Cable Management

Discussion in 'TASCAM DM-3200 & DM-4800' started by Peter Batah, Jan 3, 2021.

  1. Peter Batah

    Peter Batah Well-Known Member

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    Good day all.

    I want to stay organized and am looking for a way to label the spaghetti bowl of cables that are located at the back of our desks / consoles. Needless to stress how helpful this would be when attempting to identify a specific cable at a quick glance. I probably can go the way of the Dymo label maker but was hoping to stay away from applying any glue to the actual cable.

    I was wondering what system that some / most of you are using, if any.

    Have a safe and pleasant day!

    Peter
  2. Arjan P

    Arjan P Veteran

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    For me it's quite simple: Mic Inputs 1-16 are wired directly to recording room locations and are made of aviation spec wiring. Everything else are Hosa multi-cables going to patch panels that are nicely labeled with the particular connection.. For inserts I use a Fostex 3013 patch bay and for line inputs, aux sends etc. I use Neutrik NYS-SPP-L1 patch bays (since these are balanced).

    TBH, I did also label the cables going into the patch bays: I usually put the label around the connector. If needed, these can be removed and cleaned easier for re-use than sticking them around the cable itself.
  3. Peter Batah

    Peter Batah Well-Known Member

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    @Arjan P Thanks so much for the prompt reply. Actually, now that you mention it, the Digiflex 16x4 that I have plugged into the first 16 M/L inputs are numbered. So is the Hosa XLR-803 XLR3F to XLR3M Balanced Snake that goes from my ART XLR 16 CH PATCH BAY to M/L inputs 17 thru 25. I suppose that I will simply use the Dymo labels for the rest. Your suggestion about affixing them to the connector is perfect. If I really want them to be visible I could resort to my trusty Dymo label maker. I'm sure that if I had to remove the label from the rubber sleeve, a little WD-40 would do the job. My next question has to do with seating (rolling office chair to be precise) I'll start a new thread. Have a safe and pleasant day!
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  4. skier

    skier Well-Known Member

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    Hey Peter, in my engineering work over the years, I’ve tried a great many things. I’ve concluded that there’s truly no way to avoid label glue completely, except for the wire markers that are made to spin on the cable because they have no glue for a specific section of the label. They work fine when labeling multiple conductors in a loom because the labels can’t slip below the first binding of the loom. Otherwise, they usually drop to the conductors lowest point making it a real pain. As a result, I now just stick the labels to the cable a few inches from the connector. Whether on the cable or the connector, there will be glue if you remove the label and you’ll likely want to clean it off. However, I’ve also found that most labels will not need to be changed very often, if at all. So glue is less of a real problem than we think unless we’re often re-purposing cables.

    I use a commercial labeler made by Brady that I bought for my work to label all kinds of copper and fiber cables, panels, etc. It's around $100 U.S. and the label cartridges are $25 for 5 meters of label - not cheap, but they are professional, provide upper and lower case, symbols, etc. Symbols allow me to keep label text shorter, such as by using the Greek letter phi for the phase of a power lead (e.g. “AØ”) instead of typing “Phase A”. Also, once labeled, you won’t usually be making many changes.

    Equally important is what labeling convention you’re going to use. For example, do you label the plug with its function (e.g. “Left channel Reverb”), the device to which that end connects (e.g. “DM Aux 1”), the far end so you know to what it connects (e.g. “Left - Lexicon PCM96”) or something else? I’ve created a hybrid form for myself that gives me the close end first followed by the far end (e.g. Left-Lexicon/DM Aux1”). So this tells me that this end of the connector goes into the left channel of the reverb and is connected to Aux 1 on the DM at the other end. It has worked well for me and I’ve created my own set of abbreviations. I also use this approach at my client’s sites by specifying it in the plans for the technicians to implement. In bigger installations, there will be multiples of the same devices, such as several or many Ethernet switches, routers, RTUs, etc., and that helps you to know what you want to do with the close end when you have a bunch of cables in your hands to connect that come from many devices at many locations on the far end. Often times, you don’t even need to have a diagram or cable tables with you using this method.

    As for changing routing, it’s really a personal thing. I used to use a number of patchbays, but these days, I do most routing via the DM and use only a few bays for external connections, such as for adding mics, plugging in headphones, and connecting external equipment that isn’t permanent. Otherwise, all of my routing and re-routing is done through the DM. That also provides me with an easy method to change protocols, say from line level to ADAT, or to AES, etc.

    All the foregoing notwithstanding, I’m dealing with complicated setups for the bigger clients and I don’t have this kind of complexity in my studio, and I suspect most of us don’t either. But I wanted to present enough options here so you can think about it and decide what you feel will work best in your studio and possibly even create your own labeling convention that augment the way you like to work.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
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  5. Phil Tipping

    Phil Tipping Moderator Staff Member

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    Beware of Dymo marker machines which use thermal printing onto reels of paper or plastic. I found the printing faded after a year or so.
    I went through a few stick-on options but they all made a mess over time. Avoid masking tape like the plague as the glue degenerates into a horrible gooey mess; Sticky-Stuff remover is a god-send!
    The best, albeit crude, solution I found is to hand-write onto white cables with a black fine-tip permanent marker pen.
    Agree with Skier re. adopting a naming convention. I also write the length of the cable at both ends.
    If you have a lot of cables and don't use snakes, don't get caught out by the cable weight; I ended up with this.
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  6. Peter Batah

    Peter Batah Well-Known Member

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    @Phil Tipping Thank you for chiming in. Much appreciated. That is a very clever system you have devised there Phil.
  7. Peter Batah

    Peter Batah Well-Known Member

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  8. Arjan P

    Arjan P Veteran

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    Another way of cable identification that I use(d) much (also professionally in aviation) is shrink sleeve. White shrink sleeve is great for this, with black permanent marker - but ofcourse you can use multiple colors for functional cable groups. You don't have to shrink it allover, just enough to keep it in place (or it will slide down to the lowest cable point). One issue with shrink sleeve though is that it works best with cables you are producing yourself, since the best fit won't slide over connectors (certainly not the XLR ones)..

    As a naming convention I use the 'most fixed' side as the cables name - meaning the side of the cable that is least likely to change position. So let's say I have a cable connected to Aux Send 1 of the DM, the name on both sides will be DM ASN 1. For a CD-player, the names would be CD OUT L and CD OUT R etc etc..
  9. skier

    skier Well-Known Member

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    Below is a link to Brady's wire and cable labels. They include shrink sleeves like Arjan mentioned, as well tags, flags, and the Print on Hook, which I like, but can get expensive if you need lots. I don't know whether or not you're going to use any of these, but it's nice to know about them should you want to go this route in the future. Here's the link:

    https://www.bradyid.com/wire-cable-labels

    I definitely agree with Phil regarding masking tape, and I'll add to that not to you clear, plastic tape (often called "scotch tape" because it's the most famous brand) - I tried both many years ago and they make every bit of the mess Phil described.

    Similarly, using but not shrinking a sleeve as Arjan mentioned is often done, but that only makes sense if there's something right below on the cable to stop the sleeve from sliding to the cable's lowest point, like the binding on a wire loom. They are often not shrink in those cases because they can be easily turned to be viewed from any angle, which can be important in tight, dark quarters inside an equipment or wiring cabinet. If you can see the cable from different angles, shrinking the sleeve will make it stay put.

    Whichever method you use to label your cables and whatever naming convention you use, give it a little thought so it will work well for you. There's no one right way and is very much like the sound of an instrument you record, or even the sound of the song itself and whatever is highlighted or distorted, - if you really like it and it works, then it's right.
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  10. Peter Batah

    Peter Batah Well-Known Member

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    Thank you both(all) for the immensely informative replies. I can't tell you how much I value your input and the fact that you take the time to share your experience and knowledge with me. Have a great week all.
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  11. Peter Batah

    Peter Batah Well-Known Member

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    @skier I visited the Brady Wire and Cable site. I barely scratched the surface. Is there nothing that these folks have not thought about. Simply amazing. Thank you for the link Jerry. Much appreciated.
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  12. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    As a manufacturing and broadcast engineer, there isn't any of these proposed solutions that I haven't implemented, either on the production floor making customer cables, or building facilities. You guys have all outlined the most excellent solutions. What I find the real issue to be is - how permanent is your installation? i. e. how likely are you to reuse cabling and need to change the designations? Probably the least invasive marking system is to use a tie-wrap with a tag. Just snip it off and the cable is pristine. I like those simple letter/number marker tapes. You cut a small piece of each letter or number and wrap the cable. The downside is unless you take the time to spell things one letter at a time, you'll have to refer to a diagram. But they stay in place and can be read from any angle.
  13. Peter Batah

    Peter Batah Well-Known Member

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    @-mjk- I like your tie-wrap idea. All you would need then is a small cardboard tag with pre-cut hole (or not) to slip the tie-wrap into. Hmm, now you got me thinking, again! ;)
  14. Arjan P

    Arjan P Veteran

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    @Peter Batah There are tyraps (or tie-wraps?) on the market that already have a special label part. Google for 'label tyraps' and you'll see. Just an example here, they come in many forms:

    [​IMG]
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  15. Peter Batah

    Peter Batah Well-Known Member

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  16. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    The spelling does matter when searching, lol. Not only the tag, but as you can see, the color is useful too.

    Thanks for posting the photo @Arjan P :)
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