The Fox: Tough Single-Channel Cable Protection Without the Flip-Top Lids

September 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cord Covers 

It’s not sly or sexy, so I’m not sure why they call it the Fox™, but you have to admit – this cord cover has a simple, straightforward design that just has a certain appeal. What makes the Fox different from other medium to heavy duty cable protectors? As I was reminded as I traipsed over an endless sea of cord covers at a local Fall festival a few days ago, the first obvious difference is that they don’t have the standard hinged, flip-open tops of most other rugged cable protectors on the market. And secondly, they don’t have the “easy-to-kick-out-of-place-if-it’s-not-actively-anchored-down” dropover design that’s characteristic of many medium capacity cord covers. It like a perfect best-of-both-worlds hybrid of the two. Let me tell you what I mean.

The Fox cable protector has a heavy duty polyurethane body that encloses cables all around and sits firmly on the ground, just like a high-capacity cord cover. But on the other hand, its interior is made up of a single, unsegmented channel, and it’s incredible simple to load, just like most medium-capacity cord covers. Mix those seemingly opposing attributes together, and you get a cable cover that can withstand just over 10 tons (per axle) of vehicle run-over weight and some pretty heavy pedestrian traffic, but is as easy to use as running your hoses and cables through the narrow, flexible open channel along the top.

Flexible, open channel? Of course – how else did you think you were going to get your cables in if there are no hinged lids? The Fox’s cable entry point is a narrow lengthwise channel with flexible sides that let you easily push in or pull out cabtles without the need to open and close covers – it’s really pretty cool, and a perfect solution if you don’t need multiple channels to keep several different cables separate along their path.

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Tele-Power Poles Accessories: Faceplates and Cable Management for Completely Custom Power and Data

Wiremold Legrand® Tele-Power® Poles have long been a must-have in wide open office spaces where not every desk has the convenience of a wall and the outlets you’d usually find in one. They’re basically designed to let you drop electrical wiring and data cables down from the ceiling anywhere within a room, so that you can have access to power and data connections no matter how far from a wall your workspace is located. Smart, right? They’re a fantastic product.

And now, to make a great thing even better, there are Tele-Power® Pole accessories that make an already custom product even more tailored to fit exactly what you need. This collection of faceplates, grommets, cable managers and trim plates makes it easy to add whatever you need, wherever you need it, while still looking completely polished and professional.

Need an extra pair of power outlets? No problem. Want to add A/V connections alongside your Ethernet ports? Just choose which jacks you need, and pop them into a customizable A/V faceplate. Want to protect bend radius where cables emerge from the ceiling and run down into a Tele-Power Pole? The Data and A/V Add-On Cover is the perfect fit. And those are just a few of your options…

Just like the the Tele-Power Poles they’re accessorizing, all of these parts are designed to be industrial-strength for constant use, and are made of either heavy duty plastic or stainless steel. And just in case you can’t take your utilitarian workhorses without a splash of decor on the side, they’re even paintable to match any nearby walls and fixtures.

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Climatronix Stretch Connect: More Fun (and Simpler to Use) Than Your Average Lacing Bar

What do you get when you combine effective and efficient rack cable management with a design that vaguely reminds you of a toy? A really fun way to manage patch cords!

I guess I should start out by saying that rack cable management, while a very necessary and worthwhile thing, has never really excited me. It’s all business – no bells, whistles or sparkles, because why would you need them? Rack cable managers are usually hidden in the dark recesses of server enclosures, so they’re strictly utilitarian. Yawn.

Then I got a look at the Climatronix Stretch Connect™ System, and the fun-loving part of me felt a glimmer of hope. While the Stretch Connect is based on the standard black powder-coated cable management bar design, its top and bottom edges have a very interesting cut-out pattern that not only adds a little visual flair, but is also the key to Stretch Connect’s method of functionality.

Method of functionality? That would be how the Stretch Connect actually controls cables, which, like any other cable bar, is to have patch cords routed and fastened along it. But unlike other cable bars, which tend to make heavy use of cable ties and hook-and-loop wraps that fully loop either around or through both the bars and the cables lashed to them, Stretch Connect employs reusable stretchy connectors, which simply, well, stretch across the front of the bar to hold patch cords in place.

These reusable stretchy connectors have wide grips at the ends, which not only give you a good handhold, but also fit snugly into the cutout edging I mentioned earlier. To fasten patch cords against the Stretch Connect, you just hold the cords in place, slide one end grip behind the cutouts, stretch the strap across the cables, and slip the other connector end behind the opposite cutouts. Fast, simple, and a lot more fun to look at (and use) than most other lacing bars out there.

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Grommets: Perfect Cable Management for Any Decor or Environment

I don’t know how familiar you are with grommets, so I thought I’d take some time today to highlight what is actually a very cool and useful (although oddly-named) category of products.

At some point or another, you’ve probably (at the very least) encountered grommets at work, whether they were built into a desktop or conference table, or installed in a countertop near a POS system. Most often, you’ll see them as black plastic rings that are fitted into the cutouts that allow cables to run through work surfaces – the whole idea being that the grommets will buffer the cutouts’ sharp edges so that cables aren’t accidentally scratched up or cut.

But lest you get the wrong idea, let me be quick to add that grommets aren’t limited to the standard-issue black plastic designs, or even to workplaces. You can find them in schools, theaters, entertainment complexes (think all those arcade games), and more than ever, in homes. And speaking of homes, the grommets just keep getting better to keep up with all of those HGTV-worthy upgrades we’re always after, like granite countertops, home theater setups, and modern furniture. There are grommets available in many different designer metal finishes, wood, and even a rainbow of plastics, so no matter what type of surface you need to run cables through, you can rest assured that even utilitarian grommets won’t drag down your decor.

In addition to different styles, materials and finishes, some grommets also multitask – that is to say, they do even more than just organize and protect cables. Some have built-in USB hubs, some have power outlets and data ports – I’ve even seen grommets that double as desk organizers and have compartments to hold pens and other small items. You never know what you might find.

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Raceway Crown: Giving Low-Voltage Wiring the Royal Treatment

June 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Raceway, Duct and Conduit 

If there’s one type of product that I never get tired of, it’s cable raceway that pretends to be molding. Crown molding, baseboard, chair rail, you name it… if it hides cables while looking like an architectural trim, I’m in love. I’ve done numerous blog posts on different raceway/molding products we’ve added over the years, but today may very well be my final such post.

I’ve met what, to my knowledge, is the end-all of home theater raceways: Raceway Crown™. This isn’t an “it looks really close to crown molding” kind of thing… it is crown molding, and of the best sort: the kind you can stuff low-voltage cables behind, so you never have to see them again. Now, I was lucky enough to buy a house where the crown molding was already installed, and happily, I’m not plagued by visible cables at the moment, but were I crown molding-less and eager to hide some wiring, I’d be all over this stuff like the proverbial white on rice. I’m serious.

Raceway Crown consists of two main components that work in harmony to get things done. First are the brackets, which are installed onto walls by just zipping in a few screws with a power drill – easy. Once the brackets are installed, you thread cable ties through them, and cinch your cable bundles into place. Then comes the actual molding, which snaps onto the brackets to cover up the wires. The icing on the cake comes in the form of the splice covers, pre-formed outside corners and copes, which cover up the seams and keep you from having to make ultra-precise miter cuts (miter cuts being the main thing that deters a lot people from installing crown molding to begin with).

The crown molding raceway is made of white PVC, so you can leave it alone if you want (it will have more or less the same look as wood molding painted with white trim gloss paint), or lightly sand and custom paint it yourself, to match any more creative decor whims. Either way, you’re gonna love this stuff.

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CCT Multi-Component Access Control Cable: More Security with Fewer Cables to Run

While sometimes things come up that are just plain unavoidable (or unforeseeable, for that matter), I’m a huge fan of putting a little extra thought into things now in the interest of making life easier later. Sometimes this means that I find myself sitting between a pile of yet-to-be installed organizers and heaps of stuff that I’m eventually going to have to stow away in them (with the intent of making it easier to find/store things in the future), and sometimes it means taking the time to write out lists so that I can make the most out of one shopping trip/errand run and not have to kick myself later. We all have our tricks, but now there’s a much more interesting way to future-proof: opting for an all-in-one cable.

Multi-Component Access Cable from CCT® combines all the wiring needed for 4 much-used security components inside a single cable jacket. While this is probably far more than you need on the home security front, it’s perfect for businesses and other organizations that are adding security measures to their facilities, whether all at once in a complete system, or little by little, as needed or afforded in their budgets. This four-in-one cable includes wiring for a power lock, card reader, door contact, and rex/spare component, and gives you ther benefit of time, and fewer cable pulls, if it’s better for you to add access control components one at a time.

If you were to cut into a piece of CCT Multi-Component Access Control Cable, you’d find four separately-jacketed inner cables, color-coded for easy identification. The cables are also available in your choice of plenum and riser-rated styles, so no matter where you need to run cable, you’re completely covered for indoor use.

So we’ve got the future-proof cable taken care of… now what was it that I need at the store again?

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Weekly Video Rewind: Cable-Catching Brush Grommets and Cord Storage Pails

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.

BTX Field-Terminable HDMI 1.3 Cable: Custom A/V With No Waste

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.

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Weekly Video Rewind: Outlets, Wire Trays and Cable Managers for Your Desk

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.

The Scoop Slotted Cable Entry Plate: In-Wall A/V Cables Without the Expense of Pro Installers

April 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Electrical 

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.

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