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[CQ-Contest] Contest Station Design - cable management

Subject: [CQ-Contest] Contest Station Design - cable management
From: eric@k3na.org (Eric Scace)
Date: Wed Jan 24 21:27:05 2001
Some opinions from my experience:

1.  Documentation is important.  This includes cable labeling and a 
description of the station cabling systems.
2.  Label both ends of the cable.  I found it useful to include in the 
label on both ends:
    -- name of devices connected
    -- name of socket on each device (if more than one)
    -- name of device for which this end of the cable is applicable
    Example: "(this end) TS-940 ACC1 <--> TMC Amplifier #1 Keyline Input"
3.  For ports which have multi-pin connectors containing lots of control 
lines, I use a short multi-conductor pigtail that brings
the port out to a breakout screw-terminal strip.  Each needed control line 
can then be run separately from the screw terminal strip.
When you change transceivers (for example), it's a lot easier to reassemble 
pigtails that rewire the shack.  I label the screw
terminal strip as well.
4.  Lines between screw terminal strips are cut to length.  Pigtails to 
equipment are cut long enough to allow equipment to be
pulled out of the rack/desk, turned around/upside down, and maintained.
5.  I use lots of cable ties.  They are cheap in quantity -- a few cents 
each.  I bundle all RF cables carrying transmit-level
signals together separately from all other lines.  Cable ties can be 
anchored to the desk, wall, or floor by using little screw-down
"feet" that have slits which the cable tie slips through.  I've also used 
hidden cable trays, but that's getting pretty fancy.  I'm
not the least bit reluctant to cut off 50 cable ties (cost = $1) and 
replace them in order to change or add a cable to a bundle.
With care, cables can be assembled in the bundle so that each one runs 
straight and is not twisted around others.  When a bundle
gets large (more than 5-10 cables, depending on size), it's easier to use 
cable ties for sub-bundles of ~5-10 cables... and then
bind the whole collection of sub bundles together with a large fat cable 
tie (which you will need fewer of).
    The end result is two large snakes that wander around the shack in 
parallel (transmit RF coax, and all other lines), with little
arms that split off to terminal blocks... and one bundle of pigtails from 
each box contain control/power lines... and another bundle
carrying the RF lines.

-- Eric

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-cq-contest@contesting.com
[mailto:owner-cq-contest@contesting.com]On Behalf Of Pete Smith
Sent: 2001 January 23 Tue 23:35
To: cq-contest@contesting.com
Subject: [CQ-Contest] Contest Station Design - cable management

I'd like to tap the assembled wisdom of the group on this topic.  Since I
don't know how many others are interested, I suggest direct replies, and
I'll summarize for the reflector (just like the old days).

Contest stations are more complex than most, and innovations like SO2R make
the problem just that much tougher.   How do you manage the mess of
interconnecting wires and cables in your shack?  Do you try to cut each one
to length to fit your current setup (power cords excepted, maybe)?  If not,
what do you do with the additional length.  Do you use labeling, or
bundling by function to try to keep things under control?  Cable trays or
other mechanical devices? Is there anything that works particularly well
for you that you'd be willing to share?

73, Pete N4ZR
Contesting is!

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