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tech: What is it with audio cables?

Will Fly 30 Mar 10 - 11:33 AM
Bill D 30 Mar 10 - 11:40 AM
Melissa 30 Mar 10 - 11:46 AM
Nigel Parsons 30 Mar 10 - 11:48 AM
Will Fly 30 Mar 10 - 11:50 AM
Bill D 30 Mar 10 - 11:54 AM
Sorcha 30 Mar 10 - 12:14 PM
beeliner 30 Mar 10 - 12:17 PM
Amos 30 Mar 10 - 12:33 PM
Leadfingers 30 Mar 10 - 12:45 PM
gnomad 30 Mar 10 - 02:30 PM
Will Fly 30 Mar 10 - 02:40 PM
beeliner 30 Mar 10 - 04:25 PM
Leadfingers 30 Mar 10 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,Ian Gill 30 Mar 10 - 05:53 PM
Tootler 30 Mar 10 - 06:08 PM
treewind 30 Mar 10 - 06:10 PM
Sorcha 30 Mar 10 - 06:10 PM
Bounty Hound 30 Mar 10 - 07:16 PM
Steve Shaw 30 Mar 10 - 07:25 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 Mar 10 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 31 Mar 10 - 07:07 AM
Bernard 31 Mar 10 - 07:25 AM
Mr Red 31 Mar 10 - 07:53 AM
VirginiaTam 31 Mar 10 - 08:13 AM
Howard Jones 31 Mar 10 - 11:54 AM
VirginiaTam 31 Mar 10 - 11:58 AM
Artful Codger 31 Mar 10 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 01 Apr 10 - 01:22 AM
s&r 01 Apr 10 - 03:05 AM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Apr 10 - 03:37 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 01 Apr 10 - 04:33 AM
Dave the Gnome 01 Apr 10 - 05:08 AM
Mr Red 01 Apr 10 - 09:45 AM
Richard Mellish 01 Apr 10 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,gust johnp 01 Apr 10 - 12:34 PM
JohnInKansas 01 Apr 10 - 06:07 PM
Joe Offer 01 Apr 10 - 06:35 PM
Gurney 01 Apr 10 - 10:16 PM
EBarnacle 01 Apr 10 - 11:30 PM
GUEST,Ian Gill 11 Apr 10 - 01:18 PM
Bernard 11 Apr 10 - 01:25 PM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Apr 10 - 06:47 PM
eddie1 12 Apr 10 - 04:18 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 12 Apr 10 - 05:23 AM
Rowan 12 Apr 10 - 06:13 PM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Apr 10 - 06:38 PM
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Subject: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 11:33 AM

Audio cables! Damn them. What is it with 'em? I've just dismantled a very nice but ageing Teac home audio system. Kept the amplifier but extracted the tuner unit, the CD unit and the cassette unit. The tuner goes to a jumble sale and the the latter two are defective and will get junked.

But everything was connected to the amplifier by double phono-double phone audio cables. I now have another handful of cables to add to the other cables which came with previous versions of television sets, audio systems, portable recorders, camcorders - and which are all stuffed into various nooks and crannies throughout the house.

Now - why is it that, when you put these things away tidily, you open up a drawer in 6 months time to find that, not only have they coiled themselves around each other in tight knots, they've spawned other cables. The house is drowning in cables, power leads, extension leads, mic leads, jack leads, phonos-to-minijack, minijack to big jack, jack-to-jack... argh...


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 11:40 AM

Well, Will...I used to have the same problem until I discovered......rubber bands! Now, if a cable is worth keeping, it gets folded/rolled and a snug rubber band around it. Even better are ziplock plastic bags with labels.
And all those connectors and plugs? Many of them will plug into each other in chains so that they will lie in neat rows in a drawer until you need one.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: Melissa
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 11:46 AM

Christmas Light Syndrome
Those are the sneakily-tangliest damn things ever created!


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 11:48 AM

Better than rubber bands are cable ties, (The name says it all really).
Rubber bands can perish, allowing your cables to spring open making a mess of whatever system you've set up.
Our local 'pound shop' recently did packs of fluorescently couloured velcro cable ties. very useful!


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 11:50 AM

Many of them will plug into each other in chains

Lateral thinking, Bill! I'll get to work...


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 11:54 AM

Nigel.. I almost added cable ties, but was lazy....(most cables actually come WITH a tie, and it can be twisted snugly around one end until needed again.)

Rubber bands, though are very useful for the short term, and most of us already have a few we can grab.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: Sorcha
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 12:14 PM

It's cause they are out to GET US! They are in league with coathangers!


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: beeliner
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 12:17 PM

It's cause they are out to GET US! They are in league with coathangers!

A cable cabal?


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: Amos
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 12:33 PM

Actually it's the copper inside them, seeking to survive and reproduce. Under certain phases of the moon they expand and uncoil with irresistible drive in search of opposite mating ends...


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 12:45 PM

The Velcro Cable ties are a Godsend ! Saves the Instrument / Mic / Speaker / Etc cables in the Gig case knitting themselves up !


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Subject: RE: BS: What is it with audio cables?
From: gnomad
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 02:30 PM

I recently tried a new remedy: a short clothesline across the back of a cupboard door, one I don't need to open too often. It is a twisted two-strand of thin bungee cord so to attach things you just poke them between the two strands.

The cables are almost all under 6' long so each cable gets a plug slipped into the clothesline and the free end is left to dangle. What I like is that the cables are all easily identified, and when used they haven't tensed into coils that make them hard to run where you wish.

I've only used this method for a few months, but so far it is looking good.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 02:40 PM

Oh lord - all my phono cables are males. They won't go into each other - at least, not in my part of the world...


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: beeliner
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 04:25 PM

The Velcro Cable ties are a Godsend !

They are indeed, for us older dudes, and for a completely different purpose.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 05:00 PM

I HATE to imagine bee !!!


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: GUEST,Ian Gill
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 05:53 PM

The cable fairy in the night knots them all up - same as speaker leads, guitar leads, mic leads, extension leads... Even if they are in a flight case which no one else touches. Here is the Paul Havell way of dealing with this; the cable fairy abhors half hitches - they are like a crucifix to vampires - so divide each length of lead or cable in half, then again as needed, tying a loose half hitch [the first part of a shoelace knot to you landlubbers] when the lead is of a pleasing size to your eye and hand. This will prevent any kinks in the cable and stop it mating with the others to produce a 'snakes wedding', as it is often called in ceilidh bands. Sorted !


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Tootler
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:08 PM

It's cause they are out to GET US! They are in league with coathangers!

My wife and daughter both maintain breeding colonies of wire coathangers. They occasionally release quantities of them into the wild with devastating consequences on the local ecology.

On a serious note, I endorse the method described by Ian Gill above. You don't need cable ties or other such - which are liable to get lost.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: treewind
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:10 PM

Professional audio cables are XLR male one end and female at the other. I keep them all plugged together in one long chain spooled round a cable drum rigged up in a holder that allows it to rotate freely, so when I need cable I just pull off the length I need and separate the connectors to divide it into the right lengths. No knots, no tangles.

Unfortunately you can't do everything with XLRs....

plastic bags are a good way to keep them separate. Looks a bit naff if you use supermarket carrier bags but they do the job perfectly.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Sorcha
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 06:10 PM

Well, here, the black ones breed like rabbits,but the white ones seem to be sterile! And I KNOW padded hangers are sterile!


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 07:16 PM

After every gig, cables are put away carefully using the Ian Gill technique detailed above, but you can guarentee that the very next time they emerge from the case they come out in a long string, all knotted together.

I am not convinced of the existence of the 'Cable Fairy' although having once lost a crown at a gig once (mid song) I did place the offending tooth under my pillow and found a bright shiny coin in the morning.

Can't wait to see what the Easter Bunny brings on Sunday!

John


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 07:25 PM

I have two very large biscuit tins which contain all the cables I've accumulated over the years. But if I need a cable for something I will not have the correct one, and I have to go into town to buy one. This, I feel, is axiomatic.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Mar 10 - 07:36 PM

I once found a batch of clear plastic storage boxes at a discount store with clip on lids - about 4 inches square on the end - but tapered from top to bottom - and about 15 inches long - never seen them again - they store audio cables, computer power leads etc, put a label on the end.

Hmmm, 5 pin din plugs to any combination of other connectors, telephone cables, RCA plugs to other things, etc, about a dozen boxes in all...


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 07:07 AM

Always remember.
Tidy wires are Happy wires.
Always coil them, Never fold them...Tying knots???? Aaaaaargh!!


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Bernard
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 07:25 AM

Listen to Ralphie!

Coiling wires takes a little practice, but is worth it long term.

NEVER wrap them around your arm like a washing line, either! Look after them and they'll look after you!


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Mr Red
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 07:53 AM

Many of them will plug into each other in chains

Lateral thinking, Bill! I'll get to work...


call me a pedant but - longitudinal thinking!

But what about the jack size#1 to phono
Do you associate it with phono or jack (size#1) family?

Tough one that.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 08:13 AM

I recycle kitchen roll tubes. Split them lengthwise and and lay the cables folded several times inside. I recycle wire hangers making fairy wings out of them.

I like that cable cabal, much better than a tangle of hangers and nearly as good as a shock of pylons.






I'll just get me tin foil hat


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 11:54 AM

Having had to untangle two 60 metre long climbing ropes while suspended from a hanging belay off a Pembrokeshire sea cliff, with the sea crashing in just below me, let me tell you that nests of audio cables are child's play by comparison.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 11:58 AM

Howard wins!


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 31 Mar 10 - 06:58 PM

Cable fairies must be incredibly stupid, for they seem thwarted by the simple twist tie. They must regard the plastic new products come wrapped in like Fort Knox, and develop 10-dimensional quantum string theories to explain the child-proof cap.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 01:22 AM

I wonder if I can get myself booked at some festivals doing coiling workshops?


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: s&r
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 03:05 AM

Ralphie & Bernard - right on. It takes a little practice to get cables to lay in their natural coil, but they don't want to move once properly coiled, and there's no damage to the cables. Once coiled we slip ours into a canvas tool roll (home made) with a pocket for each cable.

Cable discipline is hard to achieve with a band.

You can buy double sided velcro that is useful for cable ties. Black's the worst colour because you lose it after the gig

Stu


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 03:37 AM

"Cable discipline is hard to achieve with a band. "

Goddam! ... and I thought getting them all just to play in tune & time was hard enough... :-)


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 04:33 AM

Being completely serious for a moment. (ish!)
Let's say you've got a microphone worth £200, a mixing desk worth £1000 and an XLR cable worth £10.
If the cable is broken, the other two parts of the equation become essentially worthless!
I admit I do get a bit anal about it, but, I've seen too many broadcasts ruined because of faulty cables. (and it's always the lead singer, not the Hi-Hat or Snare bottom...bugger!)


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 05:08 AM

Give up. Just recycle the old cables to whatever recycle bin or charity shop will have them. Just work it out -

New cable when you need it - £5 ?

An hour spent untangling old cables - An hour you will never get back at any cost!

I started thinking like that as soon as I knew i have had more than I will get. Happy thoughts...

:D (eG)


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Mr Red
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 09:45 AM

in my experience, cables come in all manner of styles. Some are set with a Rachem Lay and bend seamlessly and can be trained. El cheapo have no lay pattern and can exist in dimensions of their own with no discernible limit - string theory must be child's play. Those that sit behind equipment and don't get disturbed don't discover that 10th dimension. But regularly used ones? - you should have bought expensive.


FWIW a lay pattern is a series of contra-rotating helices made up of a certain number of wires each layer. The numbers are well proscribed by the diameter of wires and the layer involved. It is more likely to be used on cables with many wires internally. The flexibility comes from the fact that the wires more easily slide past each other and the length on the inside of the bend and the outside can therfore remain constant. If it didn't you get those kinks and sets that created this thread.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 10:34 AM

I have frequently suffered from the attentions of the cable fairy, so I certainly won't deny her existence. (Then again, is it perhaps bad luck to mention her by name rather than by euphenism?)

I agree that coiling is preferable to folding and/or knotting, at least for cables that are to be used and stored repeatedly.

I'm not sure what kind of cable ties previous posters have in mind for keeping cables done up. Those that come with cables are usually the kind consisting of a thin steel wire inside a flat plastic strip, which I call "twisties". They are very convenient, but I try not to leave any lying round loose in my house lest my cats try to eat them, and the same with rubber bands.

I favour ty-wraps (which I think may be a brand name that has become generic, like "Hoover"): either the single-use kind or reusable ones like these.

Richard


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: GUEST,gust johnp
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 12:34 PM

I play in a little group called "string theory" but it doesn't seem to help when we plug things in as invariably we spend time trying to work out who is plugged into what and why it won't work. Needless to say we try to stick to acoustic stuff.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 06:07 PM

A strip (JumpStart) in my local comic section (and apparently widely distributed) has been exploring the attributes and proper methods of assault on the "sock-ness" monster, credibly extending the concept of an organized collusion of a vast conspiracy of monsters, gremlins, and other beings of apparently related sinister and malignant intent.

This strip has shown little progress in the developing of a generalized theory; but the simple ease with which additional entities needful of inclusion may be added quite certainly points to the need for a more robust attack on the problem. The simple listing of the various forms extant, and/or of the nearly unlimited guises in which a smaller and more coherent set of malignancies may appear, would appear to be a necessary first step not yet fully taken.

Given the many complex forms taken by the visible manifistations of these monsters, it is unlikely that a "string theory" - regardles of the number of super-dimensions - will be fully successful; but as yet noone appears to have developed an appropriate mathematical approach (well enough known for widespread application) for the analysis and useful extrapolation of hyperspace "kinkies." Since "strings" generally can connect only at "ends" whereas "kinkies" can connect anywhere along their multidimensional length, the superior complexity of a unified "kink" theory is easily visualized by any of us capable of thinking multi-dimensionally; but the analysis turns on too many twists and turns to be easily handled with present tools.

The inadequacy of the best known tools can be easily seen by the number of those of us here who are able to discuss "kinky" quite fluently; but alas - only in non-mathematical terms (so far as I've seen).

John


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 06:35 PM

Remember when electric extension cords and rope used to be neatly coiled, and then the end of the rope or wire neatly wrapped around the coil, sort of like a hangman's noose? Well, that's how I store microphone cables. I've heard that my wrapping can damage the thin wires in the cables, but I've never had a problem. Most of the cable problems I've had were with the connectors coming loose, chiefly from people stepping on them. The mini-XLR connectors seem to cause the biggest problem. Ralphie, does my method pass your coiling class?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Gurney
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 10:16 PM

Solutions:
1/ Coil them around the palm of your hand, and weave the last foot-or-so around and through the coil. Advantage: You can see the connectors easily. Disadvantage: you have to uncoil them carefully.

2/ Use twist-ties available from garden shops and supermarkets at tiny cost. Advantage: You can see the connectors. Disadvantage: You lost the twist tie, didn't you. And you can't remember where you put the pack of 973 unused ones, can you!

I store mine in three plastic bags, audio-computer-TV, and one day I will make the effort to have differently-coloured bags.....

Extension cords, the socket and the plug plug into themselves.
The one I carry in the van, I stretch it out and coil it neatly, and there is a loop of cord permanently tied at the plug end, which loops through the coil and holds it neatly. Never a problem.


If you think cable fairies are infuriating, don't tangle with the hosepipe storage fairy.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 11:30 PM

Avram Davidson, OBM, wrote a tale entitled "Or ALl the Seas With Oysters." It was anthologized in one of Judith Merrill's "Years Best SF" series. The premise is that saftety pins are the larval form of wire hangars, which, when fully developed, become bicycles. I see no reason that various electronic cables are not part of an analogous process.

When storing wires for my laptop and other equipment, I use the velcro ties which can be acquired from Staples and other office supply stores. The ones I use loop onto the wire so they cannot get lost. They are somewhat pricey but worth it.

After all, wire is really just metallic cordage and, when kinked, they lose conductivity and may break.


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: GUEST,Ian Gill
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 01:18 PM

Anyone else ever forgotten to unroll the big mains extension lead and had it start to act as a solenoid, melting into smelly [and dangerous] plastic lava halfway through the gig? How we didn't laugh that night...


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Bernard
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 01:25 PM

Aah... a mistake I would never make (because I'm aware of the physics involved)... but I've seen what happens when other people have done it!


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Apr 10 - 06:47 PM

Never done that myself - I do understand physics, but one know all turkey self (un)educated "Lighting Designer" (forever causing me grief!) once wound about 20 metres of 'left over length' of flexible extension main cable run feeding some theatre lights around the 2 inch diameter (G I water pipe!) lighting bar - put about 10 amps thru it...


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: eddie1
Date: 12 Apr 10 - 04:18 AM

The answer to all these problems is very simple. You only need to understand a little of the aspirations of the fairies who inhabit these assorted audio, audio-visual, computer and analogous cables. They, along with the fairies inhabiting wire coathangers and hosepipes, dream of becoming a Christmas tree lights fairy. Now you're talking tangles!
All these little barbs, hooks, clamps and clips to make the tangle impossible to untangle!

The solution is expensive! You must buy the fairy occupying each cable their very own set of Christmas tree lights and they will immediately desert their existing home and move in. You obviously cannot use the several tangled sets of lights, lying in boxes on top of cupboards, reminders of the times you have given up and bought a new set – they are already occupied!

The problem is, you now have these wonderful cables, each one straight as a die and untangled, which provide desirable residences for all the homeless fairies! Back to buying more Christmas lights!

I regret my solution is only temporary.

Eddie


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 12 Apr 10 - 05:23 AM

Message to Mr Offer.
You are indeed correct. The cables themselves are quite forgiving, even when buried under a hundred metres of mud, and various other brown substances for long periods of time (Viz, Glastonbury, Monsters of Rawk, etc!).
The connections at either end are what cause the potential problems.
Standard XLR connectors are pretty good, as are standard quarter inch jack plugs.
But, when it comes to smaller connectors, they should be treated the way you should treat a young lady on a first date....with the utmost respect!


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: Rowan
Date: 12 Apr 10 - 06:13 PM

When I played with Flying Pieman, we had access to the sort of reusable cable ties shown in Richard's link above; we used them for power leads, mic leads, speaker leads and even had some kept for the octopus cable. I still have a few left and guard them, as I've not seen any electronics shop in the last decade or so that even knows of their existence.

While I acknowledge that Joe Offer's technique works for ropes (up to about 10m) if you can hang the resultant coil I prefer the climber's method of coiling with an imitation whipping to keep the coil intact; I've had trailer and roofrack tiedowns kept intact like this for years without the ropes becoming difficult to deploy.

Some types of cable insulation make proper coiling difficult; hypalon seems infinitely flexible and is often used for scientific instrument cables. The copper in the internal conductor can work harden if coiling is not carefully done and knots of any sort (even Joe's relatively gentle version) should be avoided like the plague. Wrapping coils around your upper arm is deadly to the conductors and is a real no-no, as it continually imparts a twist that is never reversed.

Coiling so that every alternative loop is reversed in its direction ensures that a cast or walk to lay the cable out leaves it flat with no residual twist. You have to ensure you haven't inserted an end through the coil though, or you'll find an overhand knot for each pair of loops in the coil's length; this is basis for the sailor winning the knot-tying competition with the tailor for the maiden's hand so celebrated in folksong.

It can by a trying time when learning the technique but I use it for all leads, cables and ropes (even garden hoses), no matter how I secure the resultant coil, and I've taught novices in about 10 minutes.

But I also inherited a length of plywood shelf a couple of feet long and three inches deep; it had thin slots (3/16"?) cut into it every inch or so; when mounted high enough in the wardrobe it's perfect for hanging all those RCA leads and even the more recent computer cables and USB leads.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: tech: What is it with audio cables?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Apr 10 - 06:38 PM

After digging to a depth of three metres last year, Melbourne scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than a century ago.

A Sydney archaeologist dug to six metres, finding traces of 130 year old copper wire and concluded that NSW already had an advanced high-tech network 30 years earlier than Victorians.

One week later, the SA Minister for Information issued a media statement:

"After digging as deep as 10 metres in pasture near Tanunda, we have found absolutely nothing. This proves that 150 years ago, South Australia had already gone wireless."


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