Filed under: Braided Sleeving, Cable Management, Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Cable Wraps
As tempting as it may be to just throw all your cables in a tangled heap in the corner, you know you’re going to regret it the second you have to actually locate a specific cable to remove or rearrange anything. There are a number of organizational options available for even the laziest of individuals when it comes to cables and wiring. Here are just three solutions that can be used for your home or office.
Simple Cable Management Solution Options For Home and Office
The first solution is the always popular cable ties. These are specially designed fasteners that loop around the cables with the end pulled through the head hole locking it in place. They are available in a number of different types made from different materials including nylon, Velcro, and metal. There are reusable and mountable options available as well. You could probably even use them for things that aren’t cables, if you want. We won’t judge you like that woman at the garage sale on The Simpsons. These are an excellent option for securing your cables and are available in a wide range of colors if you’re into being flashy.
A veritable rainbow of utility.
Next up, we have cable clips. Like the name suggests, these are small clips that clamp or twist around the cables secure your bundles as needed. They can attach cables to walls or other surfaces, and can securely hold the cables in place at all times. Like ties, they’re available in multiple colors and designs to suit many different types of cables, but unlike most ties, they can usually be easily opened without destroying them, allowing for easy repositioning if you need to move your cords around. They’re like hair clips, if your hair was thick and made of rubber tubes that housed copper wiring. Which maybe it is, who am I to judge?
Like this, but less creepy.
Finally, we have cable wraps. Much like cables themselves wrap around and protect the copper wiring within, these wraps protect bundles of cables, like those Russian dolls that fit inside each other. Except the wraps actually serve a functional purpose. They come in many different varieties, from the stiff raceway to Pet wrap braided sleeving. Raceway is nice because it’s mountable and can be painted to match its surroundings, but its stiffness limits the amount of cables you can actually fit inside. Braided sleeving, on the other hand, is flexible and can expand to fit more cables within, but it’s not quite as camouflaged as the chameleon-esque raceway.
Pictured: the same thing, basically.
If you thought that Teflon® was just for non-stick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics, think again. We’re used to using the slippery stuff around the house pretty much every day, but did you know that it can actually be spun into filaments and braided into a protective sleeving for cables and wire assemblies? I know – it blew my mind, too.
Teflon braided sleeving isn’t the stuff you’d use to snazz up A/V cables or organize computer wires – it is, in short, what the proverbial Big Dogs use to create a protective, friction-reducing shield around wiring in military vehicles, aircraft, and other high-intensity environments. Temps up to 550°F? Teflon’s the heat shield for the job. Abrasion? Don’t make me laugh (try scraping up something that repels pretty much everything). And chemicals, solvents and fuels? Teflon® sleeving was tested in the presence of 16 of the toughest common industrial substances, and it barely batted an eyelash.
With something so rugged, you’d think that it might be a handful to work with, but thanks to Teflon’s notoriously slick characteristics, it slides gently though your hands as you maneuver it along cable assembles, unlike some other more run-of-the-mill braids that can have a slight sandpaper effect after a while. It’s the classic “tough-guy-turns-out-to-be-a-softy” scenario – and if you ask me, that’s one situation you would want any mission-critical cable to be in.
Filed under: Braided Sleeving, Tools and Cases
Wraparound (or “split”) braided sleeving is one terrific way to tame and hide cables. If you’ve never used it, it lets you bundle and hide cords inside a sleek-looking woven wrap, but is much easier to use than traditional braided sleeving because it’s split down the side. That slit lets you slide cables in along its length, instead of slowly inching the braided sleeving over them like you have to with the expandable kind. To sum it up, it’s a lot like wire loom, but instead of being made out of hard plastic, wraparound sleeving soft, woven, and extra flexible.
But despite its softness and lack of sharp edges, split wraparound sleeving can, like wire loom, be quite a pain in the tokus to install. It’s no hard to do, per se, just time-consuming… especially when long lengths are involved. That’s why Bentley-Harris is making an ingenious little device known as the Woven Wraparound Installation Tool.
Let me just say that inserting cables into split wrap by hand versus using a gadget like this is like trying to clear 6 inches of snow off your driveway with a toy beach shovel instead of using a snow blower. You can do things the slow and hard way, or zip through the job (literally) with a wraparound installation tool. Your choice.
The wraparound sleeving tool does a couple of things at once. First, it keeps your cables gathered together for insertion, so that you don’t have to wrestle with them individually. Then, it “zips” them into the sleeving all at once. No inching your way along – just wrap the tool around your cables, insert the tool into the end of the sleeving, zoom it through, and you’re done. I’m serious – I’ve used tools like this on several occasions, and they’re great… you can’t go wrong. Paying around $5 for one of these is way more than worth it when you consider the time and frustration you’ll save.
Around the office, we’ve been talking about different types of cable management products for film sets. Thinking about all of the possibilities reminded me of a very cool product that I’ve been acquainted with for quite some time, but (for some reason that I can’t figure out) haven’t yet blogged about. So this afternoon, I’m introducing you to non-skid braided sleeving.
Remember the Banana Peel gag that used to be the standby in old movies? You know, a character goes strolling along the sidewalk, whistling happily, hands in pockets, and then his heel suddenly comes down on a slippery old banana peel, and he’s flat on his back before he knows what hit him. A classic. Well, it turns out that the Banana Peel Effect didn’t end with Charlie Chaplin or the Three Stooges – it’s still happening on film sets and sound stages, but instead of an actual banana peel, cables are now the culprit.
Film sets and broadcast studios are overrun with cables, many of which wind their way right across the floor in high-traffic areas. There are power cords, boom-mic cables, camera and monitor wiring – you get the idea. It’s not uncommon for wiring to be gathered together into bundles (or “cable snakes”) and covered in braided sleeving. Braided sleeving is, as a rule, a great product, but much of it is plastic-based, and that means it can easily slide around on smooth flooring. Enter a preoccupied sound engineer, camera person, or on-a-mission assistant, and someone’s bound to step in the wrong place and take the spill of their life.
That’s why slip-resistant braided sleeving is such a lifesaver for film crews. It protects critical cables from under-foot damage, but also gives the people on set much less reason to slip and fall. Non-skid braided sleeving works so well because while half of its filaments are standard PET (plastic), the rest are made of a high-friction polymer that actually grabs onto floor surfaces when stepped on, instead of skidding under the weight and momentum of the person trampling it. To make a long story very short, step on it, and it doesn’t move – and neither do you, for that matter (at least not in any unplanned way).
It’s sounds like a product worth getting to know better, right? If I were you, I’d definitely take it to the movies.
Braided sleeving is a great product for customizing, organizing and protecting cables and hoses, but if there are large connectors involved or you need cable breakouts along the way, it can have its limitations. Sure, there are side-slit, wrap-style braided sleevings that you can use, but these either use their molded-in, heat-treated contours to stay “closed,” or otherwise rely on hook-and-loop edging, which tends to add bulk and can only be sealed edge-to-edge, regardless of whether or not a snug fit has been achieved.
All that said, side-entry braided sleeving has recently become a lot more, well, usable, thanks to the invention of Grip Wrap. Grip Wrap braided sleeving may look like other wraparound sleevings out there, but has one ingenious little difference: do you remember that hook-and-loop edging we just talked about? It’s built into the edge of Grip Wrap, too, but this time, it’s only the hook part. That all-hook edging is actually able to bond right to the outer surface of the sleeving, at absolutely any point. No more being a slave to hook and loop strips that have to match up with each other in order to work – now, you just wrap your sleeving until it’s as tight as you want, and then press the hook edge against the rest of the covered cable bundle. That’s it.
Not only do you get a bulk-free custom fit, you can also break cables out anywhere along the way, or just make things tighter or looser as needed. I don’t know about you, but if I can get a bunch of things done with a single product instead of multiple versions of it, I’m going to take the single product. And this would be it.
There was a time when you had two choices, braided sleeving-wise: you could have metal, which had tough-guy good looks and shielded against EMI, but was less than ideal in the flexibility department (way too stiff). Or there was plastic, which was flexible and abrasion-resistant, but couldn’t do a thing to block interference. Both types are great in their own respects, but if you needed the characteristics of both, it was more or less a “pick your poison” scenario.
Enter HellermannTyton and their braided sleeving brainchild, otherwise known as Helagaine. It makes me wonder if the stuff was named by someone from NoCal, because with this stuff, you get hella gains over what you might with a less brilliant product. Okay, that was pretty bad, but what did you think of when you read that name? Thought so.
Anyway, here’s the deal: Helagaine braided sleeving combines the best attributes of both metal and plastic-based braids into one sweet sleeving that has the flexibility and almost glove-like fit of a plastic expandable braid, but the sleekly badass appearance and EMI-repellant powers of a stainless steel or copper sleeving. It’s great for radio equipment, heavy machinery and military vehicles whose cables need a little extra something in the way of protection, but can’t settle for a sloppy fit. Or, you could just use it to snazz up some hoses or wiring for your boat or custom car.
A couple of months ago, I was watching some sort of behind-the-scenes show that showed scenes from a movie (if I’m not mistaken, it was Night at the Museum) being filmed in front of a green screen, and it really amazed me. Not the concept of the green screen itself, but rather the fact that actors are able to pull off something totally believable when they’re interacting with nothing but thin air (shout out to Ben Stiller here: well played!). Same thing with a few Pirates of the Caribbean snippets I saw a while back - in my imagination, it would be pretty darn tough to effectively swagger and swashbuckle without genuine rolling seas and immortal skeletal pirates to spur one on (a tip of the feathered cap to you as well, Mr. Depp). How do they do it?
Raw talent, I guess, and practice – lots of it. But get this: I just found out that acting isn’t the only challenge when shooting a major motion picture in front of a green screen. It turns out that making all of those lighting, power and boom mic cables disappear into the background is something of an issue as well. What’s a movie stagehand to do? Would you believe that a little cable sleeving can solve the problem?
There’s a very cool product by the name of Studio Key sleeve on the market, and for all its simplicity, I think it’s downright brilliant. It’s pretty much just fabric tubing that fastens around cables, but here’s the interesting part: it’s reversible, with ”green-screen green” on one side, and “blue-screen blue” on the other. So if special-effects filmmaking is your game, Studio Key just might be your new best friend: it’s super easy to apply, incredibly durable (it actually protects wiring in addition to covering it), and has the ability to multitask between green and blue screens built right in. Give it a try – your editors and special effects crew will love you for it.
Filed under: Braided Sleeving, Heat Shrink Tubing
I know you’re not tuning into this blog for a weather report, but it’s 52°F in South Florida. Considering that it’s late December, that’s nothing to shake a stick at for most other people in the United States, but to all of us who have devolved into wusses from living in a warm climate, it’s cold. After seeing one of our coworkers wrapped up in a stylish shawl to ward off the chill, my office mates and I began wishing we had something similar. Somehow that led to Snuggie™ jokes. Talk about a quirky hybrid – 50% blanket, 50% robe, 100% “what the heck?”
Anyway – I am going somewhere with this, I promise. All of this stream of conciousness stuff that led me to think about unusual product hybrids ultimately brought to mind Shrinkflex Fabric Heat Shrink Tubing. Shrinkflex is a new type of cable protection product that recently came our way, and while it’s tempting to call it just “braided sleeving” or “heat shrink tubing,” you can’t, because it’s both! Sounds strangely cool, doesn’t it? It is.
Shrinkflex 2:1 (the “2:1″ describes its shrink ratio, and means that the product is able to shrink down to half of its original diameter) is actually woven just like braided sleeving, but incorporated into the blend of yarns is polyolfin, which is a cross-linked polymer that shrinks when exposed to heat. When you combine these features, you end up with a product that has the good looks and flexibility of braided sleeving, but the “like a glove” fit that you can only get from heat shrink tubing.
So why would one want to use Shrinkflex? It provides great protection for cables, wires and hoses found in harsh environments that dish out high heat, vibration, and abrasive conditions. It stands up to liquids and chemicals like oil, antifreeze, gasoline, Diesel, brake and hydraulic fluids, battery acid and water, and can be used at a continuous maximum temperarture of 257°F.
It’s Day 3 of our pre-Chirstmas countdown, and when I was getting into blog mode this morning, I went into momentary panic, thinking that I had already run out of of Christmassy items to talk about (like I mentioned in a previous post, I already covered most of those products months ago). But I was saved – by braided sleeving, no less. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What kind of loon would think that braided sleeving has anything to do with the holidays?” Well, I’ll tell you – or rather, show you. Just take a gander at the photo to the right, and you’ll understand my reasoning.
Do you see that stuff? It’s like a beautiful candy cane wrap for your cables. I know that there are a lot of cables out there that need protection no matter what season it is, but there’s no question that this stuff was made for the most wonderful time of the year. I’m not about to suggest this as a great gift idea, but if you’re the kind of person who loves to spruce things up outdoors with lights and other electrical decorations, this could be right up your alley.
Outdoor lights and motorized Santas can’t get by without extension cords, which have to withstand the wear and tear of weather, rough outdoor surfaces, and ever-threatening pedestrian traffic. All of these stresses can cause the extension cords’ outer insulation to wear down and eventually crack – something that you really don’t want to happen. An overlay of festive red, green and gold braided sleeving is just the ticket to prevent abrasion and prolong the life of your extension cords, and will add a really nice visual touch to your outdoor Christmas display as well.
Filed under: Braided Sleeving, Cable and Wire Storage, Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Cable Wraps, Cables and Wires, Electrical, Power and Data Distribution
No matter who you are, where you live, or how big or small your circle of family and friends is, chances are very good that you know someone whose life has been changed because of breast cancer. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one to it. Maybe you’ve watched someone close to you battle though it and emerge a survivor. Maybe you’re living with it yourself. But one thing’s for sure – once you have a brush with the disease, you never forget it.
Since yesterday, October 1st, you’ve probably begun seeing a lot pink ribbons and references to Breast Cancer online and in the media. That’s because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this year, 2009, CableOrganizer.com has decided to jump in and do something to support this admirable, and universal, cause.
And so, today, I’m not going to focus on one cool product, but 9 very worthwhile ones that are not only fun and useful, but whose purchase goes toward supporting breast cancer research, as well as meeting the needs of women who are fighting the disease. If you or someone you know is a fan of the color pink, please visit our Breast Cancer Pink Page, which is full of rosy-hued products that have been chosen to help raise funds in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From now through October 31, 2009, we’re donating $1 from each purchase of these products to The Donna Foundation, a Florida-based non-profit organization dedicated to furthering breast cancer research and providing assistance to breast cancer patients.
So if you’re already looking into accessorizing your iPod or organizing some cables around the house, please be sure to check out the items on our Pink Page first – by purchasing one of these products, you’ll not only be getting something you need, but will also be helping to prevent and cure breast cancer in the process.