The Laws of A/V Cabling

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wing
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The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby wing » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:45 am UTC

1. One shall always be confident that their supply of excess cables can absorb the cost of one's new project. After all, one always has boxes of cables and one always recalls seeing exactly what he needed the last time one raided the supply.
2. Upon beginning the new project described in #1, one shall always search the excess cable supply thoroughly for the required cable.
3. Upon carrying out #2, one shall never locate the required cable, despite one knowing for certain that one owns dozens of them and one is not currently using any.
4. After one completes #3, one shall purchase the required cables.
5. Upon receipt of the cables purchased in #4, one will attempt installation and discover that the equipment has some sort of odd caveat that requires a subtly different cabling setting.
6. One always knows he has excess cables in stock for #5. One will search for them.
7. During the search in #6, one will always locate multiple copies of the cable searched for in #2 and ordered in #4.
8. During the search in #6, one will never locate the cable required in #5.
9. One will order the cable required in #5.
10. Upon receipt of the cable ordered in #9, and completion of the project, one will take the extra copies of the cable in #2, along with the one purchased in #4, and place them in the excess cables collection.
11. While one is carrying out #10, he will discover several copies of the cable ordered in #9.


This phenomenon annoys me far more than lost socks. And it's not like you can just go to the store and buy a new cable... You MUST order online, because cable markup is insane beyond belief. Right now I need a 3/8 jack splitter. I *MIGHT* be able to get one at the Dollar Store. I think I may have seen one there the last time I needed shot glasses.

Thoughts? Experiences?
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby Habanero » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:59 am UTC

That sounds pretty thorough. The only thing that I might add is that this complexity increases when setting up A/V equipment for a large trade show or convention. It doesn't change the process, it just adds some complexity.

A. You must source them locally because you need the stuff RIGHT NOW!
B. Everyone else at the trade show setting up their A/V equipment are out looking for the same bits you are.

This creates a scarcity situation where all sources within a reasonable distance are now out of stock and you are forced to pay $250.00 for cab fare going from place to place looking for the stuff you need.
Why make things difficult when it is possible to make them cryptic and totally illogical with just a little bit more effort?

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby dubsola » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:37 pm UTC

You forgot the tangling part. Like, how you can take a cable, and neatly curl it up, then look away for a second, and it took the opportunity to tangle itself like nobody's business.

12. Tables cangle... I mean, cables tangle.
12A. One cable, neatly coiled, will tangle itself into various loops and twists when not observed. It will take about 3 seconds per foot of cable to untangle a single cable.
12B. Two cables will tangle much more than one, intertwining as fiendishly as possible. It will take 10 seconds per foot of cable to untangle two cables. This scales up significantly as more cables are added.
12C. Cable ties ameliorate but do not eliminate tangling.
12D. Cables tangle much more when time is of the essence, for instance when the band is meant to have started 10 minutes ago. No formula can be constructed for the amount of untangling that is required under these circumstances.

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby space_raptor » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:11 pm UTC

12. The longest speaker wire you have will be about two feet short of the length required.

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby Master Gunner » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:25 pm UTC

I swear I had a bag of S-Video cables, in fact, I used them the last week, and I clearly remember putting them back neatly, so WHY THE HELL AREN'T THEY THERE???????????
^^That, ad infinitum, is the story of my life.

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby MFHodge » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:56 pm UTC

My system seems to work pretty well. I have a desk drawer full of cables. Every cable longer than ~1 ft. is coiled with a twist tie. Cables of each type are put in clear zipper bags. Adapter and splitter are kept seperate from long cables. Whenever you are ordering a new cable, order a handful of others at the same time. And always buy from monoprice.com.
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby Ess » Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:21 pm UTC

This topic is filled with much truth.

Also:
13. If one only has a short distance between things, the shortest usable cable will probably be too long, causing you to have to find a way to hide the excess.

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby alkatmsu » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:29 pm UTC

I submit the following law which I follow and drives my mom insane:

Never throw away a functioning cable, regardless of type, length, or potential usefulness.

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby jazzmansteve » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:44 pm UTC

I think another rule is that:

Non technical people will always assume that as long as a cable fits into a socket with he right adapters it will work, regardless of the source output or input impedance/wattage. This applies to video too.

Stuff like pluging an unbalanced XLR to jack from a mic to a guitar amp, it is always going to sound awful.
Or some plank who connect a massive speaker into a tiny underpowered amp.

This is the sort of think that happens in my old school where I practice with my band. That, and somehow the number of functioning mics always seem to outnumber the number of functioning leads.
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby Bakemaster » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:10 am UTC

There has to be a rule in there somewhere about the time you spend going over other parts of your system in the course of eventually diagnosing a bad XLR that someone stepped on/knotted/coiled improperly.

Or how about constantly losing a stereo mini to 1/4" adapter for a pair of headphones that you use both at home and traveling, even though you swear by all that is holy you always leave the adapter in the home system jack when you take your headphones to work/school/whatever? Is that just me?
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby xooll » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:18 am UTC

jazzmansteve wrote:Non technical people will always assume that as long as a cable fits into a socket with he right adapters it will work, regardless of the source output or input impedance/wattage. This applies to video too.

I remember when that was me... I took a microphone, had an XLR-TRS cable and an adapter for 1/4" to 1/8", and plugged it directly into the line-in jack on my soundcard.
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby wing » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:34 am UTC

xooll wrote:
jazzmansteve wrote:Non technical people will always assume that as long as a cable fits into a socket with he right adapters it will work, regardless of the source output or input impedance/wattage. This applies to video too.

I remember when that was me... I took a microphone, had an XLR-TRS cable and an adapter for 1/4" to 1/8", and plugged it directly into the line-in jack on my soundcard.
I have come a long way.

I have two XLR=>1/8" cables - one with a male XLR and one with a female XLR. Together, they make a GREAT 1/8 male=>1/8 male cable.

Also, that setup works in a pinch when someone blows up a mixer.

What's REAL fun is connecting a guitar directly to a sound card.

It's as if we'd wired the guitar to the PC's reset button :P Once we added a mixer in between, it only interfered with the poorly shielded CRT.
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby GMThomas » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:53 am UTC

I agree on all points. I can save a cable, see it every day for the next year, and then when I actually need it, it is gone. Same thing applies to old computer parts. I had this PSU sitting in my closet for the longest time. Uhoh, my PSU blew up, let's go get the old one, I remember seeing it on that shelf last week. Hey, where is it?

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby saxmaniac1987 » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:21 am UTC

What's really great is when athletic departments INSIST on blasting low-quality mp3s of already terrible music over a professionally installed top-of-the-line arena sound system. Damn iPods.

And if your cables are tangling that much, its possible you're not coiling them correctly. Well trained cable is beautiful to work with.
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby Habanero » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:40 am UTC

saxmaniac1987 wrote:Well trained cable is beautiful to work with.
I've tried everything I can think of. Kodály, Orff, Steiner-Waldorf, Montessori, and others to no avail.Those darned cables remain unruly.
Why make things difficult when it is possible to make them cryptic and totally illogical with just a little bit more effort?

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:32 am UTC

alkatmsu wrote:I submit the following law which I follow and drives my mom insane:

Never throw away a functioning cable, regardless of type, length, or potential usefulness.

I have a large cardboard box with nothing but cables next to my computer desk: Cables that go inside a computer are in one bag, Cables that go outside the computer in another, and everything else (a bewildering variety of video, audio, and indeterminate usage cables) loose in the box. Since I'm a computer nerd and not an A/V nerd, this seemed the best (more or less) organizational system, but I'm pretty sure I can only get away with it because I have Maniac Magee untangling skills.

Despite my amazing organizing, I can never find my usb to mini-usb cables (useful for cameras, MP3 players, digital voice recorders, etc.) and always end up buying one or two a year, I can find any other cable in mere hours, but the mini-usb always defeats me, I have to own ten or twenty of them by now (quite a few extra considering were I too plug every mini-usb device I own in at once, I'd only need four or five)
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby Berengal » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:05 pm UTC

How about network cables? I propose the following laws:

#1: You never have enough cables for a LAN, no matter how few computers.

#2: If people bring their own cables, there's still not enough.

#3: If you make absolutely sure you've got enough cables some won't work.

#4: If a cable doesn't work, it's the longest one. If more cables don't work, it's the longest ones.

#5: If you still have enough, and long enough cables, a short one will fail, so you'll have to use a long one instead.

#6: It is impossible to rearrange the computers so that you've got enough length of cable, but you don't know that after you've tried.

#7: When you've rearranged the computers into the most cable-length efficient arrangement, you'll find that there's no surface to put the switch on so that the cables still reach.

#8: The switch's power cable is broken. No Exceptions.

#9: Getting a replacement power cable takes at least 45 minutes.

#10: The switch ends up suspended in the middle of the arrangement of computers, held up in the air by taut cables.
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby alkatmsu » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:16 am UTC

http://sellout.woot.com/

I had to buy three! Six monster brand cables for $11, where Froogle shows them as being $40 EACH... I couldn't help it.

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby b.i.o » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:47 am UTC

alkatmsu wrote:http://sellout.woot.com/

I had to buy three! Six monster brand cables for $11, where Froogle shows them as being $40 EACH... I couldn't help it.


I can certainly help it--what would I use a USB 2.0 cable for anyway? The only things I have that I use USB for regularly are mouse/keyboard other peripherals.

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby Akula » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:52 am UTC

VTHodge wrote:My system seems to work pretty well. I have a desk drawer full of cables. Every cable longer than ~1 ft. is coiled with a twist tie. Cables of each type are put in clear zipper bags. Adapter and splitter are kept seperate from long cables. Whenever you are ordering a new cable, order a handful of others at the same time. And always buy from http://www.monoprice.com.


Fixed, because it should be a link, so that others may see it with more ease. It is truly a great site. I'm honestly not sure how the hell they make any money though, as they have to be selling pretty close to their cost, and there's all the other expenses involved.

But yeah, http://www.monoprice.com is sage advice.
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby alkatmsu » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:22 pm UTC

Silver2Falcon wrote:
alkatmsu wrote:http://sellout.woot.com/

I had to buy three! Six monster brand cables for $11, where Froogle shows them as being $40 EACH... I couldn't help it.


I can certainly help it--what would I use a USB 2.0 cable for anyway? The only things I have that I use USB for regularly are mouse/keyboard other peripherals.

I have a laptop, with an external DVD burner, hard drive, and a printer. That's three cables right there. Lots of people use me as tech support, so it's nice to have extra to grab and go (right now, I have to yank the one from my printer).

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:59 am UTC

Yes, this is a truly bizarre phenomenon that drives me insane. I can simply rewire my A/V system, not moving any of the components, and somehow end up with only half the cables I need. And of course my box full of cables always has a few extra of everything until I need one.

It's like some sort of undocumented law of physics. O_o
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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby b.i.o » Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:11 am UTC

alkatmsu wrote:
Silver2Falcon wrote:
alkatmsu wrote:http://sellout.woot.com/

I had to buy three! Six monster brand cables for $11, where Froogle shows them as being $40 EACH... I couldn't help it.


I can certainly help it--what would I use a USB 2.0 cable for anyway? The only things I have that I use USB for regularly are mouse/keyboard other peripherals.

I have a laptop, with an external DVD burner, hard drive, and a printer. That's three cables right there. Lots of people use me as tech support, so it's nice to have extra to grab and go (right now, I have to yank the one from my printer).


I have an internal DVD burner, an e-SATA external, and I use a network printer. But my point is, those things all have their own USB cables, what's the point of buying more?

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Re: The Laws of A/V Cabling

Postby kyct » Sun Feb 03, 2008 4:38 pm UTC

This thread my day. There is so much truth, it hurts.
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