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Short Guide to Keeping Cables Tidy

nac

Established Member
After trying a couple of different methods to bring some sort of order to my own rats nest of cables I have put together some ideas that might help answer a few questions regarding keeping cables tidy.

When bundling your cables together or forming a cable loom it is not recommended to have power cables and data cables together, so it is possibly best to have one loom of power cables and another for component cables.

A bit of forward planning never goes amiss, I split my cables in power, component and speaker so when I upgrade something I don’t have to break everything down and reinstall. Also it is a very good idea to mark your cables once they are behind walls or formed into a cable loom, as you may not know which cable is which unless every plug is different!!!

You can mark your cables, you can simply use tape and write on that but use a permanent marker pen, using a normal ballpoint you will find that the ink fades so when you go back to change things you may just have the tape.


markers-tape2.jpg

Or you could use printed cable markers like the image below you can have this type of marker printed with any details that you need, then you would cable tie these onto each end of your cable. If you are running a long cable run around your home or office it’s well worth placing more cable markers along the run of the cable so you know which is which at any point.


markers-printed1.jpg

The neatest way is to put all the cables behind the plasterboard walls if you have them. Then just wire to sockets but we all might not be able to do that. If you have solid walls you could channel them then bury your cables, this is a lot of work and can get a little messy. Lastly, you are left with making the bundle of cables into a tidy loom that can be put together with one of the following methods.

Cable Ties simply hold your cables together in the loom; cable ties come in various colours. Care should be taken not to over tighten and damage any cables.


cabletie1.jpg

Advantages - If the cables are already connected no need to disconnect.
Disadvantages - If you want to remove a cable you will need to cut off the cable ties and start again.

Velcro Cable Ties as above these simply hold your cable in a loom but because this type of tie is made of hook and loop material (Velcro) you can add and remove your cables by pulling them apart and then just pushing them back together. Many companies use these on their computer cable runs, as they are strong yet soft so they cannot damage data cables. Again as with the standard cable ties these are supplied in various colours.



Advantages - If the cables are already connected there is no need to disconnect. You can add or remove cables without having to cut them off and start again.

OK, the above will keep all your cables together in a loom but you could still see the cables and the cable ties depending on where all your components are situated so here are a few more ideas to keep all the cables together and make the job as neat and tidy as possible.

Braided Sleeving, this is a expandable nylon sleeve which when pulled back on it’s self widens in diameter allowing you to feed cables through, once all your cables have been pulled through you stretch the braided sleeving along the cables which reduces the diameter of the sleeving, which then forms a loom of cables. You fasten each end with a cable tie or a velcro tie. When the braid is cut to length the ends will fray so once stretched to length a small amount of heat needs to be applied to each end to melt the strands of the braid together to stop the fraying, this can be done quite simply with a cigarette lighter.


braid1.jpg

braid2.jpg

Advantages - You don’t have a bundle of cables that can get tangled and look messy. If your cables are already connected you may be able to only disconnect one end to feed the braided sleeving over. You can add and remove cables easily.
Disadvantages - If you want to remove a cable you will need to cut off the cable ties and start again. If you are using scart leads the plugs will be a bit to large for some braid diameters. If you want to bring cables out part way along the length of the loom you have 2 options, small cables can be forced through the braid but larger cables (especially those with large connectors - i.e. scart) would require forward planning and a break in the sleeving.

Spiral Band, some people call this cable wrap. Spiral band is a coil of plastic/nylon tube that is cut in such a way that it is a spiral that runs the length of the coil. This can then be wrapped around the cables before or after they have been connected. Because of its design, cables can come out of the loom at any point and it does not matter what size the connection plug is.


spiral1.jpg


spiral3.jpg

Advantages - Easy to install. Cables can be connected first. Reusable.
Disadvantages - If you want to add or remove cables the spiral band will have to be unwrapped and then re-wrapped around the new bundle.

PVC Trunking, you can run the trunking around the walls of your home then simply put the cables in the trunking and clip the lid on. You can route the cables to the required location. PVC trunking comes in many sizes, styles and colours from mini trunking to dado/skirting trunk with split compartments. Designs can be square, rectangle or rounded and colours from white to wood effect.



If you have more ideas that can help others why not add them!!!
 

Mulvaney

Established Member
Just bought 100 velcro ties for a tenner including p&p (made an offer of £4.25 each for 2 lots)

50 velcro hook loop cable ties tidy cables tv computer on eBay, also, Cable Clips Tidies, Cables Connectors, Computing (end time 10-Mar-09 06:02:52 GMT)

Should be a good / reusable way of bunching cables together.

I've also ordered 10 packs of 100 marker cable ties for £19.21 including p&p (p&p was over a fiver unfortunately).

Marker Ties for Marking Cables

I'll be able to label both ends of all my cables (including the ones that I'm not using / power bricks etc)
 

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