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Semi-OT: how to coil cables


RudyS

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All this time I've been a coiled cable tyrant and now I must admit that I've still been doing it wrong. :blush: It's looks like this technique will take some practice. I often coil the left and right cables together...they rarely tangle much...that is probably ill-advised as well? :idk

 

Thanks for posting that vid. :thu:

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This method is otherwise known as "over-under" and there are other methods that yield the same result. I guess it's one of those things that's easier to do once you know it than to explain it, because almost every explanation I've seen is a bit convoluted, or sounds that way. In the above video, for the first method he talks about putting your hand against your chest with your thumb facing down, that's pretty ridiculous. I've seen other videos that talk about how to hold the end of the cable very specifically, telling you what fingers to use.

 

All my cables including the extension cord I use for yard tools get the over-under treatment now, and it works great. I rarely get any twists nor snags when I use them.

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I still use the good ol' roadie knot (double it over and over until it's the right length, then tie it all in an overhand knot.) It's quick, effective, and easier to teach others to do. I also do stereo pairs together, when they're 12' or less. That saves time more often than not.

 

Proper coiling as shown above is better in that you can fit more cables into the same space, it's easier on the cables, and you don't get warped cables. But it takes longer, requires a cable tie, and isn't suitable for lots of smaller cables like power cables etc.

 

For long power cables, I use the sailor's method. I just coil in long loops, and let the bottom of each loop naturally twist a half turn to make a sort of figure-8. (If it doesn't twist, no worries. It will when it needs to.) When done, I take the last loop or so and run it around the top and tuck it through, and hang it all on the end of that loop. I'll have to take a pic.

 

I have long power cables 30 years old and older that have been doing just fine using this method. I always start holding the plug (male) end; on the next use I carefully unwrap one loop to plug it in and lay the whole coil on the ground, and it easily unwraps itself when pulled.

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I use a variation of technique #1 for over-under cables. I like over-under because I can grab the cable and throw it, and it lands untangled.

 

To jeff's point about the velcro tie, I use a single granny knot with the end of the cable, where the velcro tie would normally be. This is enough to keep the cable from uncoiling, but is not tight enough to damage the cable. The minimum bend radius winds up being over an inch for 25' mic cables.

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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I use over/under as well, but not using any techniques in the video. I just roll the cable with my fingers to twist it into the loop in alternating directions. It's really quick and doesn't require all the pulling and motion of his method, but the result is the same.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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How do you get 20 or 30 of those into one suitcase?

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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I still use the good ol' roadie knot (double it over and over until it's the right length, then tie it all in an overhand knot.) It's quick, effective, and easier to teach others to do. I also do stereo pairs together, when they're 12' or less. That saves time more often than not.

 

1+. Easy and it works.

 

Busch.

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One spool holds 20 cables.... that's not bad. The majority of mine are 25' long, I guess you could back the oddball cables separately. *hmm*

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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One spool holds 20 cables.... that's not bad. The majority of mine are 25' long, I guess you could pack the oddball cables separately. *hmm*

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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What I didn't see mentioned was after you master one of these techniques and can do it really really fast, what it feels like to smash a metal XLR connector into your nuts when it's going about mach 1.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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One spool holds 20 cables.... that's not bad. The majority of mine are 25' long, I guess you could back the oddball cables separately. *hmm*

 

All my mic cables are 25ft long and 20 of those cables coiled onto one spool is heavy enough. Once I showed the band how to use it, they loved it. Quick setup, just pull off the cables you need. Quick packup, just wind them up.

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One spool holds at least 20 cables.

This may be a dumb question but, how do you do it? Do you start different runs at different points on the hub? Do you plug the end one one cable into the start of the next?

 

I think it might be nice to have a few of these for different size cables... i.e. one for you 10' mic cables, one for your 25', and one for your 50'.

 

How heavy are the hubs themselves, with no cables on them?

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I'd clip them together in a train. If you need multiple sizes, then multiple reels would be the best solution. It is a nice idea, but it would take more room in the gear case. For serious road shows it's hard to imagine anything better. For the type of stuff I do, it's overkill ... maybe.

 

The biggest disadvantage is that you can't have multiple people coiling mic cables (of a given size) at the same time.

 

With different sizes, I'd put color markings on the different sizes and same color on the reels, to make it really easy to get it right.

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One spool holds at least 20 cables.

This may be a dumb question but, how do you do it? ... Do you plug the end one one cable into the start of the next?

 

That's the technique. And XLR plugs lock when they mate.

 

How heavy are the hubs themselves, with no cables on them?

 

Mine is metal and it's not heavy. With 350 feet of cable on the spool it's still reasonable. Beyond that it does get heavy.

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Good info here. I've been a stage manager and sound tech for over 30 years and have a couple of points to add:

 

- "Over-under" vs. "twist" - You'll find passionate arguments on both sides. Learn to do both. Either is better than just wrapping it around your forearm!

 

- When I'm not the sound tech I always ask them what they prefer and instruct my crew to do the same.

 

- When in doubt use "over-under".

 

- One advantage of over-under is that it allows you to coil a cable from the middle when you don't have access to the one or either end. This is common after a soundcheck when you've tested everything and want to leave it all connected but need to dress the stage and make things tidy.

 

- A cable reel is a good idea for personal use but would only slow down a stage crew. During changeovers it's common to grab various numbers and lengths of cable and having to reel them off would drive a crew nuts!

 

What I didn't see mentioned was after you master one of these techniques and can do it really really fast, what it feels like to smash a metal XLR connector into your nuts when it's going about mach 1.

 

Wastrel - why are you holding the coil close to your junk? ;)

Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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What I didn't see mentioned was after you master one of these techniques and can do it really really fast, what it feels like to smash a metal XLR connector into your nuts when it's going about mach 1.

 

Wastrel - why are you holding the coil close to your junk? ;)

I don't anymore... Painful lesson learned!

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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Over and Under for me, I worked on sound crews for years, and if you mis-coiled a cord, especially a snake, my boss would call you out mercilessly. It's second nature now, I find myself doing it coiling hoses, extension cords, anything.

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...It's second nature now, I find myself doing it coiling hoses, extension cords, anything.

 

Same here. Oddly, the principle of reversing twist direction on alternate loops seems to be mostly unknown in the boating world. I've gotten a few strange looks after using over-and-under while handling lines on a sailboat. Maybe people think it's not good for laid rope, I don't know. Even folks with fairly well-developed marlinspike skills don't seem to know about it.

 

B.

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I still use the good ol' roadie knot (double it over and over until it's the right length, then tie it all in an overhand knot.) It's quick, effective, and easier to teach others to do. I also do stereo pairs together, when they're 12' or less. That saves time more often than not.

 

1+. Easy and it works.

 

Busch.

 

+1 Bam

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1st time I had to go on a video shoot as an audio tech, I got nailed for not "over undering". I'd never heard of it. Now it's habit & I do it on everything. I can always immediately tell the cables I got before I started doing that as they have bends & kinks in them from being wrapped incorrectly before.

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