Computer wiring – eliminating chaos – part 2

The first attempt to improve access to the computer cables and to eliminate the wiring chaos worked fairly well for the easy access, but not so well on the eliminating chaos. Some valuable lessons were learnt, including to reduce the size of cable bundles and to split the bundles based on cable destination, to reduce the stress on connectors when desk or computer is moved.

This second attempt is a major improvement as it:

  • improves the rear cable management “rack”:
    • rigidity and strength – to support heavy cable bundles and pulling when moving.
    • space to get hands in to adjust wiring.
    • air flow.
    • by adding cable management at rear top of computer.
  • splits cables into three bundles:
      • local to the computer (USB, eSata and power for external disk drives).
      • to the desk.
      • to the wall.
  • included extra slack in the cable bundles.
  • used velcro for quick un/wrapping cable bundles.

Many of the improvements were made through the planning of what bundles go where and then bundling with velcro ties and good slack.  You can make big improvements, without the trolley and rear rack, by planning your cable bundles, adding slack and using easy cable wraps or ties. Also be prepared to have a make improvements or even redo completely, as you discover better ways to run the cables and bundles.

You might even have a computer case with holes or brackets where you can tie or add screws to support cable bundles and eliminate the need for the cable “rack”, although this does work better with smaller cable bundles.

The lessons learnt this time are to:

  • label both ends of each cable
  • have a labelling “standard”.
  • Resist adding ANY extra cables unless well labelled and documented, and even then resist as they add complexity and bundle weight and stiffness!!!
  • plan for change – you will refine and also just change, think about the common things you use and move.

It’s very surprising how often you forget which cable does what a few months later, even you think it is just so obvious when you do the wiring, so at a minimum label “this end” with what the “other end” is connected to – and this needs to be done on each end. If you can write up a table or spreadsheet or have custom software, then that is also very useful.

The outcome – was chaos eliminated?

Both computers now wheel out easily and the desk, which has one computer each end, can also easily be pulled out. A bonus is that this enables quick disconnect of the entire computer – you only have to unplug a couple of easy to find cables.

The real miracle is that the cables have not magically reverted to a horrible rats nest, despite adding and removing several devices and cables and even an overhaul to fix a failed fan.

The outcome is that chaos has at least been deferred long term, the final result is very pleasing !

Computer wiring – eliminating chaos.

Over the years I have seen many ideas on the web to help reduce cable chaos and made many of my own attempts to reduce or eliminate. My best attempts have created neat, tidy and largely hidden the cables, but very soon after, if not minutes later I always had add or remove a device or to take wall wart on a trip, or just rearrange, and the immediate wiring chaos that occurs is not desirable at all. Often my attempts were never even completed, as frustration at the bad results, lead to abandoning the attempt.

It also seems that all attempts are for fixed wiring that does not allow you to move the computer to easily get to the rear to make changes. I also am trying to overcome issue of heavy cables pulling on plugs & especially cards in motherboard slots.

First attempt was to add some swivel wheels to a flat board and use cheap power cord wrappers with some added bracing, which also keeps the computer on the trolley.

$2 Power-cord-wrapper  Computer trolley

The result was a definite improvement as the trolley for in/out easy access was great and the power cord holders provide fairly good cable management.

Computer trolley and cablesHowever there were a lot of lessons learnt:

  • plan which cables go into which bundle, for example cables that are entirely local to computer and cables that go from the computer to different destinations.
  • bundling can actually increase cable weight/pull on computer plugs – take care to include slack and support BOTH ends.
  • try hard not to twist cables around each or it becomes very difficult to remove cables.
  • use of cheap plastic bags ties are good, but not as quick to undo and reuse, and not much good for thicker cables/bundles.
  • power cord holders used where OK, but a bit flimsy for larger cable bundles and did not leave enough space to fit my large hands in.
  • had to undo angled brace on one side to open computer case!
  • next time buy a case with wheels.

The biggest issues were not enough room for easy access to change, too many cables bundled together and worst was wrong cables in wrong bundles severely restricted ability to move the trolley in/out for easy access.

However all this did lead to good ideas for improvement, which the next post on this topic will show were really successful.