Glowing patch cables

[Sleepydog] just sent in this cool video of a patch cable he made with a built in EL wire. He’s using a Power over Ethernet router to control which ports have power. He states that this would allow easy identification of specific cables in the mess. While the proof of concept seems completely functional, and the idea is nice, we have to wonder if the cost to put in all the extra hardware would be worth it. Each cable would have to have its own inverter, not only driving up cost, but possibly adding interference. That does not mean we don’t want this desperately, we do. But we want it just because it looks cool. He needs to choreograph this to some music now and make his entire server room into a fancy display.

32 thoughts on “Glowing patch cables

  1. cool idea in theory, but too much needs changing to implement it…. as in need to change over to a PoE stuff…meaning disconnecting all wires anyway, so why not strip it all back and redo it…. plus not really a solution for cat6A as cant use PoE.

    saying that…. still a cool idea.

    if you could interface that with the drain wire of a shielded cable, then all you’d need to do is use the shield can, meainng cat6a is viable.

  2. technical practicalities aside, im drooling over the idea of an entire server room wired with cables like this, but have them light up when traffic goes over them. even cooler still if there were a way to make an effect where the light ‘traveled’ across the line…hollywood’s version of what computers look like would come true! (and be badass!)

    then all we would need is a 3d display of our mainframe…and to get rid of those pesky garbage files ;)

  3. This reminds me of one of those craptacular TV ads where they show someone using a competing product and completely screwing everything up on purpose.

    The only difference this would make to that spaghetti mess of wires at the beginning, would be that the whole mess would be glowing. It would still be difficult to pull the correct wire.

    They already have colored patch cables, all that is needed is a good admin to tidy up that mess.

  4. @emperor: EL wires can run down to 60Hz. Also the differential signaling theoretically means common mode noise shouldn’t have any effect, but good question..

    If you were really concerned about it I guess you could use shielded cat5, with the EL wrapped around the outside.

  5. We used to spaghetti up the cables and mis label everything in the server room on purpose, It was called job security, they had to rehire two of us just to sort the mess out at twice the pay so they didn’t have to rewire and retest every box in the building.

  6. Hmm, this is an interesting idea and would sure be fun at a LAN party but is it really necessary practical to have that much electricity running through it all at once? Sounds like a waste of power and therefore money to me.

  7. @ anonymous:

    A messy rack indeed. Everyone knows the only time to do a rack right is at installation; if you try to ‘right’ a rack at any other time, it is much more an ordeal of removing, tracing, unravelling, and (nine times out of ten this is the long part) shortening all the wires because you were finally able to put them away in the traps leaving surplus wire (to the tune of carefully stripping a jacket, carefully arranging the eight wires contained within, carefully placing them inside a jack head, shoving hard to make sure all eight connectors make it to their crush terminals, and crimping).

    the surplus wire must be removed, and even with the best tools and technique it’s a time consuming process. it’s way more efficient to make a semi-permanent decision and stick to it at the planning phase.

  8. @carl
    thanks for that patchsee link… the cables are surprisingly cheap and the idea is ingenious. using the fiber optics and a flashing light.. man that’s just cake. i even ordered a demonstration kit to see how it works. thanks again!

  9. neat. i like el wire. interference is a serious issue though. i don’t think the issue would be in the strand of cable as much as at the power source. lots of switching noise. a proper rc circuit should be able to isolate the noise. i’m still trying to wrap my head around the calculations for that. btw, neonstring is a good supplier.

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