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.
Ever notice how beat up extension cords seem to get? I’m not talking about the delicate, super-flexible little ones that you use to stretch lamp cords or plug in indoor Christmas lights, that never come into contact with anything tougher than a dust bunny. I’m talking about the ones that are skulking in your garage, workshop or basement – the heavy-duty ones that are good for power tools and always look like they’ve been run over by the lawnmower, chewed by the dog, and recently dragged through paint and sawdust – right before someone took a hammer to the plug.
How does anyone in their right mind feel safe using an electrical component in such sorry shape? And how, again, does someone in their right mind let a highly useful yet potentially damgerous piece of equipment get into that state of disrepair? I’m not really sure on either count, but there’s one thing I do know: most of us can’t be trusted, and our extension cords should be better protected from, well… us.
Luckily, General Cable got a clue about the sad plight of working extension cords, and came up with the Powr-Reel™, a retractable 3-outlet extension cord that’s packed safely away inside a sturdy metal casing. When you’re ready to use it, just pull out the length you need (it will automatically lock into place), do what you’ve got to do, and when you’re done, retract it back into the enclosed reel with nothing more than a tug.
This is a great product on multiple levels: not only is the electrical cord saved from constant repeat beatings by its case, but you’re also spared the clutter of cable slack thanks to the lockable length. And did I mention that it makes transport just a little easier? Instead of slinging a loosely-coiled/semi-tangled cord into your trunk or truck bed, just grab the Powr-Reel’s handy case and stow it wherever you need it, without worry of damage or knots.
Many mornings find me piling concealer (aka “cosmetic spackle”) under my eyes to cover up the dark circles and make them blend in with the rest of my deathly pale complexion, because otherwise the contrast would just look stupid. But this doesn’t apply only to girls and their makeup… no self-respecting dude would, say, get dressed head to toe in paintball camo and then put on a hot pink belt – waaaaaaay to obvious. Likewise, you probably wouldn’t want to mar the surface of a custom wood desk with a black plastic grommet – right?
Not that there’s anything wrong with a grommet that doesn’t match your desk exactly – it’s just that there are some situations in which you wouldn’t want any visual distractions from your wooden furniture, not even if the distracting elements happened to be providing some much-needed cable management. Luckily, for cases like these, there are slotted wood desk grommets.
Designed buffer the edges of cable cutouts without visibly standing out from the rest of your desk, wood countertop or table, these grommets are available in either oak or maple, and come unfinished so that you can use them in their natural state, or custom-stain them for a perfect match. And we’re not talking laminated particleboard or faux-wood plastic… these are natural hardwood, in your choice of grains.
Wood furniture grommets pop into cable cutouts just like any other type of grommet, and provide up to ⅞” of cable pass-through space. They’re perfect for desks, entertainment centers, cabinets, and even butcher-block countertops. Just think of them as stealth grommets for your finer furniture.
When you think of things associated with the word “scoop,” they tend to be classified as “the good stuff”… as in useful information, ice cream, and Woody Allen movies starring Hugh Jackman (don’t worry, boys, Scarlett Johansson’s in it, too). And it’s the same with cable management, hence Arlington Industries® dubbing their super awesome (and more importantly, easy to use) cable plate the Scoop™.
We’ve talked about the Scoop cable entry plate before, but there’s a new version of it that I can’t help showing off: the Scoop with Slotted Cover. While the original scoop has a (you guessed it) scoop-shaped design that helps to neatly transition home theater cables into and out of walls, the new Scoop with a slotted cover makes for an even neater finish, thanks to flexible wedge-shaped flaps that surround penetrating cables to hold them in place and fill in extra gaps around the edges.
In case you’re not familiar with them, cable entry plates like the Scoop are the perfect way to run in-wall low voltage cable without having to hire a professional or go through the hassle of terminating A/V faceplates yourself. That means you can enjoy a great-looking home theater setup without the distraction or clutter of exposed cable by doing nothing more than cutting a couple of strategic holes in your drywall (one where the cables need to start, and another where they need to end), fish your cables through the wall from Point A to Point B, and pop in a couple of entry/exit plates.
Instead of the cables being terminated to faceplates with the appropriate A/V connectors, they just come back through the wall and connect directly to your devices, so it’s essentially the same as running any other home theater cables from one spot to another, except that you happen to be hiding them behind your wall along the way.
A professional-looking finish for cheap – you’ve gotta love it.
Early this morning, as I do on most Fridays, I took a quick peek at the reviews for today’s movie releases while perusing the headlines online. Much to my surprise, a critic whose opinion I trust said that although she was more or less dragged to see (out of a sense of duty to her profession) the Farrelly Brothers’ take on The Three Stooges, it was, in fact, non-stop fun. So it looks like this weekend I’ll be opening my mind (and wallet) to some eye-poking, nyuk-nyuks and other assorted buffoonery even though I’ve hardly been able to make it through a single commercial for this flick. Looks like things are about to take a turn for the wacky.
In that spirit, let me introduce you to a computer accessory that’s equally fun and wacky, but in a strangely stylish way. Meet the High-Speed USB Flex Hub from Manhattan.
If someone told you “hey, I just got a USB hub that’s bendy and kind of ring-shaped and red, green, orange and yellow,” you’d probably cringe inwardly (I know I would). I love bright colors and all, but generally speaking, I prefer them separately – not in Crayola-box mish-moshes. But somehow, this totally works – it’s fun and whimsical and super sleek, yet at the same time, it’s all business… someone has to transfer all that data, after all.
So if you’re running short on USB ports on your computer but want a way to lighten up the mood at your workstation, this is definitely it. It looks great, moves data super fast, and best of all, it won’t even try to poke you in the eye. Nyuk nyuk.