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Author Topic: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable  (Read 981 times)

Geri O'Neil

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Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« on: May 13, 2019, 02:54:16 pm »

I'm talking about the 48- to 54-channel snake cables that, over time, develop kinks and curls and eventually makes the cable almost unmanagable. The problem has happened with a couple of 25-ft whips with Ramlatch connectors built by me several years ago. It's the Rapco IJIS 64-channel snake cable and I installed the connectors, being very careful to make sure the individual conductors were cut the same length. Over the last two years, both 25ft whips have developed bad curls and kinks along the length of the cable. I've grown concerned that both cables would show strained conductors inside the Ramlatch shells, but all the slack I allowed for inside the shells is still there, nothing pulled tighter than anything else.

I've heard that this happens when a few of the conductors "shorten" or kink up inside the outer jacket of the cable, which makes sense. And I've seen both of these whips rolled up to go inside the stage racks, which makes for a very tight bundle and a practice that I outlawed around here a few years.

Could that be the cause of the kinking of the cable?

Is there a solution to this problem, other than removing one end and seeing if the cable can be straightened. out?

Is there a better cable to use than this Rapco cable? I don't think I've ever seen a blue Whirlwind cable with this issue.

I'm about to order cable of some kind and rebuild these two whips. All of the channels work in both whips, but it's very unsightly and impossible to roll up and store.

At my age and the condition of my hands and fingers, I'm positively dreading the very tedious job of crimping pins and assembling the connectors.

Thanx for any ideas. 
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Dan Mortensen

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Re: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2019, 03:33:22 pm »

I'm talking about the 48- to 54-channel snake cables that, over time, develop kinks and curls and eventually makes the cable almost unmanagable. The problem has happened with a couple of 25-ft whips with Ramlatch connectors built by me several years ago. It's the Rapco IJIS 64-channel snake cable and I installed the connectors, being very careful to make sure the individual conductors were cut the same length. Over the last two years, both 25ft whips have developed bad curls and kinks along the length of the cable. I've grown concerned that both cables would show strained conductors inside the Ramlatch shells, but all the slack I allowed for inside the shells is still there, nothing pulled tighter than anything else.

I've heard that this happens when a few of the conductors "shorten" or kink up inside the outer jacket of the cable, which makes sense. And I've seen both of these whips rolled up to go inside the stage racks, which makes for a very tight bundle and a practice that I outlawed around here a few years.

Could that be the cause of the kinking of the cable?

Is there a solution to this problem, other than removing one end and seeing if the cable can be straightened. out?

Is there a better cable to use than this Rapco cable? I don't think I've ever seen a blue Whirlwind cable with this issue.

I'm about to order cable of some kind and rebuild these two whips. All of the channels work in both whips, but it's very unsightly and impossible to roll up and store.

At my age and the condition of my hands and fingers, I'm positively dreading the very tedious job of crimping pins and assembling the connectors.

Thanx for any ideas.
Hi Geri,

Great to hear from you, although it's too bad that it's because of this problem.

I've had good luck reducing problems with problem cables by taping an AC cable to the cable, like 2" e-tape every 6" or less. That seems to stabilize the cable and make it more ruly, as opposed to unruly.

Note that I haven't had any twisty cables to solve, and I've always taped them when new so they didn't have a chance to get weird. I do have a TMB quad Ethernet cable with a ridiculously stiff jacket that I don't doubt would twist up if given the chance, but the taped AC has made it bearable to handle and minimized the twisting.

It's good that yours is showing no damage inside the connectors. Also, I feel like I've seen Rapco's of many types with twisting, although my exposure to them is minimal. I've not bought Rapco anything because of seeing that.

Good luck, HTH.
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Lee Buckalew

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Re: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2019, 04:25:12 pm »

I'm talking about the 48- to 54-channel snake cables that, over time, develop kinks and curls and eventually makes the cable almost unmanagable. The problem has happened with a couple of 25-ft whips with Ramlatch connectors built by me several years ago. It's the Rapco IJIS 64-channel snake cable and I installed the connectors, being very careful to make sure the individual conductors were cut the same length. Over the last two years, both 25ft whips have developed bad curls and kinks along the length of the cable. I've grown concerned that both cables would show strained conductors inside the Ramlatch shells, but all the slack I allowed for inside the shells is still there, nothing pulled tighter than anything else.

I've heard that this happens when a few of the conductors "shorten" or kink up inside the outer jacket of the cable, which makes sense. And I've seen both of these whips rolled up to go inside the stage racks, which makes for a very tight bundle and a practice that I outlawed around here a few years.

Could that be the cause of the kinking of the cable?

Is there a solution to this problem, other than removing one end and seeing if the cable can be straightened. out?

Is there a better cable to use than this Rapco cable? I don't think I've ever seen a blue Whirlwind cable with this issue.

I'm about to order cable of some kind and rebuild these two whips. All of the channels work in both whips, but it's very unsightly and impossible to roll up and store.

At my age and the condition of my hands and fingers, I'm positively dreading the very tedious job of crimping pins and assembling the connectors.

Thanx for any ideas.

I have seen this happen when the snake cable was not coiled and stored as an over/under, figure 8, wind.  When the cable is simply coiled and then pulled out the individual pairs within the snake twist within the overall jacket.  Because of this the pairs begin to have different apparent lengths and they also tend to make the overall snake begin to resemble a coiled cord (like as telephone handset or a coiled headphone cable).

I have seen 150' snakes that had some pairs as much as 6' shorter than other pairs at the fantail end.  If the strain relief is not good enough at the stage box end the cables will break.  In a snake that is multipin to multipin I would also expect broken pairs.

I have never found a fix to this once it was started. The only way that I have found to keep them in good shape is to wrap them correctly from the beginning or store them on a reel.

Lee
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Andrew Broughton

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Re: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2019, 04:35:53 pm »

I still feel it's a manufacturing issue, not a coiling issue.


See: https://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,170868.msg1574339.html#msg1574339
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2019, 05:21:38 pm »

I still feel it's a manufacturing issue, not a coiling issue.


See: https://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,170868.msg1574339.html#msg1574339

We've had brand new, name brand AC cable get twisted under the outer jacket - it was a rental to a university dance program (moving lights) and rather than pay the Uni crew the dancers "coiled" the cables, much of it using the over-arm wind.  We tried the "lay in direct sun and stretch" method and it didn't help.

I've had Belden multipair cable do this, from AWG22 to AWG10.  The only brand I've not had this happen on was Whirlwind, and that's because we don't own Whirlwind snakes... and while I've seen it on the blue stuff I can only guess to the amount of effort and determination it took to fight the cable memory.

I think this can happen to any multiconductor cable regardless of who made it.  Some may require more determination than others but I'm in agreement with Lee B.

« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 12:49:07 am by Tim McCulloch »
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Geri O'Neil

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Re: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2019, 12:02:58 am »

Hi Geri,

Great to hear from you, although it's too bad that it's because of this problem.

I've had good luck reducing problems with problem cables by taping an AC cable to the cable, like 2" e-tape every 6" or less. That seems to stabilize the cable and make it more ruly, as opposed to unruly.

Note that I haven't had any twisty cables to solve, and I've always taped them when new so they didn't have a chance to get weird. I do have a TMB quad Ethernet cable with a ridiculously stiff jacket that I don't doubt would twist up if given the chance, but the taped AC has made it bearable to handle and minimized the twisting.

It's good that yours is showing no damage inside the connectors. Also, I feel like I've seen Rapco's of many types with twisting, although my exposure to them is minimal. I've not bought Rapco anything because of seeing that.

Good luck, HTH.

Thanx, Dan!

I lurk from time to time and I'm spending more time in the office alongside the boss of the former and now part-time company I was with for a long time. I very, very, seldom do shows, except for the local orchestra shows and a few monitor gigs here and there where I've made a lot of new musician friends. I'm a full-time musician now and having a blast with the two bands I play with.

Occasionally, I get pulled into the shop where one of the guys will point to something and give a great big "WTF???". This was the latest one.

What's funny is that right after I posed the question, one of the young guys directed my attention to a shelf with old gear on it (This is the guy that a couple of years ago, just had to break open the Series 5 and 4K and the look on his face when he saw analog consoles that large was priceless!). We found two 20-ft Ramtlatch-to-fan whips that came out of the long-stored and unused Yamaha 4KM. So now we'll remove the fan end to blunt and install another Ramlatch connector. This will "repurpose" (I hate that word, but it's accurate) those two fanouts instead of having to buy new wire. Unfortunately, both of the whips are Rapco wire, but dead-on straight for now. I tend to agree with Lee and Tim, this is a case of being rolled up and stored improperly, not necessarily a fault in the manufacturing process. We talked about properly rolling large multi-channel whips today in the shop today.

Interesting to note, there are two 300ft 64-channel Ramlatch snakes and 50ft matching monitor whips and that are seldom used, pretty much only with the SC48s that are still around. Not the first kink or curl in any of those snakes. I made them many years ago. Go figure.....

And thank all you guys for responding. Good to see you all here and to get back in here with more stupid or silly questions.... ;D
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 07:29:11 am by Geri O'Neil »
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Dan Mortensen

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Re: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2019, 03:33:46 am »

Thanx, Dan!

I really enjoy your company's activities that you guys list on FB.

????

Not me or my company, I've never been on Facebook.

Glad that you found a solutiion, though, and that it sounds like you are having a good time.

I donated my Series 5 and MH4 and a large pile of outboard & snake to a 501(c)3 that was happy to get it; I was happy to have the space.
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Geri O'Neil

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Re: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2019, 07:27:54 am »

????

Not me or my company, I've never been on Facebook.

Glad that you found a solutiion, though, and that it sounds like you are having a good time.

I donated my Series 5 and MH4 and a large pile of outboard & snake to a 501(c)3 that was happy to get it; I was happy to have the space.

My apologies!! Wrong Dan. It was very late after a long day. Fixing that!
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Randy Pence

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Re: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2019, 06:18:01 pm »

I've had good luck reducing problems with problem cables by taping an AC cable to the cable, like 2" e-tape every 6" or less. That seems to stabilize the cable and make it more ruly, as opposed to unruly.

On an install I was involved with 2 years ago, the lead had me bundle the speaker cables with pieces of unheated shrink tubing instead of tape. These were 40m pulls using multiple 4 pair cables from each point. 8 pair cables would have made things easier, but that is the material he ordered. I don't know if tape would be faster, but the shrink tube stayed clean and the cables were able to bend however they wanted to without bunching up.  I would imagine that for mobile use, the e-tape would eventually unravel or get sticky. This would obviously work easier on raw cable prior to terminations.
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Dan Mortensen

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Re: Unruly Multi-Pair Snake Cable
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2019, 04:01:13 pm »

I would imagine that for mobile use, the e-tape would eventually unravel or get sticky. This would obviously work easier on raw cable prior to terminations.

You're quite right about that. I said "E-tape" for convenience, but really use a 3M product that is a "weatherproof" 2" black vinyl tape, Scotchrap 50. It seems to last about 10 years or more on cables (at my usage level) before needing to be redone, and dries out rather than gets sticky in most cases (not sure why not all, but there you go).

Even so, it seems to mostly stick to itself and dry out near the cables, so this tape tube slides around until you take it off, much like I imagine your unshrunk shrink would do.

Sometimes wrappings will unwrap; don't know why that's the case.

With yours, I especially don't like the thought of sliding the full cable assembly through every single short tube.

I tape between 6" and 12" centers on the cables, depending on their type. Thicker cables can be farther apart, thinner ones twist apart in curves and need to be much tighter.

Also, with tape, you can redo it with connectors/boxes on it.

This tape seems expensive to me, but I can get about 100' +/- 25% (or more) of completed cable bundle from a roll. I haven't found anything cheaper with the same longevity characteristics. It makes it possible to deal easily with lots of cables as one, as long as you intend to have that bundle be that way for a while. It takes quite a while to do each cable, but I'm used to it by now.

Someone somewhere in my past readings suggested silicon tape which fuses to itself, and I tried that on a few cables. It's nice while fused, but seems to inevitably unwrap and the same tape can't be rewrapped. You have to do it over, and didn't seem to last as anywhere near as long as the Scotchrap.

YMMV, of course.
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