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Old June 19th, 2007, 07:42 PM   #1
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How do you guys manage/store/transport cables ?

I'm trying to put together a reasonable kit (audio) to take on location when I'm wearing the "sound guy" hat.

The collection of audio XLR cables I want to carry is pretty hard to manage.

I try to keep three or four 25' cables, three 50' cables, two 75' cables and two 100' ones. Also keep a handful of short, 2-3' cables.

After coiling them, I'm using two of those Velcro wraps for each one to sort of keep them under control, but I have a sizable stack of these coils and it's pretty unwieldy.

Any recommendations you have for cable management and transport would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Stephen H
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Old June 19th, 2007, 10:41 PM   #2
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To make neat coils, XLR has to be wound up in "reel" fashion (I do it hand over hand). The cable doesn't tolerate very well the kind of twisting you get when you try to coil it up the way you would a rope.

I use a piece of luggage--the kind with wheels and a handle you can pull out--to store and transport my cables and other audio equipment.
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Old June 20th, 2007, 12:18 AM   #3
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I put length labels on my XLR cables. On my last shoot, we had three synced cameras, audio DA, video TC DA, monitor village, TC run to all cameras, mixed audio to all cameras, feed to house sound and my Tascam P2. With that much 'spagetti' on the floor, being able to quickly get the right length from the truck is important.

I also invested in a Whirlwind 6 channel XLR snake on a reel. That saves a ton of time on set-up and strike.

To coil the shorter 50 footers, I stretch them out along the floor and whip them to get the twists out and coil them, then velco and throw them into a Pelican case.

Last edited by Glenn Davidson; June 20th, 2007 at 12:53 AM.
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Old June 20th, 2007, 12:51 AM   #4
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A soft "tote" bag or two is a handy way to put a bunch of cables in your hand. I've picked up a couple at trade shows that I use all the time.

Something like this:
http://www.rei.com/product/724228

Or maybe this:
http://www.llbean.com/webapp/wcs/sto...from=&rtnComp=

I also have a couple that seem to be a kind of vinyl-ized cloth, which are nice because they stand up on their own.
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Old June 20th, 2007, 04:25 AM   #5
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Coming from the "live entertainment" world, I handle my cables a bit differently. They travel in road cases and instead of Velcro, I use electrical tape. Sure I use a lot of tape, but I've always found Velcro clips annoying...

More important than having a lot of cables though is having a MILLION adapters. You can NEVER have too many adapters. As long as I have my adapter kits and electrical tape, I can make anything work!
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Old June 20th, 2007, 09:14 AM   #6
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trade show bags - since they're never very large, they are a good size b/ c the cables can get heavy. I try to keep them organized but cables just seem to end up in which ever bag and I just bring all bags.

hand coil each with velcro strips. 1 strip per cable seems to work fine, plug the same cable's ends into each other (not sure why, but sometimes I just do).

colored electrical tape markings on each to identify length and to differentiate cables of same length (eg red stripe = 50 ft. 1 black stripe for cable a, 2 black stripes for cable b, etc.).

a 50 or 100' snake would be really nice ... easier than individual cables - would be much less time consuming - taping down multiple cables in a flat run on the floor takes some time and also more tape than a snake would need. maybe next purchase.
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Old June 20th, 2007, 09:39 AM   #7
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I started in television in 1974. At that time, the engineers showed me how to 'coil' audio cable, in the usual 'over-under - twist' looping fashion. It was explained that this is the most certain way of uncoilling without tangles, and keeps the cables flexible.

I've done it that way ever since.

We didn't have velcro at the time, and used Gaffer's tape. When taping with gaffers tape, I use a thin slice, and fold over the 'end' to make a tab for removal. Gaffers tape can be retapped a couple of times too. Colored tape works well for coding lengths.

I've now come to prefer the velcro tapes. I like the kind that pass THROUGH a plastic keeper, and then double back on themselves, they seem to hold better.

When transporting a 'flypack' of gear, I keep the cables for a production in a plastic tub. I set then in 'vertically', that is- side by side - with the velcro tapes on the top - easily visible. Small tubs can be stacked on a dolly, larger tubs can be purchased with built in wheels.

Really long snakes should be rolled onto 'reels' for ease of transport and recoiling.

Just my thoughts and experience.
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Old June 21st, 2007, 10:04 AM   #8
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Rip Ties are worth every penny for this. We use duffle bags, and keep some cables (neatly coiled) in large zip lock bags so they're easier to find amid the jumble. Can't seem to keep the coil for the 100' cable from getting messed up. The loops travel or something. Buying quality cables is key by the way. They hold the loop better.
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Old June 21st, 2007, 10:14 AM   #9
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Quality cables are a definite plus. ESPECIALLY in long runs. They coil better, lay flatter, conduct cleaner, connect better. Yeah, worth every penny. Never regret spending more for quality cables. They will outlast the cheap ones, and give you a LOT less grief.
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Old June 21st, 2007, 10:18 AM   #10
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I coil my cables carefully with the over-under-twist method, bind them with 1 or 2 velcro strips, and store/transport them in medium sized plastic bins from Walmart. I use the clear bins so I can see their contents easily, and it tends to get me through security checkpoints faster too. As far as XLR goes, I only buy 25ft cables because they're easy to manage, and I can connect as many as I need together to get a desired run. I just get a whole bunch of them.

I keep a bin of XLR cables, a bin of RCA and 1/4" cables, a bin of power cables/strips, etc... each with its own roll of gaff tape thrown in for convenience. A large divided box for lots of adapters. There's never enough adapters :-)
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Old June 21st, 2007, 11:03 AM   #11
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Thanks for the great tips.

I really like the idea of "snakes", but I've only seen them with large numbers of cables in the bundle: 6, 8, 16, etc.

A 2-cable snake that I could use to go from the mixer to the camera input would be perfect. Does such an animal exist ?

Thanks again,

Stephen H
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Old June 21st, 2007, 11:14 AM   #12
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Well you can always bundle a couple of cables together to make your own 'snake'. We've got a few 25 foot runs of BNC and XLR cables that we hook between the cameras and the PL systems. They are taped together every sixteen inches or so with tape. Works okay. They stay together, and it's convenient. You can quickly identify the 'camera cables' in a box.

I suppose you can get those corrugated/flexible cable managing tubes for short runs too, though I don't think they would coil as well.

Basically, I think it's just a matter of laying out the cables you want bundled, and just taking the time to tape them every foot or so.

NOTE: I've handled short snakes that were bundled using zip-ties. While the ties are fast and easy to apply, the little 'locks' on them are HELL on your hands when you are coiling or dragging the cable, so for this reason I prefer tape. Gaffers works best, easier to remove if necessary.
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Old June 21st, 2007, 11:37 AM   #13
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There is a product, I forget the name, that allows you to make your own snakes. It's basically some kind of thin plastic tape with no or very light adhesive that you wrap around the cables along their entire length. Sort of like electrical tape without all the gunk, I think. I've never used it. I'm not sure how it clings to itself, but does somehow, supposedly.
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Old June 21st, 2007, 12:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Hall View Post
A 2-cable snake that I could use to go from the mixer to the camera input would be perfect. Does such an animal exist ?
Um, yeah. I don't have one, but keep on looking at them... one of these days. Usually called ENG or breakaway cables, because they frequently have an in-line multipin connector near the camera end so that you can break the cable with a single connector - camera gets a 12" pigtail, audio coils the 25' cable back to the mixer.

http://www.remoteaudio.com/cables.htm#betacam_breakaway
http://atscomms.com/Sales/Products/BCS/bcs.html
http://www.professionalsound.com/Catalog/Cables.htm
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Old June 21st, 2007, 12:11 PM   #15
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I've got one of those Remote Audio Beta-Breakaways, and consider it absolutely essential. In addition to combining both channels, it also includes a return feed from the camera headphone output so you can monitor what's actually recording to tape. There's a return feed input for just that on our SD302 mixer. Beg, borrow or steal to get this, because you need it. I promise. Very rugged too. It has never let us down, and we have never gotten any interference while using it. It's made of Mogami cable and coils so beautifully it's almost obscene.
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