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Philip Perkins

cables on reels?

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Does anyone here use reels for individual xlr cables?  I'm looking into using them for 25-50' types, trying to speed up wraps on cable-intensive jobs.  So far folks I've spoken with are pretty evenly divided for and against...

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It's been interesting to me how polarized opinion on this subject has been (on GS etc)--some folks love them and some hate them, no one in between.   The local PA co.'s and venues that I've seen do not use them,  but many concert recording folks I talled with online liked the idea a lot and have worked this way for years (mostly with cheapo Home Depot reels).  I'm kind of desperate to speed up wraps these days.

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So you'd roll the cord onto the reel, then connect the next one to that and reel that one on and so on?  Might be a slick way to do it if the connectors don't mess up the way the cable rolls onto the reel.  You could have one reel for 25s and one for 50s so you can keep them sorted.  The plastic ones wouldn't get too heavy I'm thinking. 

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I personally don't use reels but have considered it. Most of my cables are relatively short of varying lengths , except for some 50 footers, 100' 8 channel snake and a 75' boom duplex.  In any case, Markertek.com has all kinds of A/V reels.

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I think the issue is that a cable gets additional wear if it's stored both on a reel and hand coiled over-under depending on the day / job. If its consistently one or the other, it will last longer.  For stage shows where time taken to strike is very important, and the quality of the help is variable, it's a tricky balance.  The big companies, e.g. Claire Global, will inspect, test and re-coil all cables that come back from a job, but a one-man team needs less hassle.

The additional twists and untwists would certainly impair a network cable, for example.

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Works great, especially with the heavy duty Canare 4 wire. Not needed for under 50ft but for my boom op 2-way and 100ft long it really saves time.

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+1 on the works great front. like has been said, I use them on the longer cables. The stress on cables and connector assemblies haven't been an issue. I just use the Home Depot extension cord reels. Haven't tried the A/V kind. I'm sure they're nice too!

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I work with a VTR guy here who swears by cable reels.  Funny thing is his assistant hates them and swears by over under.  They have to coil and uncoil hundreds if not thousands of feet of cable a day.  So yeah, a very polarizing and personal subject.  Personally I can see the advantage for long cables.  My 100' XLR's are a bit of a pain to manage just coiled, and if you ever lay them out with knots it can be a real time suck to undo.  Overall I find I'm really fast at over under cable wrapping, so I figured the cable rolls wouldn't save me time, and I steered away from them because they take up more space in the van than just a crate of coiled cables.  When I'm doing jobs with a lot of cable out like music gigs, my van is usually completely full so the extra space became the deciding factor for me.

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I prefer reels for thinner cable that don't wrap the same as star quad mic cable, like CAT-5 for stage jobs (250' or so) or also good for multi-pair, but for single strands of 100' XLR, hand wrap hands down.  This sort of brings up another tangential conversation, could you benefit from a digital snake system where your just laying out a single CAT-5 for the backbone and then use a stage box or the excellent new MOTU AVB boxes for endpoints?

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Have heard a couple different opinions recently on cable reels, namely which direction they are terminated..

It makes some sense to me as a boom op to have an XLR reel wired with the male end at the end of the cable, feeding into the mixer, and un-wind it out with all the slack moving out onto the floor with the boom op to patch into the female built onto the reel housing (because video village/mixer shouldn't move as much).

The other thinking is to wire reels with the female connector at the end of the cable, male side on the reel housing which would park at the mixer, and the boom op has the freedom to just take enough slack out on the floor to do their thing, maybe ask mixer to spool out more cable for them over comms.

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Depending on the length of the cable I prefer to use a reel. A few months ago I actually purchased a few reels from Lowes for some cables that are 80ft plus in length. I actually modified them slightly by using a hole saw to drill a hole to put one of the cable ends through so that I wouldn't have to take the cable completely off the reel to use it.

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