Cable Management - Cable Prep
A little cable prep can go a long way towards keeping your work area tidy. Anytime you use more than a few cables, they can quickly become a tangled, jumbled mess. Using a few cable prep tools can keep cables safe, secure, and neat.
When lots of different cables are all hooked up right next to each other, it can be hard to remember where each cable goes. One of the simplest ways to keep track of each cable is with some simple labels. These labels come with templates and are on sheets the size of a standard piece of paper, allowing them to be printed on any standard printer. The individual labels are also available in multiple sizes to ensure a fit regardless of how thick or thin of a cable you have.
Electrical tape is another simple way to keep cables labeled. Some types of cables are available in multiple colors, but others might only be available in black or white. Having multiple colors of electrical tape handy can be useful for keeping different types of similarly same-colored cables color coded. It is also useful to have around in case you need electrical tape to repair a damaged cable.
Sometimes damage to a cable is more than a little electrical cable can fix, which is where a wire splice comes in for more extensive repairs. Wire splices are used to connect two bare wires together without needing to install any new connectors or adapters. Most of them are gel-filled to protect the bare wares from moisture or other damage. Typically, wire splices (also called buttsplices) are used with thinner wire, with a few special splice boxes also being available for ethernet cable.
Repairing cables may not even be a problem if you protect the cable ahead of time with something like TechFlex. TechFlex is a wire mesh that is stitched together similar to a fishing net. This gives TechFlex the ability to bend with the cable without breaking, unlike solid plastic. As an extra layer of protection, TechFlex helps protect cables from being stepped on or otherwise damaged.
Cable Safety Strip
If being stepped on is an area of concern, using a safety strip offers maximum protection for a floor cable. These “speed bumps” are made of thick rubber that acts like a tunnel for a cable to run through. A safety strip can be stepped on or rolled over with an office chair without risk of damaging the cable inside. Safety strips also have the bonus of preventing people from tripping over cables that have to be run across the floor.
Keeping a pre-made cable labeled and safe is great, but there are precautions that can be taken when a cable is still being assembled as well. Putting boots on the end of a cable is an easy way to keep them safe. Boots provide extra protection to the connector at the end of the cable, making them harder to damage and increasing the overall life of the cable. They are particularly useful on RJ45 ethernet cables where the boot protects the release tab and stops it from getting snagged on anything.
Heat shrink can also be used to protect the end of a cable. It is designed to add an extra layer of protection to a cable to protect it from harm. Heat shrink is put over a cable before being heated, which then shrinks the tubing to half of its original size to secure it to the cable. The size of heat shrink will be the radius before it shrinks. For example, if you have a ½” cable you would need to put 1” heat shrink on it since it shrinks to half the starting size. This extra layer of protection is particularly useful when a cable may be exposed to hazardous conditions, such as chemicals in a factory or weather conditions when a cable is outdoors.
Weatherproofing Sealant Tape
Since heat shrink is added to cable before assembly, it is not always an option when a cable needs to be protected from the elements. When a preexisting cable needs a little added protection, weatherproofing tape is the next best option. Weatherproofing tape is flexible, fuses to itself, and can withstand both extreme heat and extreme cold.