HellermannTyton Edge Clips: No-Budge Cable Mounting for Sheet Metal and Plastic

September 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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hellermann-tyton-edge-clipI’ve seen a lot of cable clips over the past few years, and even regularly use a few kinds myself, but it seems like they’re all either somewhat light-duty (they accommodate just one cord) and are mounted via adhesive backing, or they’re built to handle heavier cable bundles and require surface-damaging hardware (like screws or anchors) for installation. Not to mention that they’re almost entirely intended to mount flush onto flat surfaces like walls and furniture. What happens if you want to run a bundle of cables along the edge of a sheet metal fixture?

You get HellermannTyton’s Edge Clips, that’s what. Available in two styles, they basically combine the features of basic cord clips or cable tie anchors with built-in clamps that grip onto the edges of sheet metal or plastic sheeting without the need for adhesives or hardware. They can be installed wherever you need them, and relied upon to keep a death grip on whatever that object may be until you decide that you want to remove them.

Here’s how they work. Edge Clips are made up of an integral metal clamp, which has a considerable amount of bite to keep the clips firmly in place, combined with your choice of either a cable clip or cable tie anchor. The cord clip flips open and snaps shut to fully encircle wires, and the cable tie anchors give you tie-down points for cable tie-fastened cord bundles. But whichever style you choose, you can be sure that it has staying power. Once pushed onto an edge, the clamps aggressively resist backward pull, so you don’t need to worry about them slipping off.

As a matter of fact, you know that a clamp really works when the manufacturer includes a note that it may leave very slight scratches behind post-removal. That may sound like a negative to some, but it actually makes me all the more confident in the product. If these things have such strong grip that they leave a little evidence of themselves behind, then that says that they really work. And besides, what are a few tiny scratches on a utilitarian sheet metal fixture when you know you can reliably mount cables wherever you need them? Pish posh.

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360 Electrical Rotating Outlet: Outta My Way, Bulky Plug!

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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360-rotating-duplex-outletsThis may seem like a crazy question, but power receptacles are duplex (ie, they come in pairs) for a reason, right? Once upon a time, when electricity was just starting to get around, some very thoughtful and practical engineer got the idea that if you’re going to take the trouble to put in a receptacle, you might at well have two usable outlets instead of just one (at least that’s how I imagine it went). The concept worked like a charm until electrical safety codes got stricter, and power cord plugs grew to almost grotesque proportions to accommodate ground pins, GFCIs and who knows what else. Granted, these features keep us a lot safer in the long run, but seriously – have you tried to use two ginormous mutant plugs in adjacent outlets lately? It’s impossible!

I took out a tape measure this morning to size up a few of the bulkier plugs we have laying around the house, and here’s a sampling of the numbers I came up with…

Hair dryer plug:1½” x 2¾”
Beard Trimmer (for the record, not mine) plug: 1½” x 2”
Digital camera charger plug: 2¼” x 2”

With dimensions like that, and the way they overlap onto neighboring outlets, our appliance and gadget plugs are effectively halving the number of functional power outlets in our homes. Luckily, 360 Electrical has decided to help us take back what’s rightfully ours with their revolutionary rotating outlet.

At first glance, it looks like a traditional duplex receptacle, but the 360 rotating outlet sets itself apart from the rest as soon as you plug a power cord in and turn your wrist. The outlets turn! Any way you need them to! When you have the power to shift the positions of your outlets as needed, that means you’ll pretty much never have to worry about plugs crowding each other out again. Want to have a nightlight and a hairdryer plugged in at the same time? No problem!

What’s really amazing about these rotating receptacles is that they can be spun around even while they’re powering something, so you get all the benefits of customization with complete, nonstop functionality as well. And once you have them exactly where you want them, the outlets lock into place at one of the 18 locking points along each outlet’s circumference. If you’re sick of strategizing which devices to plug in where, you’ll definitely want to give these a try.

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Wrap-Around Heat Shrink Tubing: How to Insulate Cables Without Unplugging Them First

September 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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wrap-around-heat-shrinkToday, let’s talk about the things that you, in retrospect, should have thought of earlier. Things like letting your newly housebroken puppy out before you left for the night. Closing the garage door when you peeled out of the driveway, headed for the airport. The fact that a first name like Moonbeam or Ruckus might thwart the career goals of your child, who is now 17 and aspires to become a Supreme Court Justice. Or maybe just the possibility that vital network cables or electrical wiring that can’t be temporarily disconnected post-install would someday need a little extra insulation or strain relief.

I can’t do anything to help with the gross spot on the carpet, stolen lawn mower, or bitter, upwardly-mobile teenager, but those undisconnectable cables aren’t as big a deal as you might think.

Thanks to Zippertubing’s very cool new line of wrap-around heat shrink tubing, it’s easy to repair or add some extra protection to cables that you either can’t, or would just prefer not to, unplug. Unlike traditional heat shrink that needs to be slipped over connectors and slid along the length of the cable you’re trying to cover, wrap-around heat shrink is slit along its length, so that you can slip it around cables from the side.

You’re probably thinking the same thing I was when I first heard about this tubing: “Soooooooo… what happens to the slit when you start to shrink this stuff?” The answer is: nothing. Because thanks to an adhesive strip along one edge, the slit is nonexistent by the time you get around to applying heat. Once the sleeving is positioned the way you want it around the cable, you just peel the backing off the adhesive strip and press it against the other side, sealing everything into a solid tube.

Once that’s done, shrink away – you’ll end up with well-insulated cables that won’t leave you feeling even the tiniest bit of regret. I just wish I could say the same for poor Moonbeam.

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Black Box LockPORT Patch Cables: Put an End to Accidental Unplugs

September 8, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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lockport-patch-cordsAs I’ve kept a close eye on every new product to join our lineup, one thing has become abundantly clear: if you need to oops-proof your data connections, keep vandals away from patch panels, save space in a server enclosure, or otherwise add a combined element of convenience and genius to your data center, Black Box® products are the ones to turn to. If you’ve ever thought, “hey, you know what would be great?”, they’ve probably already come with it, or have it in the works.

I thought they had already hit the height of revolutionary patch cord design when they came out with one that had a 90-degree angled connector, but it gets better: they just introduced the LockPORT™ locking patch cord, a network cable that, once plugged in, can’t be yanked out of its port accidentally or purposefully. Thanks to special little locks that slide into each connector and require actual effort to remove, they perfectly embody a little concept that I like to call “removal only with approval.”

LockPORT™ patch cords are available in Cat5e and Cat6, and give you the choice of two different levels of protection: security lock, and keyed lock. The first, involving a green security lock, is designed to guard against accidental unplugs, the kind that might happen if you were to inadvertently tug on a patch cord that’s adjacent to another cable you’re working on, or if a moving object snagged onto a cable and pulled it out of its port. You release the security lock by pinching its two sides together and pulling it out of the connector.

The other (keyed) lock type is red, and while it slides easily into place like the green lock, it takes more effort and a special tool to disengage and remove it. This lock style prevents both accidental unplugs as well as tampering by vandals or other unauthorized users.

What’s very cool about LockPORT™ patch cords is that their locks can be interchanged to create any type of locking configuration you need. This feature is extremely convenient, because in many cases it will allow you to customize as needed, without necessarily having to purchase a slew of new patch cords. Very nice.