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Author Topic: Tricks to Unkink Long Cables?  (Read 4597 times)
NU9J
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« on: September 12, 2011, 04:39:06 PM »

I know everyone has had this problem, so there has GOT to be some trick to taking the kinks out of long (>= 100 ft.) coax runs right?
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~Philip
AC5UP
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2011, 05:58:14 PM »

If the cable is on the ground, sure... You walk a kink down to the nearest end, the cable twists 180 degrees, kink disappears.

But, the best thing you can do is to learn how to coil a cable like a cowboy coils a lariat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gedwWBon_-o (pay attention around 2:40 in)

One loop goes clockwise, next loop counterclockwise tucked inside the first. It's like a figure 8 stacked on itself with odd and even loops that cancel each other. Do it right and you can throw the cable and it will lay out flat with no kinks. Folks who know how to do this tend to work remote TV news and commercial production. Years ago I worked with a dude who owned a remote truck and if he ever caught you coiling a mic cable over your forearm he'd rip you a new one... And I'm not talking forearm.

Next time there's a big rodeo in town, stop by. If the wranglers don't know what you're talking about, the radio & TV guys will.
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W8ATA
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2011, 06:02:54 PM »

If you refer to a kink as in pulling on a loop and having it form a "permanent" malformation in the cable, that can ruin coax especially if it has foam as you may have changed the spacing between the conductor and the braid.  Also if the coax has a solid conductor it can be permanent. Gently do your best and then check it with test equipment. Most kinks can be avoided by gently pulling while someone else feeds it.

73 and good luck,

Russ
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NU9J
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2011, 06:07:24 PM »

No, I don't mean malformations in the cable. I mean the way the cable twists up on itself like a rubber band in those toy wind-up planes. The tip on winding like a lasso was a good one so I can prevent it in the future. But, with this one cable, I am guessing that it may be twisted along the radial axis about 10-20 times, causing loops and kinks that are really hard to walk down the 100ft. length.
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~Philip
NU9J
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2011, 07:25:44 PM »

I believe this is a more informative and compact version of the lasso video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j1Wdc-ymbI
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~Philip
K1CJS
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2011, 04:14:21 AM »

The best way to 'unkink' a long coax cable is to a place where you can uncoil it and lay it out.  Every place that it is twisted can be worked out gradually until it isn't kinked anymore.  Then you can recoil it using the lasso method, or use an extension cord reel that you can buy at most any store to wind the cable onto.

My 'portable' coax cables are all 50 ft. lengths or less specifically to avoid that problem, and if I need a longer coax, I carry a couple of the SO239 barrel connectors to connect them together.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2011, 06:20:10 AM »

I just went through this.  I had "help" packing up this past Field Day and someone wound up my long chunk of RG-8X on their arm and tossed it in a box.  I laid it out on the lawn and started coiling, and as I went I'd twist the coil about the cable axis as needed to get the "extra" twist out.  Wasn't too hard at all.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K7KBN
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2011, 07:23:13 AM »

Most standard-sized vacuum cleaners that don't have retractable power cords have two large hooks around which you wind the cord when you're done with the machine.  My mom would always wrap the cord in a long, skinny figure 8, explaining that she learned that from her own mother and never had to untangle the cord.  I've been using the same technique with my own vacuums - and coax and other cables for pretty much all my life and I've yet to find a kink.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
WB2WIK
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2011, 09:29:41 AM »

To prevent kinking as described, I always "spool out" cable from a coil and never just grab an end and pull.

If you treat it like water hose that you do not want to kink, coax will work the same way.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2011, 09:42:32 AM »

If you do get a cable kinked up.... try starting in the middle of it and work the kinks out to each end.  Better yet, if you have help put someone in the center of the cable and then go to one end and untwist it the come back to the center and walk the cable to the end smoothing it out.

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M5AEO
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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2011, 01:34:57 PM »

I remember as a trainee at the BBC we had a whole morning lesson on how to coil cables!  It's a serious business when dealing with expensive audio or RF cables.  The basic lesson was that it takes a lot of time and care, and NEVER wrap it round your elbow!  Having enough space to lay out the cable is key to success , and then gently loop it back on itself. Patience is the answer.

M5AEO.

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WB6RXG
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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2011, 03:46:01 PM »

When I worked in the broadcast industry I was taught how to "butterfly" a cable by a retired Navy Master Chief.  It's the same method as described in the videos above.

It is a method I still use with my cables.

73,
Stuart
WB6RXG
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W8JI
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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2011, 09:05:44 AM »

You can wrap it around your hand and elbow so long as the cable is free to rotate as you wind it.

When the cable is impeded from being able to spin as wound, then you have to use special methods.
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W4VR
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« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2011, 11:42:52 AM »

I unroll my coax on the ground, let it lay there for a few days and it flattens out by itself....even with 9913.  I don't bury my coax...I let it sit on the grass after a lawn mow and in a couple of weeks the grass grows around the cable.  I recently tried to pull a section of coax that had been in the grass for a few years...the grass and dirt came up with it.
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NU9J
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2011, 11:56:56 AM »

I unroll my coax on the ground, let it lay there for a few days and it flattens out by itself...

What evil magic is this???
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~Philip
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