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Problem: Computer/video projectors or screens have a cable with one plug and devices you want to attach have a multitude of plugs. What’s needed? Obviously, an adapter. Well any presentation junky with a Mac carries a VGA adapter when they travel, just as a PC user may carry an HDMI adapter when they travel. But what about in the office, library, or wherever there may be common-use projection? Adapters should be available near the projection device, but adapters walk…

This is a real problem with OEM adapters that cost over $20 each but even with ~$5 non-OEM ones like these from eBay seller michellejivliu. If you cannot reliably find the adapter in the room you loose productivity and gain frustration.

Step 1: Inspiration to Solution

Solution: Secure the adapter with a Chain!?!?

Of course not, that would scratch the table, not to mention a multitude of other usability concerns and not to mention the price. Price and usability are key to the solution proposed here.

Seeing other coworkers’ solutions with zip ties inspired me. See below and notice that an issue is that an idle user may play with the zip tie and shorten it, thus rendering the adapter useless.

Step 2: The Invention

Invention: The simple addition of heat shrink tubing to transform a zip tie (cable tie), which has an inherent design point (and limitation) that it shrinks but does not grow. Here is an inexpensive solution to make a fixed length zip tie/cable tie with loops on each end that can be easily attached to whatever you desire.

Step 3: Now for Building (1 of 3)

Step 1: Decide a desired length of the base cable. I started with 7.5” cables, but that was really a bit more than I needed. Cable length of 6.5” was generally fine for all my applications. Find a zip tie/cable tie that will satisfy that need and zip it to twice the length in circumference such that it is the desired length when folded flat with the tie end at one end. Now trim the extra tail.

Step 4: Building (2 of 3)

Step 2: Cut the heat shrink 1/2" smaller than the folded zip tie allowing 1/4" to be exposed on each end to allow easy attachment of small zip ties/wire ties. Using a professional heat gun or your sister’s blow dryer, shrink the tubing to make it all look spiffy.

Getting a nice pair of diagonal cutters (I call them dikes, a term that has too many meanings now) makes this trimming and installing go all so much easier.

Step 5: Building (3 of 3)

Step 3: Attach each end as desired with small ties. Trim tails so everything is neat and pretty.
Say goodbye to missing adapters, say hello to more productive meetings. :)

Above pictured with VGA to Mini DisplayPort and HDMI to Mini DisplayPort respectively.

Step 6: Bill of Materials

  • 1 x Large Zip Tie like the Harbor Freight 24” Cable Ties ($1.69/10 = 17 cents)
    http://www.harborfreight.com/24-inch-heavy-duty-ca... They also have 11” but I think that may be a bit tight, you can easily find 15” from a multitude of vendors on eBay, or check your favorite local hardware store.
  • 2 x Small Zip Ties like the Harbor Freight 5” Cable Ties ($1.99/100 = 4 cents/2) http://www.harborfreight.com/5-in-black-cable-tie... I like white ones personally, and you will have no problem finding a color of your preference on eBay or your favorite local hardware store.
  • 6” or so of 1/4” or 5/16” heat shrink tubing, purchase long length and cut to save like the Harbor Freight 8ft 1/4” for ($1.99/8ft = 13 cents/6”) http://www.harborfreight.com/1-4-quarter-inch-x-8... One issue is this tubing has a lot of writing on the sides, you may want to find an alternate supplier like a local electronics shop of eBay. I am blessed to be near nice local shops like Halted, Anchor Electronics, and Fry’s Electronics.

Grand Total: 34 cents each plus tax.

Note: This BOM list was made at my best effort. I have the privilege to work at a research facility with a stock room that contains zip ties, and heat shrink tubing of every size, along with pens & pencils, test tubes, and well, the list goes on and on...

Step 7: Promise of the Future

The author does believe that some day there will be a more perfect world with ubiquitous wireless (WiFi or Bluetooth or such) video (and audio) transfer that deals with all protocols, aspect ratios, security etc. etc. etc.

But until that day comes, he deals with cables.

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