Author Topic: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide  (Read 60287 times)

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Offline Lohup

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DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:07:59 »
My hobby is making custom cables. I started out making straight cables and eventually tried my hand at coiled cables. I've been really pleased with how they've turned out:





I wanted to share a quick tutorial on how to get a nice coil for anyone interested. You don't need any fancy equipment to get a good result.

Equipment:

* You need something like a long wooden dowel with a diameter of about 1cm - 1.5cm. I use a really crappy fake plastic one I bought from Daiso, but it does the trick.

* Hairdryer or heat gun.

* Electrical tape or other very strong tape.

* An ample amount of cable. A good rule of thumb is about 7ft of cable per 1ft of coil.

Method:

1. Sleeve the cable first. You won't be able to sleeve the cable after it is coiled. I learned this the hard way.

2. Once the cable is sleeved, use the electrical tape to attach the cable to the wooden dowel. The cable should be slanting diagonally across the dowel at the fixture point. Make sure to wrap the cable with the tape VERY TIGHTLY and wrap it around a number of times (I usually do it at least 5 times, as tightly as possible). If there is any give in the tape, it will get looser when exposed to the heat of the hairdryer and you will have looser coils at the end, which looks bad. The quality of your taping is going to be what ensures you get a tight, even coil from start to finish.



3. Start coiling the cable around the dowel, pushing it up toward the taped part of the cable, and keeping each coil tight using your thumb. You want to make sure that each coil is the same size as the last, and that there are no gaps between the coil. Make sure every loop is tight around the dowel. The easiest way I've found is to use your off-hand to loop the coil around the dowel and pull it tight, and your right hand to hold the coil and push it up against the previous coil.

4. Once you have your desired length of coil, you need to tape off the end in the same fashion as you did at the beginning of the coil. This is the hardest part IMO, as it's hard to both tape the end of the coil while keeping the whole thing tight. You may need a second pair of hands to help, or a vice or something to hold the dowel firm while you tie off the cable.

5. Once you've tied off the cable, check the coil at both ends to make sure there is no looseness there. If there is, don't be afraid to remove the tape and try again.

6. Grab a standard household hairdryer (or heat gun if you have one). At full heat and full power, holding the blower close to the coil, move it evenly up and down the entire coil. Allow about 2 mins per half foot of coil. When you're done the entire coil should be very hot to the touch.

7. Leave the coil on the dowel to cool when you're done. As it cools, the coil will set firmly in its current position.



8. When the coil is totally cool, you can remove the tape. If you've heated it enough, it will stay in place perfectly, even without the tape.



9. You can now slide the coil off the dowel. It's all done! To care for your coil, avoid stretching it out and handle it with care just to be safe (though I've found coils produced with this method are pretty tough and stay tightly coiled over time).

The finished result. This was a custom cable order for an Etsy customer - I'm pretty sad I didn't get to keep it:





Please let me know if you have any feedback or questions. If you decide to have a go at making a coiled cable, I'd love to see the results!

This might have been obvious to some - but hoping it'll be useful to somebody. Thanks for reading :thumb:
« Last Edit: Wed, 18 May 2016, 18:20:28 by Lohup »

Offline jabronni

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:20:04 »
Nice tutorial. Actually seems fairly easy.

I also checked out your store and I really like your cables. Do you ever do paracord sleeving?

Offline Lohup

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:30:10 »
Nice tutorial. Actually seems fairly easy.

I also checked out your store and I really like your cables. Do you ever do paracord sleeving?

Yeah, I was pleased to discover it's not hard at all to get good results. Just a little fiddly. But worth it. I love the look of coiled cables.

Thanks for the kind words about my cables! It's a hobby I really enjoy. And yep, I do paracord as well. Feel free to PM me if you have something in mind.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:33:25 »
Cool! I don't like coiled cables, personally, but I have used a variant of this technique to re-coil old cables that had been stretched out.

It never occurred to me that you could coil a straight cable that way.
"I never understood wind. I know windmills very much, I have studied it better than anybody. I know it is very expensive. They are made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous — if you are into this — tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right spewing, whether it is China or Germany, is going into the air. A windmill will kill many bald eagles. After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off, that is true. By the way, they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?" - Donald Trump - Turning Point USA speech - 2019-12-22

Offline fknraiden

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:46:11 »
Cool! I don't like coiled cables, personally, but I have used a variant of this technique to re-coil old cables that had been stretched out.

It never occurred to me that you could coil a straight cable that way.


iirc, this is how pexon and zeal make theirs.

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Offline SKD

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:50:40 »
Once you have it coiled, you can reverse the coil the opposite way for an even tighter coil.

Offline Lohup

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 18:18:24 »
iirc, this is how pexon and zeal make theirs.

Very interesting - I was wondering how pexon did it. I'd like to learn more about his process, particularly how he handles heatshrink so well. I can't seem to figure out how to avoid a tiny bit of curl at the outer ends, though maybe that is just a trait of MDPC-X heatshrink. I'd like to try Techflex as well.

Offline Wazazaby

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 07 June 2016, 04:44:13 »
Thanks for the great tutorial!

Offline ninjadoc

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 10 August 2016, 20:09:14 »
Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Good to know.

Offline japanitrat

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 11 August 2016, 16:45:48 »
Nice! I recently asked Davina if they could do me a cable where both ends are coiled but not the middle. They said they couldn't do it. But this looks like it's easily possible!

Offline Jokuhemmo

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 04 December 2017, 15:49:46 »
This post might be a bit necro but i still wanted to ask: Is there any residue left on the cable from the electric tape? And if so, how do you deal with it?

Offline vouisluitton

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 19 January 2018, 12:43:51 »
Once you have it coiled, you can reverse the coil the opposite way for an even tighter coil.

sorry to dig this up, but how do you reverse it? I've heard about this method but never found a guide or video.

Offline dubious

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 19 January 2018, 12:57:10 »
These look really good!
Besides Pexon's, most custom cables have pretty janky looking coils IMHO. You've obviously perfected your system, keep up the good work!  :thumb:
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 January 2018, 13:34:02 by dubious »

Offline ineph

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 19 January 2018, 13:08:25 »
Nice tutorial :thumb:
I always wanted to know how to do this. I thought is a factory process.

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Offline DMacKB

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 09 April 2018, 08:58:49 »
FYI I just did my first of these today and maybe goe easier with the heat if you have an outer sleeve of techflex. The paracord takes the heat well but i did manage to melt two small holes in the flexPET. Given the job I did on the soldering (first time for that too) the exterior is the least of its problems :P

Offline SectorOMEGA

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 10 April 2018, 12:16:01 »
Well this worked better than I thought :) Than you very much for this. Pracord one took the heat nice

Offline DMacKB

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #16 on: Tue, 10 April 2018, 19:51:53 »
I found it's hard to get the ends tight because the electrical tape melts pretty easily under the heat gun. Anyone used a more heat resistant tape with success?

Offline Dreamre

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 18 May 2018, 15:30:50 »
Thanks for sharing this, going to give it a try.

Offline gbchk

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 28 May 2018, 16:25:02 »
Once you have it coiled, you can reverse the coil the opposite way for an even tighter coil.

sorry to dig this up, but how do you reverse it? I've heard about this method but never found a guide or video.

I had the same question myself but I think I figured it out. Let's say you wrap your coil around a dowel rod with one end (lets call it A) on the left side and the other end (B) on the right side. So you have A>>>(coil)>>>B. Once you coil it, heat it, and let it cool, undo the ends being held in place by tape or whatever you used. Now hold B in place and basically try to reverse the coil direction by twisting the curl in your hand so that it bends in the opposite direction of the first coil. Keep doing this coil by coil until you end up with B>>>(coil)>>>A. Obviously you can do this vice versa and re-coil it in the other direction as well. After that tape your ends in place, heat it again, let it cool again, and it should be good.  This video -
- briefly shows it around the 0:25 mark, however this guy just reverses it by hand and leaves it, you obviously want to repeat the heating/cooling process to make it stay put.

Also for whoever's wondering, zip ties to hold the ends down are WAY better than tape or clips/clamps.
« Last Edit: Mon, 28 May 2018, 16:27:45 by gbchk »

Offline _rubik

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 28 May 2018, 17:31:02 »
sorry to dig this up


No, thanks for digging this up! This has to be one of the best tutorials I've seen. I feel like it should be pinned somewhere.

Offline gbchk

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #20 on: Thu, 31 May 2018, 00:23:24 »
So regarding my last post on coil reversal, probably don't take my advice. I'm actually not even sure if what I described is the correct way to do it. I'm practicing coils on some cheap USB cables and getting fairly good results with the first wrap but as soon as I reverse and re-heat/re-cool, the coil comes out worse than before. If someone could provide a video of the proper way to do it, that would be fantastic, because I really can't find much.

Offline 1Weeb

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #21 on: Thu, 31 May 2018, 15:45:03 »
Great guide, may try this one day to save some money instead of having it pre-coiled when I get a cable made. :)

Offline vouisluitton

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 19 June 2018, 03:58:36 »
So regarding my last post on coil reversal, probably don't take my advice. I'm actually not even sure if what I described is the correct way to do it. I'm practicing coils on some cheap USB cables and getting fairly good results with the first wrap but as soon as I reverse and re-heat/re-cool, the coil comes out worse than before. If someone could provide a video of the proper way to do it, that would be fantastic, because I really can't find much.

I think I may know how to do it now, but i need an electric drill for the reverse process.

Offline bloggerstomper

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #23 on: Sat, 17 November 2018, 05:10:40 »
Great guide, may try this one day to save some money instead of having it pre-coiled when I get a cable made. :)

You should not reheat the coil after reversing it.

Offline Lanrefni

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #24 on: Sat, 17 November 2018, 06:18:02 »
This thread is giving me flashbacks to to my first job when I used to make coiled industrial cables for everything from refrigerated semi trailers to the sensor cable for a refueling planes boom arm,arming cables for bombs were the worst.

Offline Pitrek

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #25 on: Sat, 01 December 2018, 17:01:49 »
After many, like really many attempts I gave up. Now, I appreciate even more how superb coiled cables can be.

Offline snowe

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #26 on: Sun, 07 July 2019, 23:13:31 »
Quote
Grab a standard household hairdryer (or heat gun if you have one). At full heat and full power

So... definitely don't do this if you have a good heat gun. I turned mine up to 650C and... melted my techflex. :'(

Redid it at 450C and it didn't seem hot enough. I think the good zone is somewhere in 500-600C. I'll have to try again with the next cable.


Offline Mekberg

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #27 on: Mon, 15 July 2019, 02:39:11 »
Great guide, may try this one day to save some money instead of having it pre-coiled when I get a cable made. :)

You should not reheat the coil after reversing it.

So what is the actual point of reversing the coil then? What do you do with it after reversing it? And is there a clearer description of what "reverse" actually means?

Offline dat_brass1

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #28 on: Fri, 13 September 2019, 17:09:46 »
I just tried this out and it worked for me. I'm right-handed

1) hold the coiled cable with the finger tips of both hands in the center
2) with the left hand, begin unwinding the coil little by little and move outward slowly
3) the cable will begin to reform the coil in the opposite direction
4) keep going. when you reach the end, do the same with your right hand to finish it
5) tada! tighter coil

This is how it's done at a factory, just with machines. I did this before finding this thread and I didn't put the sheathing on first, so now I have to find another cable and do it again!  :mad:

Offline prashantwosti

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #29 on: Wed, 02 October 2019, 22:27:51 »
Can anyone please tell me what spec should I go with while choosing the paracord to sleeve the cable.

Thanks :)

Offline paulkemp

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #30 on: Mon, 11 November 2019, 09:18:06 »
Nice guide. Thanks for putting this out there.

Can I ask where you get all the nice colors for your sleeves and braids?

Offline egstad

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #31 on: Mon, 11 November 2019, 13:27:10 »
They look great! Nicely done! :thumb:

Online rjohn

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #32 on: Sun, 24 November 2019, 09:51:41 »

thanks was super easy ,just did my first cable with coil

Offline 4sStylZ

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #33 on: Mon, 25 November 2019, 03:43:13 »
Hi there, a little bit too late for me but it’s good for everyone.

On a reddit post some days ago I have described the parts that I have personaly ordered for mines.

It can be helfull for others :

Quote
  • The most important thing is the cable diameter. You want to be as close possible to the paracord, else this will be bad looking. But you want to be able to put the sleeve on the chord. So you need to have the good cable. This one is the key to success. As you can see it's 24 AWG (American wire gauge). For some reason I get others cable with the same size but they are too big for the paracord, even 750. This is for 25 meters so this is an investisment for multiples cable…
  • Paracord size 550 to 750. If the color that you want is disponible in 750 then go for it. Remember that if you coiled, you need a more important section. Paracord 1250 can be good if you have a big sleeved cable (not the one that I recommand). You can get them on paracord planet or paracord.eu or elsewhere.
  • For USB connectors, choose something like that https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B07D11TD9K/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 As you can see there is no plastic shield and you can cover them with heatshrink.
  • You can get Lemo connectors on Aliexpress (I don't know if they are genuine but I have some and it's pretty decent).
  • For USB-C connectors that's a little bit complicated. At this point I have done some research and there is some USB-2 connectors that I will be probably able to use. This A variation, as you can see there is two little resistors and seem's that this is very important to use for data and being able to flip the connector. I get some shield on others connectors that I have buyed additionnaly.
  • For the Heatshrink you need at least a reduction factor (when heated) of 2:1 and preferaly 3:1 or maybe 4:1 with at least 9.53 mm for smalls connectors (mini, usb-c, micro) and a close but bigger size for usb (if you don't have those with plastic shield as suggest). 9,53 can be big for a parocrd on a sleeve but good for sleeve + paracord + techflex. So I suggest you get a size a little bit smaller.  Anyway, having different heatshrink size is very confortable, so maybe buy a black or transparent kit that will follow all your needs for a lot of time. I have those in multiples colors, also made by techflex.
  • If you want to have a techflex sleeve on the paracord you can see that there is multiple size. I have used PET Expandable braided sleeve called Flexo. There is multiple size but you can see on this table the minimal size (when folded) and the maximal size when stretched. What you want is 6.35 mm size or smaller if you coil thin. 6,35 is good size with 550 paracord size to 1250 (and probably 3 time bigger).

Also some personal tips (maybe already on this post) :

  • When you make the coil, make a very good orientation for the begin / end angles with the tape as the orientation will be this one forever.
  • When you make the coil, be carefull of the orientation of your usb-connectors. Even coiled, those cable are rigid and you if it’s possible to have a natural connector orientation then it’s better.
  • With techflex I have failed one time because my heatgun was too hot. I have not burned the external and I wasn’t seing my fail when doing it but my coil was so close that they some loop have sticked together. So, you probably need to take care of that, for example, when removing the tape, use a cutter for cutting those little deffect before they get worst.

Good luck.
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Online rjohn

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #34 on: Mon, 20 January 2020, 13:38:20 »
just saw that video ,very important in the process is reversing the direction of the coil (3:54),just did it on mine and is so much better.

Offline pre10c

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #35 on: Mon, 27 January 2020, 06:03:20 »
Hey, I was wondering what type of cable you guys use when making your own cable. any suggestions on where to get it?

Offline bobbyjimmy

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #36 on: Mon, 27 January 2020, 21:06:34 »
Hey, I was wondering what type of cable you guys use when making your own cable. any suggestions on where to get it?

I've used this 4 core shielded cable to make a few, seems decent enough;
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32926518660.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.27424c4dflYGjR

If you want a Techflex type cover, this shop sells lots of colours of 4mm PET;
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32874505150.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.432d4c4drRm62p

And paracord is everywhere, 4mm/550 just depends what colour/s you want.

Online rjohn

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #37 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 00:15:20 »
paracord :
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32697322289.html?spm=a2g0s.12269583.0.0.7fd9384fw26OPB ,if you want to make it double color.

for cable i am using old keyboard cable,you can use as well ethernet cable inside has 8 cables ,you can remove the 4 and use them.

another attemp for coil ,a bit more fatty




Offline HolyCrap

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #38 on: Sun, 02 February 2020, 15:27:55 »
I was reading around a bunch trying to decide which kind of cable to order. The concern was that 28awg might not being enough to handle current draw for RGB boards when a long coil and/or straight run was involved because I had seen it mentioned as a concern a couple of places, but with no real numbers or math to back it up. I also couldn't find any real world measurements of how much power RGB boards actually draw and I don't have the equipment to take my own power draw measurements. Some manufacturers state that their RGB boards will draw up to 500 mA, but that seems to be based on USB specs rather than real world power draw, and max power draw is likely more in the area of 100 mA or so. My RGB board is currently negotiated to 100 mA, meaning it must be drawing 100 mA max, and likely much less.

However there's always the chance that someone could attach a device drawing a lot of current to the USB passthrough too, so getting wire capable of handling 500 mA is probably a better-safe-than-sorry sort of situation, especially because I see most if not allkeyboards with powered USB passthrough like the Corsair k95 have two USB plugs for power purposes. But again, that might be more of a USB spec thing than anything else. Since there seems to be a lot of conflicting information I decided to run some numbers of my own...

There aren't many wire gauge calculators that go into the higher gauges, most of them bottom out at 20awg or so but eventually I found this one intended for LED strips. Perfect!

https://www.waveformlighting.com/tech/led-strip-light-wire-gauge-calculator-requirements

Worst case scenario, 500 mA with a 10 foot cable:

Result:
The total amperage draw of your 1 ft LED strip is 0.50 Amps, which is below the recommended safe amperage limit of 1.4 Amps for 28 AWG wire.
The total voltage drop across the 10 ft of 28 AWG wire is approximately 0.325V.

Your power source of 5V will be dropped down to 4.675 V.

Looks like at 10 feet of cable at the full 500mA the voltage drop is getting pretty concerning at 6.5% loss to heat... but that's worst case scenario. A more realistic 100mA with 10 feet of cable only loses .26% to heat, no problem at all:

Result:
The total amperage draw of your 1 ft LED strip is 0.10 Amps, which is below the recommended safe amperage limit of 1.4 Amps for 28 AWG wire.
The total voltage drop across the 10 ft of 28 AWG wire is approximately 0.065V.

Your power source of 5V will be dropped down to 4.935 V.

I won't waste space posting more results, but at a more reasonable 6 feet there would be just under 4% loss to heat with the full 500 mA which is still quite high but probably wouldn't be an issue. All that considered, I think it should be perfectly safe to make cables with 28mA power conductors because I can't actually find any boards that allow you to draw 500 mA through a single USB port, boards like the HHK2 only provide 100 mA. I'm not an expert in this stuff so if anybody more knowledgeable could chime in that'd be awesome.
« Last Edit: Sun, 02 February 2020, 16:32:52 by HolyCrap »

Offline pre10c

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #39 on: Thu, 13 February 2020, 05:19:13 »
what kind of paracord do you guys use to sleeve 28awg usb wire? I bought some 550 paracord, but its too tight to get over the cable.

Offline HolyCrap

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #40 on: Sat, 15 February 2020, 09:37:55 »
550 has been working well for me over 28 gauge USB cable. Just keep in mind that paracord is like one of those chinese finger traps. When you pull it, the diameter reduces and it tightens over the cable. When you push the it, it loosens and slides on easily. I start with a fresh cut, fraying end to my paracord and bunch it up slightly to make it easier to fit onto the end of the cable. Once you get it started, you can clean up the end and melt it to stop the fraying. Just be sure not to melt it to the insulation of your USB cable.

To easily feed the paracord onto the cable, hold the portion of the paracord that is already started on the cable with one hand about 3 or 4 inches from the end of the cable so that the paracord doesn't slide the wrong direction and to provide an anchor for pushing the paracord on with your other hand. Start pushing paracord onto the cable and alternate letting up with your hand holding to cable to allow the excess paracord to pass further onto the cable. Repeating that process goes pretty quickly. I have read some mention of 550 that is too tight to fit, so it is possible your paracord is smaller than most. 

I guess this is one case where you can push a rope.

Online rjohn

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #41 on: Sat, 15 February 2020, 13:39:45 »
same here , 550,yes its a bit tight.

Offline pre10c

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #42 on: Fri, 21 February 2020, 11:05:33 »
Well I think my outer diameter is just big, it's 4.6mm and when I try to get paracord over it, it just stretches the paracord to the max