It’s official: LEDs have taken over, and are now making products that have always been cool or useful even more amazing with the addition of lights that practically never burn out. First it was appliance displays, followed by Christmas lights and HDTVs. And now: patch cords?
Meet EVO6™ Self-Tracing Patch Cords from Mertek. I’ll confess, my first (too quick) glance at the name brought on a cringe-worthy thought of Rachael Ray cheerful rasping on about EVOO (for you non-Food Network afficionados, that’s a pseudo-cutesy acronym for extra virgin olive oil), but that soon gave way to rapt admiration for the genius that is EVO6. EVO6™ patch cords are Cat6 (hence the “6″ part of their name), but that’s beside the point: all you really need to know is that their connectors have build-in LEDs, and that you use said LEDs to instantly trace the patch cords and find their precise connection points… at both ends.
The process is easy, because in addition to LEDs being built into both connectors of each patch cord, there’s also a tiny built-in button on the cord boot. Push it, and the LEDs are instantly activated, meaning that your patch cord will be blinking red at both ends. No feeling your way along the cable’s length, no guessing, no need for additional cable tracers - just push a button and you’re done.
Sounds like you just freed up a lot of time… maybe now you can catch up on Rachael Ray and her EVOO.
Filed under: Cable and Wire Storage, Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets
Congratulations all – we’ve made it through another week, and it’s time to celebrate our soon-to-start 3 day Memorial Day weekend with some cinematic fun. Personally, I’m eyeing Men in Black 3, but before heading to the megaplex to escape the 90+ degree heat, there are a few other pre-summer blockbusters to talk about: a couple of our newest product demo videos on YouTube. Roll ‘em!
Brush Grommets: Video Production Dude Fernando is back in front of the camera this week, talking about a few of our stylish and practical brush grommets. Here’s why you should watch: lots of us have grommets in our desktops to control cables and give them a safe pass-through point, but brush grommets take things to the next level. If you’ve ever had a disconnected cable slip back through a grommet and land under or behind your desk, you know how annoying it can be to retrieve it. Brush grommets solve that problem because their cable openings are lined with flexible bristles that conform to cables and don’t give connectors empty space to fall through. That, and these particular grommets look really nice, too.
How to Store Cables with the Reel-A-Pail®: Check out Tiffani’s video demonstration of how to store extension cords and other cables with the Reel-A-Pail® Quickwinder™ – it may look like just a bucket, but it’s so much more. The Quickwinder stashes a cord reel neatly inside a covered heavy duty bucket, so that you can coil up cables on the job and keep them neat and protected while you’re not using them. You’ll even find out how to fasten it to truck beds and other structures for really tough use.
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Heat Shrink Tubing
Happy Friday! It’s time again for our Weekly Video Rewind. I know that a lot of you are probably itching to bust out of the office and head to the movies to catch The Dictator or Battleship, but before you do that, here are a couple of our more recent video demos that show you how to do useful stuff with cool products. So stop fidgeting through your Friday afternoon and check these out, okay? You never know – you may learn something that could make your life (and job) easier come Monday. Roll ‘em!
PRT Wraparound Heat Shrink Tubing: Tiffani, our New Product Expert Extraordinaire, is back in this video, this time to show us a very interesting concept in heat shrink: wraparound tubing. If you’ve never used standard heat shrink tubing before, the whole idea is that you slide the tube-shaped sleeve over the end of a cable, and basically slip the tubing along the length of the cable until it reaches the exact location where it’s needed. This means weaseling heat shrink over the initial obstacle of a plug or connector, and that can be tricky and sometimes completely impractical, especially if there’s such a large size discrepancy between cable and connector that by time you find something that will fit over the plug, it’s too big (even when shrunk) to fully conform to the cable. Sigh. Enter Zippertubing and their PRT wraparound shrink tubing, which is slit all the way along its length so it can be wrapped around cables from the side. Add peel-and stick adhesive edging to the already genius design, and you have a product that turns out a very respectable finished product with nowhere near the hassle of regular heat shrink.
HellermannTyton EVO 7 Cable Tie Gun: When you watch this video, you’ll see that Tiffani’s back again, this time demonstrating a tool that’s a lifesaver for cables and fingers alike: the EVO 7 Cable Tie Gun from HellermannTyton. If you’ve ever installed more than 10 or 20 cable ties in one sitting, you probably know that they have a habit of leaving the fingers a little raw – and then there’s that pesky universal cable tie probelm of overtightening, which can impede signals and damage insulation by essentially strangling your cables. Tiffani shows how to use a cable tie gun to quicky and correctly tension and trim cable ties, all while keeping your hands comfortable.
There’s something about the word “custom” that always seems to make my heart beat a little faster, but then again, who doesn’t drool at the thought of something being made just for them? For example, I love both books and creative architectural details, and there’s this house in a historic neighborhood not far from where I live, which I’ve affectionately come to refer to as “bookshelf house” in honor of the gorgeous custom built-in bookcases (they’re even lit, mind you) that are visible to passers-by when the house is lit up at night. You’re just driving along, glancing casually at the passing homes, and then suddenly you get an eyeful of perfectly painted crimson walls set off by semi-ornate white bookshelves almost artistically loaded with a small library’s worth of reading material. I can never resist giving that sight a longing, head-turning glance, and it’s almost always inevitably followed by me returning home, walking into my guest room, and staring with disgust at the twin particleboard deals holding a hodgepodge of paperbacks and dust. I like to think that the owners of Bookshelf House must feel pretty darn smug.
While this particular example of custom lust is probably a little too old-school and tech-free for a blog that deals primarily with gadgets and cables, here’s something that’s not: Field-terminable HDMI cable from BTX Technologies. Whether you’re fed up with home theater cables that are always longer than you need them to be or are just Jonesing for something made with only you and your sweet A/V setup in mind, you’ll definitely want to take notice.
BTX’s field-terminable cables are rated to HDMI 1.3 standards, and come in either round or ribbon styles, depending on whether you’re planning on bundling them with neighboring cords (choose round), or routing them flat along the wall (that would be ribbon). The bulk cables are simply measured to the exact length you need (no more paying for or cable-managing a bunch of useless slack) and terminated with specially designed crimp-on connectors that achieve an even stronger connection than soldering.
Both the round and ribbon-style home theater cables are made to be ultra flexible, so they can take most tight bends and curves without risking breakage or attenuation. Durability is further enhanced by the connectors’ additional extended plastic boot and strain relief, which gives your HDMI cables extra support just where they need it most.
Custom is now better than ever.
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
It’s Friday afternoon again, and that could only mean one thing: movie review time! This week, we’ll take a look at a couple of product demos that, even though they probably won’t go viral anytime soon, are definitely useful to people who are into cable installation and management. Ready to go? Roll ‘em!
Hinged Raceway Installation: Our New Products guru Tiffani is back to answer a question commonly asked by our customers: what’s the best way to install raceway? Tiffani gives a quick demonstration of how to install raceway using either double-sided tape for standard applications, or screws for jobs that are heavier or otherwise require a little extra staying power. We always mention on our raceway product pages that you have these two options for installation, but I like it that now we actually have a live-action demonstration with detailed explanations and suggestions.
How to Use an EZ-SnapJack™ RJ45: I don’t know how it happened, but we got Fernando out from his usual spot behind the camera, and into the hot seat instead (good thing, though – he knows a ton about our products, too). In this video, Fernando shows how EZ-SnapJacks™ from Platinum Tools work. Before I go any further, in my opinion, the EZ-SnapJack is one of those products that’s so cool and, well, “EZ,” that it almost isn’t fair. I think my jaw dropped a little the first time a rep demonstated this at our office. It’s an RJ45 jack that wires without an actual punchdown tool – you just strip your cable, untwist 4 pairs, line them up in the right color configuration, slide the ends into a tiny clear sleeve, and then snap the whole thing into a jack. No individual wire seatings and punchdowns – and what’s really crazy is that they actually do work. Fernando gives a quick Reader’s Digest-type demo that shows how termination actually happens after the wires have been pre-arranged in the sleeve, and also shows how the jack can be reopened and reused if you need to change things around. Definitely check it out – this is a product worth seeing in action.
When you’ve got a job to do, it pays to have the right tools – take it from the person who once tried to pound in a stray trim nail with a screwdriver handle when a hammer wasn’t immediately available (poor screwdriver). I’m a big proponent of not only having the proper tools, but also keeping them in such a way that they stay in good condition and are easily accessible when you need them. And that’s why, even though I personally never need to store cable reels, I’ve recently become a big fan of the Spoolmate™ Wire Dispenser Cart and Storage System.
The Spoolmate combines some of the most functional elements around (high capacity storage, mobility and ease of use) into one genius, wheeled wire dispenser that may not look too exciting, but really is something special. To quote Guy Fieri of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, “here’s the kicker” – whereas most wire reel carts rely on axles to hold spools of cable in place, the Spoolmate lets you get away from the hassle of moving axles every time you need to change out or reposition a spool of cable.
This is all thanks to a patented spring-loaded lever that lets you load and unload cable reels that are 6.5 inches or less in diameter without them ever touching an axle. Instead, they’re stored in a section that’s surrounded by retaining bars that hold the spools (up to 5) in a neat line but still allow them to spin freely when you need to dispense wire. No hoisting down an entire axle, removing and reconfiguring all the spools and then fighting to get it back in place – just move the spring-loaded retaining bar with one hand, add or remove a cable reel with the other, and you’re done.
One other extremely cool thing about the Spoolmate is the optional companion Spool-Aid™ spool repair system that goes with it. Designed to prevent you from having to pitch spools every time their end plates are damaged, the Spool-Aid kit comes with sturdy replacement discs that zip into place with a single screw to cover the damaged original disc and restore your spool to like-new condition. Awesome.
Filed under: Desk Cable Organizers, Power and Data Distribution
I think I’ve mentioned this before in another blog post, but Fridays get me thinking about movies, to the point that I usually have to quickly scour through the latest reviews to see what looks good. Well, this week, a fun little twist has been added to my Friday movie review routine: now I’m not just reading them, I’m writing them!
We’re putting a little more time and effort into our product demo videos these days, so I want to make sure that no one misses out. Today, we’re going to start with the first trio of videos produced, directed, professionally-lit and edited by the amazing Fernando of CableOrganizer.com Web Design fame, which also star our multi-talented New Products guru Tiffani, who, in my humble opinion, is giving Beyonce a run for her money with that hair and makeup. But back to the product prowess: Tiffani is the person to listen to, because she has an incredibly thorough knowledge of all of the products that appear on our site – so rest assured, the lady knows what she’s talking about.
On to the videos:
Powertap Grommet Desk Outlet: Tiffani demonstrates how the Powertap desk outlet installs into your worksurface and acts as a very convenient middleman between your desktop devices and wall outlet, thereby letting you experience the joy of plugging and unplugging without bending over, crawling under your desk, and possibly (inadvertently) mooning your coworkers. If you’ve ever wondered exactly how this type of product works, definitely check out the video – it’s much easier to understand than just reading a product description.
Under-Desk Wire Tray: This is a pretty simple and straightforward product that I wouldn’t have though needed an actual demonstration video, but now that I’ve seen it, I’m glad they made one. Tiffani shows a few tips and tricks for installing it correctly and customizing it to fit your individual desk size and cable management needs – total home run.
Cable Corral: If you’re the kind of person who wants to cable-manage the space under your desk without spending hours juggling cable ties, wire loom, cord clips and a label printer, you’ll appreciate the Cable Corral video. This product is the equivalent of throwing all of your loose clutter into the hall closet right before company arrives, except that the end result won’t leave you with regrets and even more clean-up later on. Tiffani demonstrates how to make the most of the Cable Corral to accommodate not just cables, but a power strip as well.
Rare Earth Solutions Magnetic Cable Clips: High-Grip Clips Without the Damaging Adhesives or Hardware
I’m the kind of person prefers not to assault visible surfaces with hole-making hardware or sticky adhesives no matter what I’m trying to accomplish, be that hanging a picture or wall-mounting things like bag dispensers. Keep your screws, nails and tacks, and hand me the 3M™ Command™ strips – I’ll use a dozen if I have to. Just don’t make me fill in a nail hole or patch peeled paint where a stick-on product ripped it off.
That’s why I was so intrigued when I came across these magnetic cable clips by Rare Earth Solutions™. Instead of sticking onto or bolting into a surface, neodymium magnets let the clips get a death grip on racks, enclosures, beams and other metal structures, so that you can route cables just about anywhere without having to make any permanent modifications. Aside from the fact that they require a metallic surface to stick to, these magnetic cable clips give you pretty much limitless options: they can be used in both temporary and permanent applications, positioned right-side-up, sideways, upside-down or anywhere in between.
Rare Earth Solutions™ cable clips come in either round or rectangular shapes in a range of sizes, each of which hold up to two cable bundles ranging between ¼” and ¾” in diameter. They’re perfect for garages, home theaters, automotive and aerospace work, stages, and pretty much anything else you can dream up – as long as there’s metal to anchor them to, they’ll work.