Holy swiveling cable ties.
When you’ve seen and used as many kinds of cable ties as I have, you can start to feel a little smug in your knowledge of zip tie-dom. Pathetic, but true. Whenever a purportedly “new” cable tie model rolls along, it somehow still seems all too familiar, in a “been there, done that” kind of way. Releasable? Check. Polymer-coated stainless? Yawn. UV-resistant? Are you actually showing me this?
Okay, maybe that least reaction was a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get where I’m going with this: there’s rarely anything truly “new” under the Sun. Well, “rarely” just happened.
HellermannTyton has come out with some extremely cool Swivel Clip cable ties. Up to now, we’ve had ties that can be nailed or screwed into drywall, ties with mounting brackets attached, and even ones with built-in flags that you can use to label cables. But never cable ties with swiveling clips. The other ones are good, but these are awesome.
If you’re wondering why on Earth someone would need clipping, swiveling cable ties, consider the fact that sometimes you just need to attach more cable to an existing wire harness, or maybe you want to run a hose or some wiring along a moving component. Swivel Clip cable ties make that easy because once you have your add-on cables bundled up within the tie, you just snap the clip onto another cable bundle, a support rod or narrow hose, and you’re in business.
What I really like is that the clip in question rotates a full 360 degress, so even after it’s snapped into place, you can keep turning/adjusting things until they’re aligned in the exact direction you need them to go in. No unsnapping the clip and trying again – just grab the whole bundle and turn. It’s almost too easy – but when is that ever a bad thing?
And I thought that Wire Nuts® were cool. Sure, those twist-on connectors have been the standard for a long time, and they’ll probably stay that way. But they just got some new competition, and I have to say, I like what I see. Not because I’m disloyal or a slave to the Newest Thing, but because, deep down, I sometimes – just sometimes – have a need for speed, and an affinity for laziness. Wire nuts, while a cinch to use, still require all of that twisting, which was no big deal until I laid eyes on HellermannTyton’s Helacon Easy Connectors. These things use a unique system that turns almost zero effort into amazing results – they’re so easy that it’s really not even fair.
That’s all thanks to the fact that they’re “push-in,” and not “twist-on” – Helacon connectors use a dual-spring system that splices wires as soon as they’re pushed into the connectors’ ports, or poles. No twisting wires together and then screwing on a connector… just strip the conductors, insert into the ports, and you have automatic spliceage. Nice.
In addition to the Effortless Factor, these things are extremely versatile, because they can be used anywhere in the world, in almost any household electrical applications. Use them with receptacles, light fixtures, switches, you name it – as long as you’re working with solid wire in the range of 12-22 AWG, you’re good to go. Helacon push-in wire connectors are also available with 2, 3, 4, 5 or 8 poles, so you can choose exactly what you need, instead of improvising your way through a job with just one product at hand. How easy is that?
It’s all fun and games until someone presses the big red button and everything goes dark. No, not the big red Staples “Easy” button that makes affordable office supplies magically appear. I’m talking about the big red button on the wall in many data centers, the one that’s usually inadequately labeled, but should actually read “Paralyze Data Center” or “Commit IT-Career Suicide By Accidentally Bumping This.” Yes, yes, the Emergency Power Off button, affectionately known as the EPO.
The whole point of having an EPO button is so that a data center’s power can be cut in one fell swoop if there’s a fire, electrocution, or other dire emergency. The only thing is, an EPO can wreak total havoc, and even cause you to lose your job, if you accidentally push it. When the power suddenly dies, you’re left with hours or even days of downtime and recovery, which can mean very bad things for both your business and your clients. As a matter of fact, I recently saw a hilarious blog post that showed a picture of an EPO that was cleverly labeled “Armageddon.” That pretty much sums it up. So why the heck don’t data center managers (with the exception of the “Armageddon” guy) do a better job of labeling these things?
Put away the Post-It notes, masking tape and markers: it’s time for a real label, one that’s worthy of a Bond villain’s control panel. One that’s authoritative enough to say “do not push this unless absolutely necessary” and mean it. What we need is a little HellermannTyton.
HellermannTyton has recently developed a really cool, extremely substantial foam label that can be printed with a thermal transfer label printer, but has a lot more impact that plain old tape-style labels. They can take large fonts, have room for additional graphics, and some of them are even cut to fit around buttons and toggle switches. These things are not joking around – they’re serious labels for serious controls. Try them out, because a data center is never the place to say “oopsie!”
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.
We all get grossed out every time we hear those crazy news stories about how someone was happily chowing down until they looked down and discovered a dead cockroach, rodent droppings or a sharp piece of something in whatever they were eating. As a matter of fact, I think I saw a headline about a purported dead mouse in a carton of milk just last week. Naaaaaaasty!!! Most of us have squeaked by without falling victim to food contamination, but every time you hear another gross-out story, it’s easy to think “How can stuff like this be happening, in this day and age of health codes, lawsuits, and complete paranoia?”
Easy. Everything that we consume is touched by humans and/or machinery, two “breeds” (so to speak) that are infamous for things like error and general malfunction. We screw up. The things we invent screw up. It’s going to happen. Luckily, groups like the FDA and WHO are cracking down more than ever on the conditions in food and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, right down to the kind of cable management used on data cabling and automated machinery.
Yep, even the cable ties. Code usually demands that metal cable ties be used in food and drug manufacturing, so that if they happen to break off of nearby machinery or overhead cables and fall into product, they can be quickly detected by scanners, and then removed. The only thing is that all-metal cable ties can cost a bundle, which can hurt when businesses are trying to save money.
That’s why it’s so nice that HellermannTyton has developed a metal-content cable tie that looks and feels like the regular plastic kind, but has all the detectablility of a metal tie. That’s thanks to tiny metal particles that are distributed throughout the main plastic material – cool, huh? A little thing like metallized plastic is enough to meet code and fit budgets, but is actually far easier to handle than metal, which can be on the sharp and rigid side. And in the event that one ever breaks and drops onto a conveyor belt or into a vat, it can be easily picked up by scanners and removed. Your chances of ever biting into one of these babies is practically nil.
Hmmmmm, I seem to be getting my appetite back…
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.