Intro: Reduce Clutter by Twisting Wires
Electronics projects can get messy in many ways, including having wires making it difficult to navigate the inside and/or outside of your project. This Instructable will show you how to quickly and easily reduce clutter in your projects with wires.
As pointed out by pfred2, if your project is very sensitive to wire crosstalk, use only twisted pairs (two strands) and not more, like I use to demonstrate in this instructable.
You will need:
Insulated wires (This will not work with bare wires!)
Wire cutters or scissors
Drill with adjustable chuck (ideally electric, but you could do this with one of the hand-crank ones too)
Step 1: Step 1: Cut
You will want to cut however many wires you want to use to the same length. Keep in mind that the twisting will make the wires shorter. The wires I twisted ended up being about 80% of their original length. This percentage can change depending on the tightness of the wrap, but will always be a bit shorter than the straight length of wire that you cut.
Note that the thicknesses of the wires don't matter, but the closer the diameters are to each other, the cleaner the wrap will come out.
Step 2: Step Two: Clamp
Align the ends of the wires and put them in the clamp fairly close to each other. Remember to only put one end of each wire in the clamp!
Both ends should still be even with each other. If they aren't even, check to see that the clamp hasn't allowed wires to slip out. You should be able to pull pretty hard on the wires and not have them slip out of the clamp. Also be sure that whatever the clamp is attached to will not move.
Step 3: Step Three: Drill
Loosen the chuck of the drill to allow wires to be put in. In my case, the three wires could be neatly arranged between the three teeth, but as long as you can tighten the chuck enough to hold the wires in place, the number of wires does not matter. I have done this with up to 8 wires without too much trouble. Make sure your drill chuck is tight and won't slip. Also make sure you have enough room to stand with the drill in your hand and make the wires taught.
Step 4: Step Four: Twist!
To begin actually twisting the wire, give the wires some tension and start the drill going in one direction fairly slowly. After you see a uniform spiral forming, you can speed up. The wires will start to become shorter because of the twisting and will pull you towards the clamped end. You should start to walk in with the drill but still provide enough tension to prevent the wire from flopping around while spinning.
Once you reach your desired length or twist density, keep twisting a little, and then put your drill in reverse until you get back to where you want. I have found that this helps with the flexibility of the cable.
Step 5: Finishing
Remove your cable from the clamp and the drill, straighten the ends a little, and take a moment to admire your work. If all went well, your wires should not untwist themselves and the cable should be easy to bend and coil. Trim to your desired length, strip the ends if you so choose, and you're done!
If the wires in your cable need to reach different places, simply unwrap a portion of the cable with the specific wires. You should be able to twist them together by hand to make them stay.
This trick has been very useful in making custom cables, used in everything from small circuits to tethers for controlling underwater vehicles.