Wire is a trajectory through which objects are powered and data transferred, the preservation of its conductivity is the main concern here. Ideas this instructable focuses on are: ergonomics, portability, , storage and retrieval. The format for this will not be step by step procedures but sections pertaining to each idea along with tips. This will include essential portable electronics and appliance accessories, temporary installation techniques, safety & preventative measures, techniques for modifying cables, plus much more.
note: the neologism "coiler " is used frequently to describe devices and or accessories that spool cords.
Twisty Ties, Coil formations, figure eights and Ovals
Spike and surge protectors, line noise filter
The transformer or wall wart adapter
Dock and Charge Stations
Temporary electronic set-ups
RFI/EMI line-noise filter ferrites
Stress point Reinforcement Springs
Labels and Tags
Step 1: Twisty Ties and Coil Formations
The wire ties are still considered trash, but they can serve the new or old cables by removing their kinks and bends. The process eventually trains the copper and plastic to form a coil. Coils are the easiest to use and store with out tangles. When a cord is twisted, kinked or excessively bent the copper wires eventually split. This results in cables that don't conduct or have inconsistent current. With a signal or power not flowing as clean, down the line these will harm their devices.
Began by wrapping the cord into a ring coil around your hand. If the coil needs to be larger, find something cylindrically shaped such a bottle to wrap it around. Next use the ties to hold the coils shape. Let it sit like this for a while, later repeat the process until cord is less kinked and ready for a real cable management system. Find the coil size by determining the cables width and length into a reasonably sized torus (donut shape). Have both plug ends slightly overlap each other so that they can be cinched together with ties.
Every type type of cord can be managed in to a ring, regardless of how thick its extrusion is. With cords that have less plastic extrusion other types of coils can work too.
Similar to ring coils is the figure eight and oval, they're even easier to store, although the downside is more kinks and a slight amount of tangle. Cords that have a lot of shielding or extra thick rubber extrusion work best. To form the figure eight first coil the wire into oval, in the same way a ring coil was made. Then one side can be managed and the other side cinched toward it. The cinch should leave both terminals taught and not loose or dangling. To achieve this make both plug ends come together, using whatever management system is at hand.
If cable the is of medium length use both hands to create the circle. Take one end of the cord and make a circle in what ever size is needed. Then with the other hand take the cord wrap it around again. Repeat this over and over by alternating between both hands, one will hold the circles shape while the other wraps it around and then hands switch tasks.
For coiling say a long extension cord by hand. Began by holding one end and wrapping it around your elbow and back around to your hand. Repeat this until the cable is coiled in to an oval nearly the diameter of your Ulna and radius. Then to close the loop, plug the male terminal into the female. Extension cords are usually somewhat dirty from being on the ground, Bonami and coarse dish scrubs can help keep them clean.
Step 2: Surge Protection and Filtering
Diagnostic LED's inform the user of the condition of the outlet and if its safe.
Line noise filter: eliminates EMI/RFI noise
Spike (surge) protection
Jacks for modem and telephone (if needed) grounded and safeguarded
At least two outlets: these can be split, which will be discussed in the next step
Step 3: Grounded Splitters
The Monster 4-1 or 3-1 is compact and versatile. Breaker included and pilot light. These can work with up to 4 transformers but become very clustered when in use. It can be set up on the table or floor but may require an extension somewhere up the line.
The Power squid with its on/off switch and extension cord also is another direction. This easily accommodates multiple transformers, which should be plugged in upside down so that all extensions face upward. The squid almost always remains stationed on the ground, because of its size. Unfortunately its size and design is large and obtrusive.
Step 4: Transformers
Compact mobile phone chargers are another often needed power supply. These are designed for portability and will modified with cable management.
Transformer type one ball and chain. These are difficult to integrate with breakers and surge protectors. When these are used you must make sure the breaker has a special wide access area for it, other wise you will need a very short extension cord. When coiling these up for storage there are some useful techniques that apply. First leave four inches or so of extra slack right where the cord exits the transformer (the stress point 1). Next coil the cord loosely around the body of the transformer, guiding it through the metal prongs. Use Velcro located on the transformer end to keep the cord from unraveling.
Transformer type two floor wart: is like the ball and chain, but almost always rests on the ground. Floor warts are considered extremely difficult to manage because of the two different size and length cords and the bulky transformer in the middle. Unfortunately there is not one conventional method for manging these either. Some of these have the ability to remove the ac cord for storage, other AC cords can work with them even if you have to whittle down the plug to fit it.
Notes on modification
Any transformer that can not be opened via screws, is sealed together with heat or glue. If it was put together it can be taken apart, only prying may damage the plastic exterior. If a transformers extension looks old or damaged, open it up and get to the terminals. De-solder them and replace with speaker wire. Make sure your polarity (tip/ring +/-, look on your device or its manual for info) is matched correctly before soldering on a new plug. Almost all transformers do not have heat vents but actually need them. To mod a hot transformer with a vent simply take it apart and drill holes at its top or sides.
Step 5: Charge and Sync Dock
Secure the cord to a table leg or other object via Velcro strap and or wrap around.
place unit on top of protective pouch, media sleeve or belt case
Buy or make a protective pouch to use as a dock
Step 6: Temporary Electronic Set-ups
Step 7: Set Up for a Small Work Area
Step 8: Set Up for a Medium Size Work Area
Here the power supply is located off the ground and on the table, using first an extension cord then a power tap and splitter. The extension cord is slightly wrapped around the table leg with its extra slack near the outlet. In practice its good to leave the extra cord slack near the outlet in case of a trip and fall, while the other end is secured.
A fan is conveniently placed to cool off the laptop and the user. Its connected to another outlet along with the room lamp.
Step 9: Management Systems
Zip ties are semi permanent, disposable and inexpensive. Available in many lengths, sizes and colors. They work great for labeling, color coding and modification. Reusable zip ties are available from Ikea, but are still difficult to re-use. The ninety-nine cent store (and other bargain stores) sell these for reasonable prices.
Cable cuffs are strong and reusable plastic clamps. They're adjustable and come in several sizes. Color coded for visibility and organization. These can attached to the cable with two zip ties. Although durable they can break if stepped on.
Cable ties are reusable plastic straps for managing short cords. These lock with a serrated teeth that hook into small slots on its other end. Refer to the first section of this instructable for instructions on how they're used.
Other management systems
Interesting names for other management systems are Clam, disc, yo-yo and ring. Many different companies have patented cable coilers that all do the same exact thing: coil the wire into a spiral formation. For quick and easy storage and retrieval these won't make the cut. Although intended for every day use they quickly become an annoyance. These small devices take a straight cord mold it into a small tight spring, when uncoiled the spring becomes a tangled twisted mess. They don't deal with preservation of the cord and actually increase wear and strain when used repetitively. Like the undesirable ball and chain effect, these add another bulky object in between it user and the cord. These management devices are more effective as solutions for shortening cables in a permanent installation. None of these devices are recommended, though their designs are fascinating.
Step 10: RFI/EMI Line-noise Filter Ferrites
Step 11: Stress Point Reinforcement Springs
Step 12: Tape
Electrical tape is used for quick reinforcement, splicing and repair.
Occasionally its used with a sharpie marker for cord labels or marking wires.
Step 13: Cord Covers
There are fabric cord covers available from home and decorator stores. Usually available in one size, but with many variations on color and fabric. These cord covers are almost purely for looks, except for that they reduce tangle. Some cord covers attach to cord with velcro or snaps, these are difficult to install and will have holes through out. The closed sleeve covers are preferred because its look is cleaner and has no holes, these one are installed by easily walking the plug through the sleeve.
The Shoelace is a inexpensive alternative for the look of cloth covered cable. Acquire a patterned hallow shoe lace made from nylon or other synthetic material. Cut the aglets (the plastic bit) off, from both ends. Take a lighter and singe the frayed end, then take saliva or water and pinch the threads together. This should prevent it from fraying apart. Now take the cable and "walk" it through. Use heat shrink and hot glue to keep the covers ends secured beneath the plug end.
Split loom is for semi-industrial wire management, usually applied in a permanent installation. Split loom works well for grouping together several cables of the same length that all follow the same trajectory. Also very useful for modifications and projects. It is made from durable plastic and comes in several sizes. The white and black colors are most commonly used, do not buy the metallic colored loom, its paint chips away and makes a mess.
Spring tubing is similar to split loom, designed for cable management and protection. Its best uses are for permanent installations, although it might be applicable for some modifications and projects too, such as a custom cable snake. The wrap around plastic strip looks like a spring. It is also available in many colors and sizes.
In terms of making a cord cover from scratch there is a ingenious instructable that uses a loom. The instructable will allow one to create a cover for any size in any color with out using a sewing machine.
Step 14: Labels and Tags
Step 15: Prongs
Fold away prongs are a interesting feature for transformers. These prevent abrasion or damage to other objects their stored and transported with. Similarly a cover preserves the metal and makes it easier to transport.
The first prong guard is a simple piece of plastic that is sometimes included with the retail package like the twisty ties.
It is also possible to make a cover using plasti-dip, scotch tape and a releasing agent such as vasoline.