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Author Topic: Questions about audio snakes  (Read 19541 times)

Tommy Peel

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Re: Snake Wear and Tear...
« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2013, 02:55:08 pm »

Two things here. First you have to take the stress off the individual cables of the fan. If you don't have one of the Kellum's grips, the wire thing that looks like a Chinese finger puzzle made what looks like chicken wire on the snake then make something that you can secure to the main body of the snake so that that you can take the stress off the individual channels. Make sure that what you use spreads the load across a large area like the K grip rather than a single clamp that can crimp the snake and potentially damage the wires inside.  Second, make sure that when people are disconnecting the snake that they are pulling the connectors not the wires.

Almost forgot about this post... Anyway my snake does have a strain relief and we use it when feasible; most of the time the last 3rd or so of the snake is in a plastic tub under the mixer case so the strain relief doesn't really work but there's not much weight on the connectors in that case. Also our current mixer has the connectors facing down so they don't get bent over anymore(I think most of the damage occurred when the previous owner had it and when we first started using it with a top connector mixer). Anyway I'm doing what I can to prevent further damage but I'm worried it's going to start having problems. I guess I'll tape up the bad ones and plan on having to put new connectors on the snake at some point in the future.
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Nathan Vanderslice

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Re: Snake Wear and Tear...
« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2013, 07:41:33 pm »

Almost forgot about this post... Anyway my snake does have a strain relief and we use it when feasible; most of the time the last 3rd or so of the snake is in a plastic tub under the mixer case so the strain relief doesn't really work but there's not much weight on the connectors in that case. Also our current mixer has the connectors facing down so they don't get bent over anymore(I think most of the damage occurred when the previous owner had it and when we first started using it with a top connector mixer). Anyway I'm doing what I can to prevent further damage but I'm worried it's going to start having problems. I guess I'll tape up the bad ones and plan on having to put new connectors on the snake at some point in the future.

If it's the cables and not the connectors themselves, why not re-use the same connectors? The price of decent connectors will add up.
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Jerome Malsack

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Re: Questions about audio snakes
« Reply #32 on: October 20, 2013, 08:31:38 pm »

When I build up and repair on the fan of the snake I will use two heavy heat shrinks one on top of the other to keep the strain relief in the connector from getting to the wire and shields.  I also add a third layer for the heat shrink that is clear coated to allow my to insert the labels on two or three places.  I can use an ink jet and plain paper making labels and inserting under the clear.  in two or three locations  This last one is only about 8 to 12 inchs of 16 to 20 inch fan. 

If you want to make more rugged when working the clear coat add one clear plastic pipe from hardware to keep the wire from causing the kinks on top mixers and making them stiffer.  small 1/8 in plastic bending pipe??? 

My fanout snakes have only seen one channel fail in 5 seasons of work.   
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Snake Wear and Tear...
« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2013, 10:38:02 pm »

Almost forgot about this post... Anyway my snake does have a strain relief and we use it when feasible; most of the time the last 3rd or so of the snake is in a plastic tub under the mixer case so the strain relief doesn't really work but there's not much weight on the connectors in that case. Also our current mixer has the connectors facing down so they don't get bent over anymore(I think most of the damage occurred when the previous owner had it and when we first started using it with a top connector mixer). Anyway I'm doing what I can to prevent further damage but I'm worried it's going to start having problems. I guess I'll tape up the bad ones and plan on having to put new connectors on the snake at some point in the future.

You can "milk" the Kellems grip... just compress it lengthwise and have a helper slide the cable through.  You want the "bail" (the loop end) located so you can tie it off in a way that takes the hanging weight of whatever length of cable is below, and still reach the furthest connector on the mixer without strain.

As long as the strain relief in the XLRM is effective, the self weight of a couple feet of cable isn't a big deal.  If the strain relief is compromised (loose, missing, etc), any extra strain (pulling, sideways tension from trying to make it reach 'a little more') will eventually fail.  This is particularly true for snakes that are routinely patched and moved (bar gigs and portable churches).

That said, the ultimate failure is usually metal fatigue of the wire at the solder joint or crushed by the strain relief (some connectors are more prone than others).  Repetitive: motion, twisting and tight bending are the physical causes.  The connectors themselves probably do not require replacement, but the snake pair needs to be reterminated to the XLR.  Prep the snake wires, heat and remove the old solder & wire from the XLRM solder cups.  Confirm which colors go to what pin, and solder.  Using a cable tester, confirm a mic cable is correctly wired, and then connect it to the repaired channel's XLRF on the stage box, into the tester, and the repaired XLRM into the tester.  If everything is happy, reassemble the pin block into the connector shell and move on to the next channel.

Jerome's thoughts about clear plastic tubing is one that sounds good on paper but sucks in reality (been there, handled one, didn't like it).  It's probably more productive to accept that a connection failure on a fan out will happen eventually, and that you just fix it and move on.  Soldering isn't a big deal once you learn how, it's just not for the impatient.  Like paint, solder is mostly about the quality of the preparation and selecting the right tool for the job (tip size, shape, temperature).  Once you start efficiently making reliable solder joints, you'll wonder why it took you so long to learn.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Tommy Peel

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Re: Questions about audio snakes
« Reply #34 on: October 21, 2013, 12:00:00 pm »

If it's the cables and not the connectors themselves, why not re-use the same connectors? The price of decent connectors will add up.
I would do this but the connectors themselves aren't in very good shape(except for the one that I've already replaced) and they aren't the best quality connectors to begin with(Switchcraft knock offs) so an upgrade to Neutrik would be nice.
When I build up and repair on the fan of the snake I will use two heavy heat shrinks one on top of the other to keep the strain relief in the connector from getting to the wire and shields.  I also add a third layer for the heat shrink that is clear coated to allow my to insert the labels on two or three places.  I can use an ink jet and plain paper making labels and inserting under the clear.  in two or three locations  This last one is only about 8 to 12 inchs of 16 to 20 inch fan.   
I'll have to try the heat shrink on the cable; that seems like a good way to make them somewhat stronger.
You can "milk" the Kellems grip... just compress it lengthwise and have a helper slide the cable through.  You want the "bail" (the loop end) located so you can tie it off in a way that takes the hanging weight of whatever length of cable is below, and still reach the furthest connector on the mixer without strain.

As long as the strain relief in the XLRM is effective, the self weight of a couple feet of cable isn't a big deal.  If the strain relief is compromised (loose, missing, etc), any extra strain (pulling, sideways tension from trying to make it reach 'a little more') will eventually fail.  This is particularly true for snakes that are routinely patched and moved (bar gigs and portable churches).
I've moved the grip to the end of the snake right before the fanout which tends to be the most useful location, but usually there's only a couple of feet of cable pulling on the connectors so I don't use it most of the time. Most of the time when I use it I'm more concerned about someone tripping on the cable than the small amount of weight on the connectors.
Quote
That said, the ultimate failure is usually metal fatigue of the wire at the solder joint or crushed by the strain relief (some connectors are more prone than others).  Repetitive: motion, twisting and tight bending are the physical causes.  The connectors themselves probably do not require replacement, but the snake pair needs to be reterminated to the XLR.  Prep the snake wires, heat and remove the old solder & wire from the XLRM solder cups.  Confirm which colors go to what pin, and solder.  Using a cable tester, confirm a mic cable is correctly wired, and then connect it to the repaired channel's XLRF on the stage box, into the tester, and the repaired XLRM into the tester.  If everything is happy, reassemble the pin block into the connector shell and move on to the next channel.

Jerome's thoughts about clear plastic tubing is one that sounds good on paper but sucks in reality (been there, handled one, didn't like it).  It's probably more productive to accept that a connection failure on a fan out will happen eventually, and that you just fix it and move on.  Soldering isn't a big deal once you learn how, it's just not for the impatient.  Like paint, solder is mostly about the quality of the preparation and selecting the right tool for the job (tip size, shape, temperature).  Once you start efficiently making reliable solder joints, you'll wonder why it took you so long to learn.
I've already soldered some XLR connectors already to repair some Mic cables and one of the connectors on the snake in question. While I'm not an expert they've held up well enough so I'm not too worried about making the repairs. I'll probably wait till I start having problems with channels before I try to do anything about fixing it; right now it's still working but the cable near some of the connectors is starting to look damaged(outer insulation broken exposing the inner wires).
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Re: Questions about audio snakes
« Reply #34 on: October 21, 2013, 12:00:00 pm »


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