Alright, so I’m technically violating my Strictly Product Review policy for the second week running, but there’s one more giveaway we have going that it would be just wrong not to tell you about: from now through July 31st, 2012 (that’s only 1 week away – yikes!), if you like us on Facebook, leave a comment and fill out a quick entry form (click here to do all three), you’ll be entered to win a free Home Theater Cable Management Kit that we’ve put together just for the occasion.
The main reason I’m getting the word out is, in fact, because the products in the Home Theater Cable Management Kit are pretty standout, and a few in particular are downright killer. The heavy-hitters may even be items that you’ve always loved the idea of, but could never bring yourself to shell out for. Or maybe you didn’t even know they existed. Anyway, now’s your chance to win everything you need for the kind of DIY home theater organization that will make your setup look professionally finished.
The kit includes my two favorites, a flat panel wall mount and an HDTV cord cover, as well as Velcro® wraps, cable clips, raceways and braided sleeving to fine-tune your cable management. But like I said, the flat panel mount and cord cover are my favorites. The screen mount is self-explanatory and it’s desirability is probably obvious, but let me tell you about the HDTV cord cover.
You know when you sometimes see a flat screen TV that’s been wall mounted, and it should look really cool, except that there are wires trailing down the wall below it, and they sort of wreck the whole effect? That’s what the flat screen cord channel is designed to tackle, without you having to actually run your cables in-wall. It installs right onto your wall to cover up and camouflage home theater cables, so all you really see is uninterrupted wall space – you can even paint it for a perfect, seamless match.
So what are you waiting for? This is your chance to get a flawlessly organized and finished home theater without spending a penny or agonizing over product choices. Enter now so you don’t miss out!
What is it about hook and loop cable ties that we’re all so crazy about? Standard-size hook and loop wraps have been one of our hottest sellers for years, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find one lurking on the laptop cord of almost anyone you know. Then we got the mini version, which, considering the fact that it’s scaled down for use with iPod earbuds and iPhone charger cords, is even cooler. No matter what the size or brand, they’re just great in general: you can reuse them hundreds of times, they don’t crush cables, and they’re known to come in more than a few cool colors.
But what happens when your love for the rippy stuff grows so much that you want to start using hook and loop wraps for even bigger jobs? Maybe you want to circumvent an entire cable tray, or keep a coiled-up garden hose bundled? Maybe you have a rolled-up drop cloth or camping tarp that you’d like to neatly store or transport in proper Yodel-like formation. Good luck getting that done with an average-sized hook and loop wrap. At very best, you could link a few ties together, but that would be for extreme situations requiring MacGyver-like improvisation.
If I were you, I’d just buy some extra-long hook and loop cable ties to begin with.
As their name so strongly implies, Economical Long Hook and Loop Ties are cost-effective, longer than usual (to the tune of 12″-24″), and made of the beloved Velcro-like hook and loop material. Given their size and capabilities, they can really be classified more as bundling straps than garden-variety cable ties – as a matter of fact, they can hold up to 18 lbs during use. Not too shabby. In addition to the cable, hose and tarp-related uses I mentioned above, these would also be perfect for managing sports equipment, keeping beach umbrellas furled (or making carrying handles for them), and lashing things together in general.
Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I love Velcro™. Ever since I was a shoelace-challenged 4 year old who found out that pressing and ripping was a lot less stressful than lacing and tying, I’ve been hooked. And you’ve gotta love that melodious tearing sound. But I just found out that Velcro goes beyond sneaker fasteners, double-sided tape and cable wraps – these days, it also comes in dots.
Yes, dots. Or spots, little circles, round blobs… whatever you want to call them, these things are cool. They’re basically little rounds of double-sided Velcro™ tape. They come in pairs: one dot of hook (the sharp stuff) to one dot of loop (the softer, fuzzy side). Stick one to a surface (like a wall) and the other to an object that you want to stick onto said surface, then just line up the dots, press, and let go – it’s stuck! Simple, I know, but definitely something to get a kick out of.
Velcro Dots are great for kids’ rooms, dorms, classrooms, even offices – anywhere that you might want to hang things on the walls, but have the flexibility to change them when you feel like it. What’s really great is that they don’t leave holes like nails and tacks do, so there won’t be any spackling for you down the road. They’re also not likely to run out anytime soon – with 200 to a pack, you can connect the dots like it’s going out of style.
When it comes to cable management, cable ties (aka “zip ties”) are one of the simplest solutions out there for bundling up cords and wires. They’re cheap, they’re easy to use, and they work fast. There’s just one problem: they’re only good for a single use. As soon as you need to cut them off to reconfigure your cables, they’re useless – you have to start over from scratch. This is all thanks to the locking-head that most standard cable ties have; while it’s great for keeping things in place, it also makes it impossible to remove or adjust a cable tie once the tie has been applied. There’s no turning back.
And talk about the waste. In addition to the fact that you have to throw cable ties away after just a single use, there’s also the issue of all those good-for-nothing clippings that come from trimming the “tails” of cable ties flush after installation. That’s a lot of wasted plastic, and don’t forget that you paid for it. But that’s not all: cable ties are also subject to over-tightening, which can damage cable insulation and compress conductors so much that data signals are interrupted or completely cut off.
Wow! Is it me, or did I just go on (and on) about the drawbacks of zip ties? Don’t get me wrong, they’re actually a great product, it’s just that those are a few points that you have to consider if you’re going to be using them on a large scale or in conjunction with especially sensitive cables. This all leads up to me introducing you to Mille-Ties, a revolutionary new breed of cable ties that are kinder, gentler, and yes, reusable.
Instead of being composed of a solid plastic strap with a molded-on locking head, the Mille-Tie is built like a chain, made up of many individual links or cells. It stretches, flexes, and bends to conform to cable bundles without putting stress on them, and is virtually impossible to overtighten. Mille-Ties ratchet snugly around cable bundles, but their design causes them to automatically stop tightening as soon as they’ve reached their tensioning limit, so you don’t have to worry about damaged or malfunctioning cables.
MIlle-Ties also greatly reduce waste because after you complete a tie and trim the tail off, you can actually use the excess to make another tie. The Mille-Tie is designed so that all of the larger cells (that’s every other cell) act as locking heads, so as long as the cut-off tail is long enough to make it around your cable bundle, you can use it just as you would a full-sized Mille-Tie. Pretty cool, huh?
And finally, I’ll go into that whole removable/resuable thing I mentioned earlier. While they won’t let go until you purposely remove them, Mille-Ties don’t lock permanently, so it’s incredibly easy to reuse them. Once you have a Mille-Tie tightened around your cable bundle, all you have to do is thread the end back through the same cell, leaving just a tiny loop behind. This leaves you with a little release-tab to pull on to release the cables while leaving you with an intact cable tie that’s ready to use again.
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Tools and Cases
If you’ve ever hand-bundled wires with cable ties, you’ve probably found that it doesn’t take long for your fingers to start feeling unmistakably raw. Between the force needed to grip such small objects and the friction that the zip ties create against your hands as you tighten them, large-scale cable tie installations can easily lead to blisters. And that’s just with standard, flexible nylon cable ties – ever tried to hand-install the heavy duty stainless steel kind? Yikes!
Luckily, HellermannTyton makes a stainless steel cable tie tensioning tool that’s become the saving grace of industrial installation technicians around the world. Also commonly known as a “cable tie gun” because of its unmistakably pistol-like shape and trigger-driven operation, this tool allows you to ratchet cable ties made of 304 and 316 stainless steel to the perfect tension without causing yourself any unnecessary discomfort.
Well, we’ve covered the physical pitfalls of hand-tensioning stainless steel cable ties, but did you know that doing things by hand can also have consequences for your cables as well? It’s very easy to overtighten cable ties, and when that happens, it can not only lead to damaged cable insulation, but compressed conductors as well. And what’s wrong with a few compressed conductors? They don’t transmit data as well, and can sometimes fail altogether. The whole reason for having cables in the first place is to transmit data from Point A to Point B. Don’t let something as simple as overtensioned cable ties cripple your network. Cable tie tensioning tools only let you tighten the ties up to a certain point, so that they’re securely holding cable bundles together, but not biting into them. They take the guesswork out of installation, while leaving you with neatly (and safely) organized cables every time.
So how do cable tie installation tools work? Simple. You get things started by looping the cable tie around a bundle of cords, and then insert the tie’s tip through its head – but stop there. Next, grab the installation tool, feed the tip into the end of the gun, and pull the tool’s trigger until the cable tie is perfectly tightened. And did I mention that you won’t need a separate tool to trim off the cable tie’s end? This tool even cuts tensioned cable ties to size.
When you need to protect wiring and hoses from high temps and potential fire, leave the job to overlays like this Flame Retardant PET Wrap. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is a material that’s pretty commonly used in braided sleeving, and with good reason: it’s strong, and has excellent resistance to cuts and abrasion. But in this case, it’s taken a step further with the addition of an organic flame inhibitor, which helps to ward off fire even when temperatures soar and nearby components ignite.
Unlike many other braided sleevings that are tubular and must be worked gradually over cables and components, this sleeving is wrap-style, which means that it’s slit along its length for super fast and easy installation. This is a really great feature when the wiring or hoses you need to protect are already in place and can’t be removed or disassembled for sleeving installation – just pull open the sleeving and slip it around from the side. Once it’s on, Flame Retardant PET wrap stays securely in place thanks to the hook-and-loop (“Velcro”) edging along the slit – just overlap the sides, press, and everything will stay in place.
Flame retardant PET sleeving is terrific for use in hot engine bays, as well on theater and nightclub lighting wires, which, due to their close proximity to high temperatures, are often put at risk for fire. Should they ever ignite, the flame retardant wrap can help inhibit the spread of flame to other nearby components.
One of the first products I got to play with in my early days at CableOrganizer is still one of my favorites: the Velcro® ONE-WRAP® wire wrap. Yes, you heard right, a Velcro® cable tie. I’ve been a big Velcro® fan for most of my life, starting with the hook-and-loop fastened sneakers in my pre-shoelace-tying days, and proceeding all the way up through my college years, when double-sided Velcro® tape stood in for nails when I wanted to hang things on my dorm room wall.
Fast forward to 2006, when I found out that Velcro® is also terrific for bundling cables into neat coils. These little belt-shaped wraps loop around extension cords, computer cables, ropes, and really anything else that you can coil up and bundle. They adhere to themselves, so they’re incredible easy to use, and you can reuse them almost infinitely — it seems that no matter how many time you fasten and unfasten them, they never wear out.
Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to start converting my friends and family to Velcro-ism… so far, my Dad carries them along anytime he needs to take computer equipment on the road, my rock star Bro uses them to manage the cables on his recording equipment, and my friend the aesthetician finds that they keep the cords hanging off a laser machine perfectly tidy.
So, what will you use them for?