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Power Distribution / cable management help
I am trying to figure out a better way to manage power distribution and the clutter of cables in our AV booth.
As I describe this situation, Im sure others should be able to identify with what we are facing.
We have a counter top that streches the entire length of the AV booth. On top of that counter we have a laptop, a 32 channel mixer, 2 video cameras on tripods, 1 video mixer, 1 lighting controller, 1 Flat Screen TV for monitoring, 2 LCD computer screens, keyboard and mouse, 1 DVD player, 1 DVD recorder, and RF Modulator (for sending video to the nursery). On the "window ledge" (mostly obstructing the view) are several wireless microphone receivers.
In a rack below the mixer we have a power conditioner, 2 power amps, graphic EQ, and a CD player. On the floor below the other side of the counter we have a PC (Tower), Matrox Dual-Head video adapter, VGA splitter, and a wireless router.
There are also GOBBS and GOBBS of cables and power cords EVERYWHERE (especially under the counter top). Everything mentioned (aside from the keyboard and mouse) have power cords. All the "sound" related stuff (mixer, power amps, cd player, etc...) are plugged into the power conditioner mounted in the rack.
There are 4 "quad" receptacleunder the counter top, with 3 power strips that we installed as we ran out of receptacles.
To compound things, the huge heavy VGA cables that run to the projectors were purchased too long and the excess is coiled up underneath the counter.
There is also the excess of 2 stage snakes which are coiled in a similar manner.
Of course, everything is interconnected with a web of speaker, ethernet, VGA, composite, component, USB, XLR, 1/4", 1/8", DMX, and MIDI cables which are strung EVERYWHERE and become increasingly difficult to trace everytime you add or swap out any equipment!
Does anyone have an good tips for adding some organization to all this?
I'm not a fan of all the power strips, and cables laying on the floor.
Sounds to me like it is time for an overhaul of the system! Personally the way I "clean" in cases like this is to literally unhook every wire possible, take everything that isn't bolted down out of the booth, and replace it all, wire by wire, piece of equipment by piece of equipment, cleaning and organizing as I go. You will be blown away by how many cables you have left over!!!
It takes a LONG time, but trust me, it is totally worth it! When we moved into our new building I did a work day that lasted 13 hours!
You can see my post describing that 13 hour work day here. (Note that the name of the post says it was 11 hours but it was actually 13!)
One thing I did that may help you:
Outside of that just get creative! Grab a cardboard box and stuff all of your "extra" VGA and snake coils into it. At least this way it can act as a foot rest! Things like that will help organize everything while keeping everything clean and up-to-date.
EDIT: Turns out that while CMN cached the smaller "thumbnails" of the photos from my post above the original files had been deleted off of my Dropbox. I have gone back and uploaded the original files so that when you click on a picture you get the full original file. Note that these are now FULL ORIGINAL photos, not edited, so some don't have the same cropping as the thumbnail, and they are much larger than even I would usually link to (they are mostly in the 3-5MB range), but at least they are there!
I agree. Periodically I have to just unplug everything, untangle all of the cables, vacuum out the dirt and dust, and then start from scratch.
As far as the coiled up projector cables go, I'd recommend rolling up the excess in the ceiling and securing them only leaving just enough leading to the booth. Same with the snake- If it's going across the ceiling, then roll it up there or take the excess back to the stage.
Secondly get a big bag of plastic zip ties. They are very cheap at an electrical supply warehouse. You will probably go through 200 or more because what you will have to start doing is strapping your wires to the wall or to the rack in order to make them neat. When it's all said and done, you will probably only have about 40 to 50 ties in place but the other ties are going to be used to hold the wires as you start to manage them and make them neater.
This is referred to as "dressing" the rack. Typically you will use the first run of zip ties to get the wires to where you need them to be, then your second run will make them nice and neat. Then you will go back and cut off the first run of ties.
The best way to attach a zip tie to the wall is to use one of those 1" stick backed mounts.. HOWEVER, make sure you put a screw through it and that the screw goes through a piece of wood. Typically people will stick those zip tie mounts to the wall and they will fall off in a week or so.. so be sure to screw it in.
AVOID VIDEO THEFT! Convert over to Betamax!
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Esoteric (Saturday, August 18th, 2012)
After running more than my share of cables under counters I found these
They're called bridle rings and you can stick them anywhere that has some wood to hold cables. They come in several sizes and make quick work of jobs like this.
+1 vote for the "take things completely out and do it properly" suggestion.
Design your layout of equipment so that it is easy to use and minimises cable runs between equipment.
We then position all of the equipment in the A/V area and make up bespoke cables to link each piece of equipment together. We avoid like the plague introducing adapters - so we use the correct plugs and sockets on each end of the cables. The cables are long enough to allow us to remove a piece of equipment for subsequent easy servicing and repair/replacement - but not too long that the cables drape everywhere.
Don't forget to use colour coded XLRs or jacks and label each end of each cable for later identification.
We have then fixed power distribution points where they are needed. Some large plastic cable trunking fixed to the wooden desks and shelves allows the cables to be hidden and finishes the job off nicely.
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Esoteric (Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012)
Label, label label. Label both ends and every junction point of every cable. Bundle cables by kinds (so that you don't have to plow through 32 XLRs to get the to the power cable for the computer).
Esoteric Visions Lighting and Video
A/V/L designers, installers, and integrators for churches. 15+ years of industry experience.