Cable management for pull-out shelves

Cable management is a headache for all, and if unmitigated it becomes a playground for cats. [kws103] posted a project a while ago that takes care of the messy wires for electronics on pull out shelving. Channel bracket is used to house the cables and has been articulated in three places to facilitate the movement of the sliding shelf. For an added touch an outlet was built into the surface to make it easy to unplug and remove the components if necessary. The hinges for articulation use aluminum base plates and rely on rivets as a pivot point, something that might need improvement if pulling the shelf in and out is a common occurence. Add this to the Ikea based solution we looked at in August and your days of electronic rats nests may be coming to an end.

25 thoughts on “Cable management for pull-out shelves

  1. I like the idea behind this, as i have many electronic devices for my home entertainment, but i personally would have went with a multi-plug surge protector. They cost just about $15USD at my local electronics store (Fry’s Electronics) for a really decent one.

  2. Looks very neat and tidy.

    One problem I have is zip-tying wires. Functions as needed, but in the event that something ever need moved or changed, as is frequent in computer configurations like my own, it becomes a nightmare to even swap a keyboard. I’m sure I’m not the only one who jokingly refers to their computer desk as a “command center” due to the number of varying electronics and such.

    This appears to have been foreseen kws103, as he mostly used the smarter solution of Velcro wire holders, mostly.

  3. Velcro ties are a must. This sort of cable management I have little time for *except* when the wife gets involved and tells me I can’t keep my gadgets and other junk plugged in because it makes the place *untidy*.

    I bought a load of Velcro ties from Amazon a while back I’ve used them for loads of things. They are little more friendly than cable ties.

    Wow…how boring am I :P

  4. “wow really…. attaching cables to a hinge qualifies as a hack”
    “you’d probably be better off just connecting all those cables to a surge protector and mounting that instead”
    You incorrectly assume that those are all power cables.

  5. bear in mind i didnt RTFA, but it seems to me, in such a situation where the shelf is moved in and out fairly regularly, such as in a computer desk (6-20 times a day for example), the wires would weaken and break at that center joint fairly quickly under the stress of use. assuming one uses their computer 6 days a week, gets up from it on average 12 times throughout the day for whatever reason, we’ve just bent and unbent that bundle of wires almost 600 times in a month. keeping with the trend, it’s almost 7k times a year. stranded copper cable is some fairly durable stuff but it cant take that sort of abuse. i’m sure it’d be fine for things normaly left alone but it isnt going to manage my keyboard/mouse/random USB crap/etc ratsnest i currently deal with.

    tl;dr not for use in nuclear facility

  6. When I had everything rack mounted and I wanted it pull-out able I used spiro-band in conjunction with wire ties.

    Wire ties were used only for strain relief.
    Large loops in spiro-band kept it all neat and didn’t force all the bending stress on a few points while keeping it changeable if need be.

  7. This does indeed seem like something I have seen many times in server rooms. It’s good to see that it can be implemented quickly and inexpensively in the home.

    I agree with other posters that bending wires like this may turn into a problem over time. I would try to make it so that the joints bend as little as possible, perhaps giving them a wider radius turn at the joint or adding more segments to reduce the distance moved on each push/pull cycle.

  8. @~,

    It all depends on the cables, and maintaining the proper minimum bend radius. Are they designed for flexing in use? Cat 5 or cat 6 solid plenum wires would probably fail quickly under such tight bends, but rubber jacketed stranded conductors are made to last a good long time under continual flexing conditions. Mouse cords, earphone cords, and machinery connection cables are all good examples of wires that are designed for constant flexing.

    Cable strain reliefs would probably help, as would a piece of flexible conduit or raceway.

    Binding the cables tight to the hinge pins would be a bad idea. Leaving bigger loops at all the flex points (as he did in the picture above) will help, but as he says in the text you have to be careful that you don’t leave so much slop that it hangs down and interferes with the operation of the drawer.

  9. i was thinking about building something that serves this same purpose, but my design was a little more complex, and much gentler on the wires. think “retractable _whatever_ cable” like you can get at dollar tree even. just scaled up to at least a 5 inch radius. spring loaded, retractable, under-the-desk-mounted cable holder. but it was just for 1 usb extension cable. How those things work is:
    the cable is bent like an S or Z depending on which way it retracts, and the rest is up to the spring-loading mechanism. or whatever you want to call it. basically a coil/spiral of flat metal that tightens up when you pull the cable out, and pulls the cable in when it releases that tension.
    im not great at putting this sort of thing into words but i could draw you a nice .bmp to explain it. maybe a pull-start mechanism would be more familiar, since retractable cables probably became ‘legacy devices’ with the introduction of the whole bluetooth and WiFi thing.

  10. rather than velcro-ing or cable-tieing the wires to the hinge, you cold use some sort of elastic ties, so that the points on the hinge act like the cotrol point on a NURBS curve, meaning that the wire could bend smoothly over its entire length.

  11. chicosoft, the guy obviously has “rack fever” and just wants his stuff to work for reals.

    Rack Fever: The relentless drive to turn your work/play space into the equivalent of a NASA launch control room.

  12. the comments above about wire durability are important.
    a slight mod, IMO, would be to loop the wire once or twice at the bend points. in clamshell cellphones, you will find at least 3 loops in the cable, at the hinge, going to the screen.

  13. The soulution depicted works on servers because they don’t get opened that often.

    I would rather see the cables bundled (spiral wrap or velcro’d), then attached to a very weak spring (like the one that keeps the chain on a storm door from drooping). One end of the spring is attached to the highest, furthest point inside the cabinet. The other end is attached at the midpoint of the cable.

    The spring would suck the cable back out of the way when the drawer was closed. The bundling would keep it from getting into the drawer mechanism. No particular areas of the bundle would ever get bent too tightly.

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