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How To Tidy Computer Power Lead Spaghetti
engine




msg:3827982
 5:41 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

As part of my New Year clearout, i'm planning on tidying up the power lead spaghetti under the desks. It started tidy, but now that I added various products that require their own PSU, it now looks a complete mess.

I plan to change all the power distrubution points for better, surge protected, multi-point units, and add a few auto shut-down power sockets. You know the sort, the ones that supply power to their child sockets only while the computer is on.

I've also to consider which devices require power from the various UPS units.

Now i'm thinking of it, i'm pretty sure I can eliminate some of the wasted power driving power bricks doing nothing while the machines are off.

I've drawn a flowchart adding all the products that require power, and where they are connected, and it's surprised me how many power bricks I have connected. While it's under the desk, it's out of mind.
Once i'm satisfied with the flowchart, i'll acquire the various power distribution outlets.

Before I do so, have you any other tips and ideas to cut down on the power spaghetti?

 

jdMorgan




msg:3828010
 6:32 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

1) Do not use filtered or surge-protected power strips on the inputs or outputs of UPS devices; Doing so can set up a "ring oscillator" and result in unstable UPS operation and greatly-diminished surge protection. Some UPS user's manuals warn about this, but others don't.

I use "garage shop" unfiltered strips for this application. You can even mount these across the back of your desk if you like, to keep the majority of power wires up off the floor and provide power sockets across the entire back of the desk.

I use two such strips in most cases: Switched raw power and unswitched filtered/backed-up UPS output power. Sometimes I'll also add a third unswitched raw power strip if there are lots of lamps, pencil sharpeners, shredders, etc. on the table or desk.

A warning that most UPS user's manuals *do* include is not to plug laser-type printers into the UPS unless it is a very-high-capacity enterprise-class UPS. The laser-type printers draw a lot of power, so consider whether they really need to have uninterruptable power.

2) I use eye hooks along the back edge of my desks, and Velcro loops tying the wires together and to those eye hooks. This routes the wires neatly and keeps most of them up off the floor, making it a lot easier to sweep/clean under the desk, as well as keeping the wires organized. There are also tech-industry-specific plastic "wiring tray" products on the market for even easier use than the Velcro loops.

The result is that only the power wires and Ethernet cables come down off the desk, and I also tie those two groups with the Velcro loops so they don't flop around.

All of this works best if you can leave enough room to get behind the desk to re-configure things if/as needed.

Jim

jimbeetle




msg:3828018
 6:54 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

eye hooks

Duh, duh and triple duh! I've been looking for a simple, home office type wiring tray and guess I got a bit too focused to see the obvious.

As JD, most of my outlets are mounted to my workstation (wheeled) so I don't have to deal with too much spaghetti if I need to roll it out.

Best suggestion: Get a label maker. No more "Is this the plug?"

wheel




msg:3828113
 9:50 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Get a label maker. No more "Is this the plug?"

Dude, that is not right. You're suggesting we have nice tidy eye hooks with cords running the right way into a UPS, all neatly labelled under the desk? Good grief!

If I yank on one power cord, I want them to ALL move. And if there's not enough room under my desk for all the cabling, well, I'll just by a bigger desk thank you very much.

jimbeetle




msg:3828123
 10:12 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

He, he, he.

I had to get organized. I live and work in very limited space. Prior to my last spruce up, in order to get behind my work desk I had to move at least five other pieces of furniture. And then it was always Oops, forgot the USB cable to this thingy. Rinse. Repeat. Couldn't take it any longer. Still not the best, but at least I don't have to move two armoires (or whatever the heck they're called), to plug in a new piece of kit.

skipfactor




msg:3828167
 11:18 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Great thread; got some ideas & I'm almost motivated for an overhaul. :)

For brick clutter, I swiped an old square wicker thing my wife used to keep pillows/blankets in. It has a swing open top and a raised floor. I hole-sawed a 3-inch hole in the floor, ran one spider power-strip, and toss all the bricks in the basket, and put a printer on top of it.

In one room, to get rid of noise and spaghetti, I put the PC, printer, etc. in a closet and hole-sawed a ~1-inch hole through the wall for the monitor (cable) on the desk in the main room (wireless keybd/mouse or run a long usb wire). Now it's a silent, spaghetti-free zone in that room but anything goes in the closet.

engine




msg:3828375
 11:46 am on Jan 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes, great ideas, thanks.

BTW, I wouldn't run filtered or surge-protected distribution strips on the UPS. The UPS itself should provide all the protection needed on the output.

Luckily, there's good access under the desks. I'm not going to make holes in the desk to put eye hooks, but i'm sure the DIY store will have something less intrusive.

vincevincevince




msg:3828439
 2:46 pm on Jan 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Take a look at the output of the power bricks; if you have a few which are the same you can usually get a single unit to replace them.

piatkow




msg:3828441
 2:59 pm on Jan 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Worst wiring spaghetti story that I know was an engineer pulling out a loose underfloor wire in a computer room and pulled out two plugs. It was a Tandem system, I am not a Tandem expert but I understand that it is "non-stop" unless one particular pair of servers go down at once. Guess which two came out?

I have a label maker for garden use and never get around to taking it upstairs and labelling the plugs. I did have all the wires neatly clipped to the frame of the desk with cable ties and then had the delicate job of cutting the ties again when I replaced a couple of pieces of kit.

g1smd




msg:3829046
 8:25 pm on Jan 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you use trailing sockets, use the 6-way trailing leads, not the 4-way; more space for adding stuff.

Drill the desk (at the back) so that cables go directly to where they need to go.

Label all the plugs and power bricks with what they are for; including Make and Model if necessary.

Some cables I shorten to the length they need to be plus just enough to pull units out for inspection.

One six-way block holds power units for rarely used items, and the whole block is left off until something is needed.

For a cable that is too long, coil up or bunch the excess into a loop, and tie off. DO NOT do this for mains cabling (fire risk!) or for cables that would cause interference to the signal inside them.

Keep audio leads away from mains leads and from old-style monitors (magnetic fields inject hum).

mack




msg:3829126
 11:27 pm on Jan 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

We have just finished doing somethign similar. The biggest problem I had was the mass of cables and wires under and behind the desk, so im typical me fassion I got rid of the desk. What I did was fit a 22" LCD on a wall mount right in front of where I sit. I then got a small cabnet for the axtual PC to sit in. Heat was an issue so I had to basicaly drill the back plate until it looked like a seive :) for the actual cabeling I bought some plastic self adhesive trunking. Basicaly fits right into the wall, when youre cables are in place just snap the top piece on and it hides the wires.

The loss of a desk makes it a little bit less useful for day to day work, but this system is mainly for entertainment, music, movies, web, mail and games. I am starting to do more and more of my work on my laptop.

As it stands I have a recliner seat looking towards the wall mounted panel, cabnet infront to the left ciontaining PC and now use wireless KB and mouse. Also invested in a wifi printer so that can go in a different room. also have my speakers wall mounted to either side of the screen and no wires in sight.

Regardign eye hooks Neil, Homebase do self adhesive varients of this. They have a peal off back and you just fix them to the surface you want to secure the wire to. I havent used them, but they sound pretty good. They wont hold as well as the screw in version, but they arent bearing a lot of weight.

Mack.

httpwebwitch




msg:3829167
 1:20 am on Jan 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

sort of off-topic, but the other night there was a water main break (very very cold weather) and some homes were flooded. As I work in the basement it made me think that if I ever needed to recue my PC+peripherals from rising water (my equipment is near the floor!) I'd first have to untangle it all where it's knitted beind the desk like a big hairball of wires.

g1smd




msg:3829178
 1:37 am on Jan 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Make sure everything is on a small backup drive that you just need to pull one wire out and run.

grelmar




msg:3829260
 4:25 am on Jan 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Zip ties are horrid. You have to cut them to get the wire free again when you need to (and you'll need to sooner than you think), and you run the risk of cutting the wire itself when you do.

Go to your local fabric store and by a 10' roll of 1/2" wide double sided Velcro. Cut chunks to length to tie cables together, or strap cables to mounting points. You can quickly unbundle anything at need, and then tie it back up again quickly.

Make sure everything is on a small backup drive that you just need to pull one wire out and run.

So where do I get me a 10 terrabyte portable hard drive?

(I've digitized my entire video and audio collection - and the videos are all done with "quality is more important than compression" in mind).

rogerd




msg:3829553
 3:18 pm on Jan 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I like mounting the power strip off the floor. The back of the table or the wall serve equally well depending on the situation. The plugs are easier to reach, and you don't create a nesting area for the inevitable invasion of dust bunnies on the floor. Cable ties, twisties, or velcro strips keep excess wire bundled neatly.

travelin cat




msg:3829768
 7:50 pm on Jan 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Velcro is the way to go. Easily removed and highly configurable.

Like httpwebwitch, we are in a basement on a hill. Because of this, any flooding would enter the office, so all cables, ups's, devices and anything that carries a current is mounted either above the desk or on it. Nothing touches the floor.

Hugene




msg:3830362
 3:05 pm on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Really interesting thread, it's very rare to see such topics treated, and the most interesting is the descriptions of the imaginative ways people have come up with.

My 2 cents, get rid of ethernet cable by putting in wifi cards in all PCs. For damage hazards, keep a back-up external hard disk in another physical location altogether.

Shaddows




msg:3831118
 9:27 am on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

get rid of ethernet cable by putting in wifi cards in all PC

Hold on there. Sacrafice 10/100 (possibly gigabit) connectivity per connection for 54Mbps (theoretical- 15Mbps actual on a GOOD day) SHARED throughput?

What about security, with rogue access points and some products STILL stuck with WEP?

And haven't the States just made it illeagal to handle card transactions on a network that contains WiFi? (I'm in the UK, so excuse my ignorance).

<joke>And, what about all that wireless radiation. Its killing our kids. Did you not watch the Panarama special (apologies for the international audience for the UK cultural ref)</joke>

Company backup should include an up-to-date (pref synchronised) backup onsite. PLUS a disaster recovery copy offsite, updated at least weekly and preferably daily.

Work-from-home types should really have a weekly backup away from their PC, and their actual work protected from drive failure using either RAID 1/5/10 or synched portable hard-drive (or network storage in addition to local copy)

engine




msg:3831206
 12:41 pm on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the excellent tips.

I have acquired a new label maker for permanent identification of all leads (at either end) and lebelling power bricks.

I'll be paying a visit to the DIY store this weekend to explore the suitable power lead supports and trays. Something I discovered last year was to look for supports and cable tray/pipes in the plumbing department as well as the electrical dept. The plumbing products were cheaper than the electrical products and they did exactly the same job.

I won't be using WiFi for the computer-to-computer communications, but will continue using the Ethernet cables.

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