smooth.

3. Lastly, I found that using a small rubber band around the connector under the zip tie will provide a better spring action. An additional rubber band around the cable and zip tie on the cable area behind the connector entirely will provide additional support and finally about a half inch behind that is where I put the zip tie to hold it all tight. This makes three points (see pictures) where the modified zip tie is held to the cable and this is important because any side to side movement will cause the "click" to fail and the connector to come out of the jack.

Caution: As stated by the author of this instructable, this is a temporary repair and certainly is not something you'd want to do in a business environment for more than a short time period. For the home user, however, it should suffice. However, there are certain jacks where this fix may not be suitable; for example if the jack is hard to access or is where the connector will be the only thing holding the cable in the jack. For the latter, some sort of strain relief rigging is required either with a piece of string or wire holding the cable up or some type of clever cable management. This would most likely occur if the repaired end of the cable was connected to a switch or router mounted on a wall or in a rack. But that's for another article!

Feedback: Some commenters here have suggested that the better solution is to cut off the broken connector altogether and replace it with a new one. Respectfully, this is not always feasible. Having been a network administrator for over a decade, I've run into several situations where an "in the field" repair was the only option.

CableInMacWithFile.jpgFinishedCableTopView.jpgFinishedSideViewBetter.jpg
1 reply
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laxapMarkC14

Reply 2 years ago

Thank you for this very detail feedback and for a very effective variation with rubber band.

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laxap

3 years ago on Introduction

"Approx 1.8 inches" could be best translated to 2 inches ;-)

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AnonUhammy434

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

Not if the web page is not working properly... but it is not unusual to see a clever online comment from a prig.

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nerd7473hammy434

Reply 3 years ago

Probably lag, I've done the same thing because the Internet was slow and I kept spamming...

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joshsh

3 years ago on Introduction

What a neat trick. It only takes a few minutes, and really holds in the cable until you press to release, just like the original tab. Having also to press the neck of the tie when inserting the plug is only a minor inconvenience. Like others, I found the zip tie plastic too hard for a small knife, so I used a pair of flush wire cutters, which were convenient for fine-tuning the thickness of the head.

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AnonU

3 years ago on Introduction

It's unusual to see decimal values when using English measurements, so
1.8 inches would be better translated as 1 and 13/16 inches.

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AnonU

3 years ago on Introduction

It's unusual to see decimal values when using English measurements, so 1.8 inches would be better translated as 1 and 13/16 inches.

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AnonU

3 years ago on Introduction

It's unusual to see decimal values when using English measurements, so 1.8 inches would be better translated as 1 and 13/16 inches.

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ShwetaV

3 years ago on Introduction

thank you so much.!!!!! it works perfect... actually I had only one zip tie so in replace of second tie I used rubber band and it works perfectly and it takes only 10 minutes to fix it.... thank you so much again and again it was very helpful for me....

Perfect. It was some delicate work to cut the cable to the size. But it fitted and works perfectly (actually my son, 12 years, did the final work). Thanks for the good idea!