Introduction: Affordable Home Network Cable Management
What I have is a shelf full of networked equipment. From left to right I have an HP Media Smart server, a Time Capsule and a Thecus Media server. The HP Media Smart server has a power cord and an Ethernet cable. The Time Capsule has a power cord and 4 Ethernet cables. The Thecus server has a power cord and 2 Ethernet cables. As you can see below the shelf, the network cables and power cords are a mess! I will use some very affordable and readily accessible network cable management devices to conquer this cable mess.
Step 1: Disclaimer
Be careful when working with cables. Take care to not allow cables to wrap around your feet or ankles. Cables are tripping hazards! Pulling on an Ethernet cable that is stuck can accidentally remove an end off of the cable. Do not fold, spindle or mutilate an Ethernet cable. Doing so might impede your network traffic. Take care to not wrap a power cord in the same spiral wrapper as an Ethernet cable. Ethernet cables can be susceptible to electromagnetic interference. Do not unplug a network cable if you are not sure what it is for or how to reconnect it. The author of this instructable is not responsible for mistakes made by the viewer or misunderstandings/misinterpretations by the viewer.
Step 2: Supplies
The following photos show the supplies needed for this instructable. Please do not think you must buy each item pictured from each store. I'm showing you what is offered by several stores just in case you don't have each store near you.
The first photo (top) contains products form the Staples store. Staples carries spiral cable wrap and cable ties. The packages pictured here contain 8 feet of spiral wrapping and 52 cable ties. These two packages cost approximately $20 at the time this instructable was created (2013-02-19).
The second photo (bottom left) contains items from Radio Shack. Radio Shack carries wire tie mounting pads 10 per package and spiral cable wrap 10 feet per package. These 3 items cost approximately $20.
The third photo (bottom right) contains items from Home Depot (any large home store would carry these items). These items are located in the Electrical department. Home Depot carries wire tie mounting pads 100 per bag and spiral cable wrap 10 feet (multiple sizes per bag). These two items cost approximately $15.
Step 3: What I Used
I decided to use the black mounting pads, the black spiral wrap and the multi-colored wire ties (zip strips). If you can find all of these at one store, more power to you. Also included in this picture are 2 velcro reusable wire ties. My cable runs were not that long so I didn't use them. I included them in this photo just in case you could find them and wanted to use them. I found these online. I believe it was $6 for 100 of them. If you prefer to use them instead of the plastic wire ties (zip strips) please feel free to do so.
Step 4: Apply the Spiral Wrap
I start by applying the spiral cable wrap to the Time Capsule Ethernet cables. It's a simple process. You start at the top of your Ethernet cables and spin or wrap the spiral wrapping around your cables. This picture shows the first 5 wraps around the Ethernet Cables.
TIP: Some network people prefer to cut the spiral wrap into 3 or 4 foot sections. This makes it easy to work with. Every time you wrap the spiral wrapping around the cable, the entire length of the spiral wrap must go around the cables. Smaller sections of wrapping are easier to manage in doing this.
Step 5: Wrapping More Ethernet Cables
Wrapping the Thecus server Ethernet cables.
Step 6: Apply the Spiral Wrapping to the Power Cords
I applied the spiral wrap to the power cords of the Time Capsule and the Thecus Media server.
Step 7: Apply the Mounting Pads and Wire Ties on the Left Side
I used the mounting pads and wire ties (zip strips) to position the Time Capsule and Thecus server power cords just under the shelf. The mounting pads have a sticky backside. just peel off the thin membrane on the back and stick it to the wall. I've used them on dry wall and concrete without issue. There are 4 slits in the mounting pad to run the wire tie (zip strip) thru. I tried to get everything as close to the underside of the shelf as possible so they are not visible to people in the room.
NOTICE: Just after the lower mounting page, as the power cords start their vertical descent towards the floor, I included the HP Media Smart server power cord into the wire wrap.
TIP: I normally would have used mounting pads and wire ties (zip strips) that match the color of the wall. At least, I'd try to match them as close as possible. This will go a long ways towards making the cable management devices less visible to people in the room. For the purposes of this instructable I used black spiral wrap, black mounting pads and red wire ties (zip strips) for contrast in the photos.
Step 8: Complete the Power Cord Run
The power cords are mounted, tied and run to the floor.
TIP: For vertical runs, you can use a mounting pad and wire tie (zip strip) every 2 or 3 feet. For horizontal runs, you might want to consider using mounting pads no more than 2 feet apart. With horizontal runs, wire sag becomes an issue.
Step 9: Run the Ethernet Cables to the Right Side
The Ethernet cables are run to the right side of the shelving. Again, I tried to keep the cables as close to the underside of the shelf as possible. Also, I started the vertical drop in line with the vertical shelf bracket.
Step 10: Include HP Media Smart Ethernet in Spiral Wrapping
I incorporate the HP Media Smart server Ethernet cable into the vertical spiral wrapping along the right side of the shelving. Spiral wrapping is very easy to work with. If at some point you need to include a cable in with cable that's already wrapped, just unwrap the spiral wrapping to the point you want to start including the other cable. Then just rewrap the entire bundle from that point forward.
NOTICE: The second mounting pad from the top of this photo is inline with the vertical shelf bracket. In my opinion, it looks better if the vertical cable run is in line with the vertical bracket. Also, just below my hand, there is a mounting pad attached to the wall with a wire tie (zip strip) inserted and ready to accept cables.
Step 11: Finished
Finished! This picture shows the "after" version of the cable management. The power cords are wrapped and dropped vertically along the left side. The Ethernet cables are wrapped and dropped along the right side.
Home networking cable management really is that simple. For approximately $20 I was able to conquer my cable management issue.
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