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winding & unwinding mic cable

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by audiokid, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    For 30 years I have been using the half wrap (end to end) where you put one end together with the other end, halving the length each time, but less 6" so the ends don't get into the last half. Repeat until the cable bundle is between two and three feet long and tie the whole thing into a simple yet loose knot. Put them all in a road case and done. To unwind, undo the knot and toss it out and it all unravels. I've only had 2 or 3 cables fail over all those years.

    I'm now using 100ft mic cable and this method isn't working so well for me. Bloody easy to get the rats nest with over 50ft.
    I'm thinking I should switch to the over / under? I do this with my shop air pressure hose's but have never been that good at it with mic cable. Seems to get into a mess with long runs, but I must just need practice.

    How are you winding long mic cable runs?
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Over/under. Note that I see many wrapping front/back and calling it over/under, but real over/under stacks the cable onto one side but loops with alternating clockwise/counter-clockwise twist, so you can pull one end out and it doesn't tangle. You can also over/under a cable that is connected at both ends to clean up runs. Velcro cable ties help keep things orderly.
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You do want to decide whether you are winding clockwise or counterclockwise. For me I wind clockwise because that was what my first sound crew did. If you hold in your left hand the initial connector points behind you and if you hold in your right hand the connector points in front. You just hold an end and throw it out and there should be no knots. Unless Don Knotts is there.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    ah, thanks for chiming in, I found this video that helped also.

  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    That's the idea. I don't use cable ties. I use those plastic ratchet clips. They come in all sizes. You can start either hand you just have to reverse the direction the connector points. My first day on a sound crew was laying all the cables and the 150M snake out on black asphalt in the San Diego sun and wrapping them over and over. Well several hours anyway. In fact, we did that several times a year-maybe four or five times, all hands on deck. The sun helped to relax any kinks and everyone got to practice. Remember that in the Corps personnel rotate frequently so there was always a Boot or two on the crew.
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Cable Tie Wraps Replaced by Patented New Clamp!

    I do mark the cables with colored electrical tape.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Thanks John,boulder

    How do you lay out 100'? Do you just walk and drop as you go?
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The first time you might walk and drop. Every other time you toss it out and rewrap it. The coils I leave at a mic stand base are coiled same same. If I have to pick up and move I just go with no worries.
  9. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    On shorter cables, I find letting the cable go to its natural shape - which I suppose in this terminology you would call over-over - is perfectly fine. The cable was born on a spool and going back to that coil shape is as natural as the fetal position. Quick and easy, but you'll notice as the far end comes sliding across the floor toward you that end has to rotate once for every coil. This is where you will benefit greatly from switching to the over-under technique on such a long cable. It will lay flat - which will be extremely important to you doing location recording. [nice and neat. no trip-hazards = no equipment damaged, nobody injured, and no lawsuits] But as the guy in the video suggests - if you're starting with the cable reasonably straight and stretched out to it's length, the far end should come right to you without the need to rotate because you're alternating the twist direction with the over and the under.

    For shorter cables, it's less of a factor - so you'll probably continue to 'fold' them up as you always have. [wince, shudder, cringe]

    I use the velcro ties for everything. [red for lighting, black for sound, makes sorting easier when I have help] Besides keeping things neat in transport, they can be fashioned a number of ways to provide strain-relief to help support a heavy bundle of cables at the mixer, or a rack, or more often in my case - a very heavy SO jacketed 10-gauge power cable that might fall out of a the well-worn receptacle.
  10. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    On my 16x4 100' snake I can usually just grab an end and pull it out of the case, if it's coiled properly. On smaller stuff you can usually throw it once you've got the twist evened out. Sometimes you just need to walk and drop around obstacles.
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    At least the fold method doesn't introduce twists in the cable, even if it does kink some cables. I use over/under on all cables just out of habit. The video is right - you have to be consistent about starting with the same end all the time. If not, you'll loop through, throw out the cable, and end up with a string of granny knots.
  12. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    The cables we usually use in the studio we reel up ond an emty powercord cable extension reel. We plug in the next XLR and go on reeling up the one after the other.
    When ever we need a cable we just pull it off the reel. There are no rat nests, curls, twists and the plugs are safe. There is one reel with shorter cables
    and another with longer. The largest ones with 15 meters are kept in the machine room, rolled up conventionally, since we don't use them very often.
    During all those years using reels I had only about 5 broken cables. Before that 10 times a much became flaky with microphony, shielding problems and defective plugs.
    No tips, here, for those 100 feet cables other then using a larger reel with wider inner diameter, like those I used for transporting hollow high-frequency wave guides from microwave
    radio relay mobile units, well, ..maybe somewhat smaller...lol...
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The reel is the real deal.

    Its in the works for this year to get one specifically for this. I have an old tray type of Anvil case for an amp I no longer have. The reels I've looked at will mount in the tray like the amp did. The top comes off , the cords come off the reel, the stage is set, the gig is over, the reel sets up in front, the cords wind on, the top clamps down, the box wheels into the trailer, no stretch,no kink, no problem.....Bob's yer uncle.

    I've been winding cords since 1968. I had a reel when I had a PA. Theres no substitute ....especially for long runs. The maintainence on the ends is half of manual winding and boxing or less!!!!!
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    All these years I never paid attention to how they were winding up all the long cables. I only worried about my sort runs and all the interconnect cables got tucked into the racks. S When I looked the the guys winding cable I never noticed they were doing an over/under. lol. I always thought is was a bad idea because of how I experienced them getting all twisted. See, never think you got it all figured out even after years.

    What reel options are out there?

    Winding over/under seems to be the better choice for smaller systems. Reels sound like a great idea for heavy gauge cable and/or really long run beyond 100', yes?.
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You can wind up a bunch of 25' or 50' cords on a real by connecting the ends together. There are some commercial made reels out there but honestly, you're as well off finding one locally. Honestly, enough damage to connectors and kinks from improper winding/storage sort of negates worrying about whether the cable is VoVox versus Canare. Of course, most road cables are not Canare or Mogami or anything more expensive either. It just isn't cost effective.

    Hannay Reels Hannay Reels - Reels On Wheels Cable Reels at Markertek.com
  16. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Reels are okay if you have so many cables you can have one reel for each length. If you have reels with mixed lengths they're kind of a pain.

    Proper over/under doesn't introduce twists, and if you pay attention you can wrap and unwrap from either end. The alternating pattern cancels out the twists, and there's no kinking because they aren't bent as tightly as folding. I used to fold exclusively and I can say that I had way more tangling with that method.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    exactly, and I will only be winding ten long runs. Hooking the ends up all together and pulling them into a reel doesn't sound too appealing to me. especially the last 1000' feet on either end when I may only want a 20' or vice versa. Its a cool idea though, but heavy and more touring concept than boutique.
  18. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    When I had reels, I connected them end to end like a continuous string. Then I just pulled off the cables one at a time. They are more geared towards long runs but work well if you have say 30 25' cables and 20 50' cables etc. I wouldn't use a reel for shorter than 25' myself.
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Man, I had an image of something more high tech than these and that they would be so big and on wheels. Full load weighing in at a few hundred pounds lol. And... look at the price of these. Yikes, I'm in the dark ages.

    Cable Reels Cable Accessories Cable, Connectors, Wire, Optical Accessories & Parts & Hardware from Full Compass

    I guess these would be a cool thing just for my 100' and my 50' cable. Dave, John, what did your reels look like? Do you still have them?
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    How do the cables look that start out on the empty reel and wouldn't you be confusing the memory of the cable by not keeping tits coil the same all the time? Here is another link as I was thinking about other types of reels. Online Catalogue

    I'm thinking the inherent inconsistency of the spool diameter as the cable coils isn't a great long term idea?

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