Setup build series: cable management [Part 3]

Cable management can make your setup or break it, you might have the greatest gear and lousy cable work and your setup will look cumbersome and repelling to the eye. On the other hand your gear can be modest but with great cable management everything will look and tidy making the setup look very clean and beautiful.

If you didn’t follow the journey from the beginning please check part 1 and 2:

In the previous post we built the desk, tedious work but now we have a sit/stand desk with the best quality/price ratio we could find. Now time to think about routing cables. As we stated from the beginning this is a laptop setup, thought some of this principles might be applied to PC/Mac towers setups.

  • We want a clean surface so no cables on top of the desk, everything should be or look wireless
  • Often used ports should be very accessible
  • No cables dangling under the desk

Power

Power isn’t wireless yet, so we need a way to power the gear in the setup. For a clean look only one wire should come from the wall. Unfortunately for us, the sit/stand functionality will oblige us to leave the wire dangling because it needs freedom to move. If your desk is static you can route it in a cable channel and hide it, you can also paint it with the same color of the wall to make it blend in its environment.

To distribute the power from that cord you need a power strip, there are many of them but one must pick carefully when it comes to high voltage devices. An important feature is surge protection, basically it protects your equipment from spikes that might occur in the power delivery network, read more here. The other factor is how many outlets you need, it might be a good idea to future-proof your setup and pick more than you’ll need. Another aspect is form, some power strips come in linear form since they are mainly made for server racks and similar equipment, they can be hidden with the edge of the desk since they don’t have a large footprint horizontally. Many other forms exist, but for our use case we want to use 2 power outlets and daisy chain them, this will allow us to be able to turn one off while the other is on, we need this feature to power some devices that we don’t use all the time. Also we want easy access to power switches so we want to place those close to user position to be able to switch any outlet on and off.

Ports

We mostly use USB devices like flash drives and external hard drives to transfer data, need to charge some devices through USB ports, and we need the audio jack for the headsets. So we want an easy access to those ports from the front of the desk.
For audio, our solution is to use a 3.5mm jack extension cable to be plugged to the computer and be routed under the desk to the front where it will be plugged to a Y split unit that we can plug 2 headsets to it. And we will be using a USB hub with an external power supply. We used a USB extension cable with some USB 90 degree cables, the audio jack extension has also a 90 degree plug, using 90 degree cable is making the cable look very clean.

Cable management

For cable management we used a mix of tools and techniques, here are some tips:

  • Routing thick cable is hard because they don’t bend easily, so stress will be built in bends making it impossible to hold the wire with simple cable holders. We had to use holders with nails to make the cables go in the path we wanted.
  • For thin wires we used zip ties to group them and cable holders to keep them in place
  • For some cables we needed to add extra 90 degree adapters for perfect routing
  • On the desk we added a cable clip holder to keep wires tidy
  • We added an IKEA SIGNUM to hold other cables and power bricks
  • Keyboard cable is going under the desk and router to the USB hub, an additional 90 degree adapter is added to make the keyboard USB cable go along the edge of the keyboard
  • 3M tape is used to make the housing of cables stick to the desk, but it’s not working very well with the wood, we had to redo some a few times
  • We attached screws under the desk, to mount the power strips, most power strips have holes for that

No pics for now ;) stay tuned



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