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Author Topic: Solving the Rats Nest Problem  (Read 4303 times)
NT0A
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Posts: 97




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« on: January 09, 2012, 11:57:13 AM »

When my ham shack was limited to a Swan 500, a mic, a straight key, one power cord, and a 300 ohm twin lead out to an inverted V, cable/wire management was not a problem. Today is a different story. My ham shack contains the following all with their own wires, cables, and connectors:

Kenwood HF Station

    1.  TS-830S transceiver
    2.  MC-50 microphone
    3.  SM-220 monitor
    4.  VFO-230
    5.  SP-230
    6.  Donner Digital Interface
    7.  Homebrew ACC-Memory keyer
    8.  Brown Bros. Mach. Co. CTL-B combo paddles/straight key (shared with Icom HF station)
   10. Heathkit 5-position coax switch (shared with Icom HF station)
   11. Daiwa 2-position coax switch (shared with Icom HF station)
   12. Heathkit Cantenna (shared with Icom HF station)
   13. Homebrew Ultimate Transmatch (shared with Icom HF station)

Icom HF Station

    1.  IC-756 Pro III
    2.  PS-125
    3.  CT-17
    4.  SignaLink
    5.  Heil GM-4 microphone
    6.  Heil PL2T microphone boom
    7.  Heil 2-channel foot switch
    7.  QJE PS50SWIII DC power supply
    8.  MFJ-1126 DC Power outlet strip
    9.  Brown Bros. Mach. Co. CTL-B combo paddles/straight key (shared with Kenwood HF station)
   10. Heathkit 5-position coax switch (shared with Kenwood HF station)
   11. Daiwa 2-position coax switch (shared with Kenwood HF station)
   12. Heathkit Cantenna (shared with Kenwood HF station)
   13. Homebrew Ultimate Transmatch (shared with Kenwood HF station)

Miscellaneous Equipment

    1.  Tektronix dual trace oscilloscope
    2.  500 Mhz frequency counter
    3.  Windows 7 computer with all the "trimmings" such as a keyboard, etc.
    4.  Kamtronics KAM

That all adds up to a grand total of roughly 55 different cables and wires need to connect everything so that the station works as it is supposed to, probably not much different from most ham shacks. The problem is that no matter how carefully I try to bundle things together with those nice little plastic cable ties, it is a real rats nest. If I didn't know that inanimate object cannot move around when no one is looking, I'd swear that those cables are rearranging themselves in to braids and intertwinings that are next to impossible to untangle and absolutely thwart any attempt to follow a cable from one end to the other.

In the hundreds of thousands of hams who visit this web site on a regular basis, there's got to be someone much smarter than I who has solved the problem of the rats nest of cables found in the modern day ham shack. I implore whoever that person is to please step forward and sprinkle upon us some intelligent solutions that will free the rest of us lesser mortals from the morass that writhes behind our equipment.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 12:50:32 PM by NT0A » Logged
KB4MB
Member

Posts: 295




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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2012, 12:26:37 PM »

Well, the best solution is a cable cage like they do for wiring server rooms/data centers.  The cables go into the cage and exit where it needs to, with all of the excess in the cage.
http://footage.shutterstock.com/clip-409612-stock-footage-panning-on-frame-with-wires-in-server-room.html

So, if you were up to it to home brew, I would bring everything down into a large PVC pipe with 1/8 of it cut open and with exit/entry holes in it to slip the cable through.  Put the pipe horizontal to the back of the operating position with pipe hangers/clamps.  All cables route in there and then go through an entry/exit port if it has to another section of the desk.

As for interconnects, unless you build a large input/output patch panel, you are stuck there.  That is why most people who look like they have great setups are really just using large desk with hidden panels to hide that stuff, showing only the front of the equipment.
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KB9VGE
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Posts: 24




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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2012, 04:29:05 PM »

http://www.panduit.com/Products/ProductOverviews/WiringDuct/index.htm

Use separate raceways for power+RF vs low level signals.
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W5DQ
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Posts: 1209


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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2012, 08:32:28 AM »

But if you straighten and clean it all up, where will the rats live then? I proclaim this to be BKTR (Be Kind to Rats) Week!   Grin

And besides, you're not a real ham unless it looks like a pit of snakes behind your operating desk or console Wink

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
KB4MB
Member

Posts: 295




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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2012, 08:46:48 AM »

I've put off repairing a hole in the ceiling and repainting, just because I dread removing the equipment and its' wires (along with my computer setup)...  How long?  Three years. 
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KB9VGE
Member

Posts: 24




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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2012, 12:32:43 PM »

I've put off repairing a hole in the ceiling and repainting, just because I dread removing the equipment and its' wires (along with my computer setup)...  How long?  Three years. 

Ah.   Single, eh?
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KB4MB
Member

Posts: 295




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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2012, 01:01:11 PM »

Nah, but the wife knows how busy I am - we run a full time horse farm, and I have a 8-5 job.
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K1CJS
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Posts: 6045




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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2012, 05:11:37 AM »

There is a way around the rats nest problem, at least for me.  What I try to do is to just leave enough cable at the back of the desk to let me ease the individual rigs out from their position to disconnect them.  Each rig has its wires and cables bound together so that there is no chance of one wire dropping out and getting lost in back of the desk, and the bundles are tagged with the rig ID.  This also provides strain relief on the smaller cables and connectors to the rig.

All power (12 volts) is by Anderson connectors, even on the rigs that have connectors on the back of the rig.  AC power is by an outlet strip, and the excess cord is also bundled.

Yes, it takes planning and extra time, but I can be sure that when I pull a rig to use elsewhere or to check out, I can put it back and reconnect it with no worries about crossing connections.  I think its better to have five or six wire bundles coming down from the racks instead of individual wires that can drop out and go anywhere.  I also don't have to buy extra power connectors and cords for the rigs to use them elsewhere since Anderson connector setups are interchangeable.  The rig connector and a short power cord are always connected to the rig.
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