Introduction: Make Straight Cable Into Coiled / Pigtail Cable

Picture of Make Straight Cable Into Coiled / Pigtail Cable

Here is a super-easy way permanently coil a cable such as a USB, Lightning, or similar data / charging cable.

I recently upgraded my iphone and had to upgrade all my cables too. I like the coiled type for plugging my phone into my car stereo. For some reason, the coiled cables cost about $12 a piece, but you can by 5 straight ones for $10. Being cheap, I bought the straight ones and decided to coil one myself.

Step 1: Stuff You Need:

Picture of Stuff You Need:

Straight Cable - I'm using a $2 36" long lightning cable from Amazon. If you plan on doing this to some crazy, high-end, expensive cable, proceed at your own risk. I can't guarantee you won't ruin it.

A round object - I'm using a piece of threaded tube meant for a lamp. It's about 3/8" diameter. You can use a dowel rod, pencil, metal bar, etc. Whatever you use make sure it is something than can take a little heat and moisture.

Cable ties - You can use wire twist ties or other fasteners if you want.

Step 2: Boil Some Water

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Hopefully you have access to a stove, a pot, and some water. Boil that stuff up. Move on to the next step while you are waiting. For God's sake man, don't watch it!

Step 3: While You're Waiting...

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Start coiling your wire. Secure one end to the rod with a cable tie or other fastener.

Step 4: Coil It Up

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Wrap the wire tightly around the rod. Secure the other end with another cable tie.

Step 5: Take Care of Some Loose Ends.

Picture of Take Care of Some Loose Ends.

Trim your cable ties to get them out of the way.

Step 6: Quality Control Inspection

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Let the boss check over your work.

Step 7: Submerge in the Boiling Water

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Use some tongs or other utensil to keep it off the bottom of the pot. The bottom is hotter and could damage the cable. Keep it submerged for a good 60 seconds to soften the plastic in the cable.

I read somewhere else that you could do this with a hair dryer. I tried it with mine and did not get good results. The coil relaxed too much and was very loose. I checked the temperature when I heated it with the hair dryer and it was only bringing up to about 130 degrees F. This might work for you if you have a more powerful hair dryer or a heat gun. I think the boiling water is good because you get a nice controlled 212 degrees F.

Step 8: Finish Up

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Remove the cable from the boiling water and let it cool off. You can run it under cold water to speed this up. Clip off the cable ties and slide it off the rod. Make sure everything is dried off good before using. Enjoy your springy, coiled cable.

Comments

Cesar Carvalho (author)2017-10-30

To keep the spiral closer, the twist must be "reversed". Following video shows the reversing method after 4:00.

Perfect, thank you!

RobertC2 (author)Cesar Carvalho2017-11-01

Brilliant video! Thank you!

ValentinR12 (author)2017-11-05

Work also with a hairdryer just not heat the cable to the fusion point (it depends on the hairdryer also). I dit succeseful used this method.

NativeElement (author)2017-10-30

Any conjectures on whether this technique would work on cables that have the braided nylon covering instead of the rubbery covering?

(My suspicion is that this method will not curl the charging cable with the braided nylon covering.)

MillerI (author)NativeElement2017-11-01

Check out the video Carvalho posted. The show nylon braided, coiled cables near the end.

janetlorenc (author)2017-10-29

Many thanks for the FANTASTIC idea, but Will it Sous Vide? I'm going to try warming some test cables gently in my sous vide "water oven" to 185 deg (max temp for my sous vide) and see if the curl sets. If so, that would avoid the risk of overcooking, a culinary hazard with which I am all too familiar. I already use a dedicated old slow cooker to strip paint off window and door hardware, thanks to another fave instructable https://www.instructables.com/id/Clean-and-Re-finish-Old-Door-Hardware/ . And I will first put cables in ziplock bags, so the cables will not only stay completely dry, but I can still use my sous vide setup for pot roast tonight. Bon Appetite!

MillerI (author)janetlorenc2017-11-01

I think it might. I would do a carnitas on the side so you don't waste all that heat at 185F :-)

ElectroFrank (author)2017-10-30

NO no no NO ! Keep the cable ends OUT of the water ! Just pour boiling water from the kettle over the coils to heat them up for about 30 seconds, then run cold water over them. Keep the plugs totally DRY ! Water in plugs will cause short circuits !

(I always use this method to straighten out all the cables on things I buy that are usually folded and kinked.)

MillerI (author)ElectroFrank2017-11-01

She did say to dry the cable good (although I'm sure she meant well) so there won't be a short circuit in theend without water. However, I do agree that the ends should not be submerged. The cables fail easily enough as it is without introducing some possible corrosive elements.

duane420 (author)2017-10-30

Is the Cat Scan really necessary. I have only dogs but can get a Lab report.

MillerI (author)duane4202017-11-01

Enough Monkey business! Get back to work.

gcai_fwb (author)duane4202017-10-30

:)

bjm1950 (author)2017-10-31

Just great!

Now I can minimise the 'Law of Tangle' according to Brian!!!!

Thanks

douggie12 (author)2017-10-31

it's a great instructable....thanks. it suggested that the resulting coil will be tighter if it's "reversed ". How tben do you reverse a coil?

MartinF50 (author)2017-10-31

Very nice!

AvensisA (author)2017-10-31

Immersing USB cables in water is going to mess them up down the line.

志和周 made it! (author)2017-10-30

Hello: Thanks! It's very good.

pclouwrens (author)2017-10-30

If you reverse the coil afterwards, the spiral will be tighter!

gcai_fwb (author)2017-10-30

I use a slightly different method :

Wrap cord on pipe as you do but use masking tape to secure the ends. I use a stainless steel pipe sourced from the scrap bin a little smaller diameter than a pencil.

I then use my heat gun on low to gently, moving the wrapped coil through the heat gun output, heat the wrapped cord, usually use the finger touch test - if I grasp the coil for more than 3-5 seconds its not warm enough - then let it cool and reverse twist the coil as mentioned by others

works for me :)

LouisW2431 (author)2017-10-30

Suppose this would work with an ordinary extension cord, like those in 6' or 25' or 50' or more at the local home supply store?

towellm (author)2017-10-30

Last step and very important for a polished job.

Turn the coil inside-out. This will put a pre-tension in the coil that will hold the coils tight against each other in the retracted position. I didn't come up with this trick myself, this is how they are actually produced.

You can also heat the wire prior to wrapping it on the mandrel (you will need gloves), in some circumstances higher softening temps require an oven.

For higher temps use hot sand. You need a lot of sand...i.e. a large thermal reservoir. A cooks quick read thermometer will work well.

Heat the sand in an oven and let it stabilize (this may take a fairly long time), remove from the oven and immerse the wire in the sand, install your thermometer in contact with the wire/sand, cover and wait. If it's a large cross section, turn the oven down or off and put the wire/sand back in. Do not put the wire in cold sand and try to heat it, you will make a "mess".

RicksterInstructables (author)2017-10-30

Interesting "twist"!

The cable isn't "waterproof", so some water IS going to get in. I bet that it WILL cause problems over time.

Can you put the whole mess (rod, cable etc) in a ziplock bag with most of the air pressed out before submerging it?

JoeB100 (author)2017-10-30

Great post, I intend to try

dapiguy (author)2017-10-30

You may wish to use distilled water if your tap water is hard because the minerals in hard water can cake themselves onto the metal components, which can cause issues with data transfer at high speeds and high-current applications (i.e. USB Fast Charge).

BrothrBob (author)2017-10-29

I'll try this for sure~! Thankx

seamster (author)2017-10-27

Nice, simple method. Thanks!

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