Media converters come in a variety of computer network connector types. The differing types of network media, the physical representation of a data channel, is really just the type of cabling running in to the converter. For example, CAT5 cabling running in to a converter and being converted to BNC Coaxial Cable.

Media converters can ONLY convert the transmission media, i.e. cabling. They are simple plug changers, and cannot change the network protocols or transmission method, for example, 100BaseTX (Fast Ethernet) to 10BaseT (Ethernet). To do that you need a Switch, Bridge or Router.

Some media converters offer 10/100BaseT input capabilities, but can only output one type and not the other - they output whatever is put in. As a result you can make a 10/100BaseT to 10/100BaseFX media converter, taking both 10Mbps or 100Mbps CAT5 inputs, but if you plug in a 10BaseT CAT5, expect only 10BaseFL output. Cabling and network transmission protocols are quite numerous and bizarre.

Media converters CAN convert from electrical signals (over copper wire in CAT5 for example) to another type, like optical transmission media (fibre optic). There exist a large variety of cabling, and an equally dazzling array of media converter types.

Examples include:

  • 10BaseT (RJ-45 CAT5 Ethernet) to 10Base2 (Coaxial or Thinnet) - Therefore 4 combinations
  • 10BaseFL (fibre optic: single mode or multi mode AND ST or SC connectors (see SC-SC fiber optic cable for explanation) to 10BaseT (CAT5 Ethernet) - 4 combinations
  • 100BaseFX (fibre optic: single mode or multi mode AND ST or SC connectors) to 100BaseTX (RJ-45 CAT5 Fast Ethernet) - 4 combinations
  • Token Ring CAT5/Coaxial to Token Ring fibre optic (ST/SC, SM/MM) - 8 combinations
The list is almost endless. I hope to have the full network cable node up and running soon, to make this node a lot easier to understand.

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