wallwarts, power strips, AC cables everywhere....why not consolidate?
Mar 18, 2006 at 8:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

michaelconnor

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Fishing around behind my desk today for a cable, I got to thinking; this tangled rat's-nest of power cables is a very obtuse means of power distribution.
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Sure it's all modular and isolates the noisy devices to some degree, but there's got to be a better way, right? I have over a dozen connected supplies for 5-12v low-power devices, and they each hardly warrant a dedicated supply, but I guess most people just use "whatever came in the box" without a second thought. Are there any other options here? Tesla had the right idea with AC for long-range power distribution, but within your house, why not have a few big DC sources?

I'm not intending to be whiny or cynical, or to make a profound point here. I'm just interested in seeing what may be out there, or what you guys think about home power-management. It just seems that power/cabling usually takes a back-seat to the aesthetics/performance of the stuff sitting on the desk.
 
Mar 18, 2006 at 9:06 PM Post #3 of 14

rickcr42

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Wrong forum,belongs in "accessories" but anyway......
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Pine board shelving cut to length and L-Brackets to mount everything then cable wraps/ties and split loom to organize the wires

cakewalk man
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Mar 18, 2006 at 9:15 PM Post #6 of 14

blip

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In house DC distribution is actually not that bad of an idea. Somewhat complicated though. You could try something similar to power over cat 5 if you wanted to. (Can't remember what the standard name is)

But lets see here, what voltages do you need? 12v and 5v probably. (Assuming that your 6v and 13v products can be undervolted a bit) It would be pretty simple to get a SMPS (any PC powersupply of a suitable size would do) and hack a few cables with proper ends to it. You're still using AC for house distribution but at least you have local area DC.
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 12:00 AM Post #7 of 14

michaelconnor

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Quote:

Originally Posted by hungrych
It's a freakin fire hazard like that!
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lol, and to think all that mess is just powering a 250W shuttle/LCD, a 15W laptop, a printer, and some PC accessories. I don't think there's any danger of overdrawing from the lines, but this is the way I've done things all through college...and a few of my roommates were far, far worse than me.

Quote:

Originally Posted by rickcr42
Pine board shelving cut to length and L-Brackets to mount everything then cable wraps/ties and split loom to organize the wires


That's a decent idea. Even some coat-hangers bolted onto the wall would give a lot more organizational options.
I guess I'm examining the need to have so many cables in the first place. For instance, a centralized DC source behind your desk could eliminate most of the AC lines and all of the wall-warts. That would take care of about 70% of the mess, and would probably be more power efficient too. Other than lamps and power tools, not many things in the modern office require AC. Could people get away with using just DC in their office space?
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 2:46 AM Post #8 of 14

star882

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Some server rooms use a 48v DC bus in addition to or instead of standard 120v AC.
For small 5v devices, we already have a standard: USB. (If you have been to any large electronics store lately, there's simply lots of gadgets that run from USB power.)

You can always build a mini distribution panel. Get some of those junction strips, connect it to a DC power supply, and start connecting devices to the strip. PC power supplies work nicely, although some may need a load to work.
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 2:50 AM Post #9 of 14

Thaddy

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I've been meaning to mount my 10-outlet Belkim power strip on the kick plate of my Ikea Jerker desk. This way, I'd have 1 cord to run to the wall from my desk, and all of my accessories can be neatly hid behind the steel support thing. Much more cleaner and nicer looking than even arranging the cables neatly on the floor...
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 3:40 AM Post #11 of 14

redshifter

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i recently unplugged all my computer and stereo components that were sharing the same 2-outlet plug. i do not have my power conditioner yet (thanks for the suggestions!), but i started by removing any daisy-chained power strips, and wall mounted the 3 power strips on the wall under my desk. i isolated the speaker cables from the power cords using pipe insulation, and created a twisted uber-cable tied with zip ties to all the pc components. the stereo equipment are all aligned in a single protected strip, and the wall warts are plugged in a strip specific to their form factor. all the stereo ic's are now also seperate from the power cords.

took me about 3 hours of constant work to manage these cords. the real villian here is adding devices over time without a system to manage cords.

almost all of the power cables are now off the ground, organized, and hopefully less prone to ignition.

working as an it engineer all these years has made me appreciate good cord managment. especially when your command center has 6 pc's on and under one desk!
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 4:56 AM Post #12 of 14

rickcr42

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Quote:

but i started by removing any daisy-chained power strips


potential recipe for disaster if the last segment of the daisy chain is not up to the combined peak amperage of everything from that point outward.
It gets worse if the outlet is not rated for high current and is sometimes a good idea to split up the distribution strips so the load is dispersed around the room rahter than at a single choke point that everything flows from.

the real test is to just reach down and feel the AC cords from time to time and if you feel a hot cord or a hot plug disconnect and relocate before you have an actual fire or meltdown at the plugs.Really does happen and my wife is the worst offender I know
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She plugs in and I go behind her unplugging and re-routing
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Me- "you trying to kill us all as we sleep ?"

The Wife "what do you think i keep you around for ? to "fix" things "

Me "not my charming nature and sunny personality ?"

The Ball and Chain "Pfffft ! Yeah Right !"

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Mar 19, 2006 at 6:17 AM Post #13 of 14

majid

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Try the PowerSquid, a power outlet that is specifically designed to accomodate wall-warts.
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I use a Metro rack, and have industrial-grade Tripp-Lite power strips (12 outlets, widely spaced) mounted to it. You can find them at McMaster-Carr (PDF link to the catalog page).
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 4:37 PM Post #14 of 14

rickcr42

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I usually get my best ideas from woodworking sites which being specialised more to the project,the plans and wood parts,means the "extras" are cheaper many times than if you go to a specialised electronics store or site.for example :

http://www.rockler.com/CategoryView.cfm?Cat_ID=199

But the caveat is : Watch that current draw and what you expect a single wall outlet to provide ! Realise everthing on that WALL and at times even in that room is all on a single daisy-chained wire that is looped from outlet to outlet with a couple having a dedicated switch.

If custom building a home or office space it is always a good idea to take this under consideration from tha start and provide dedicated "home runs" to the main panel for the computer and the audio systems so the lines will not only be clean (nothing else on them ) but have the highest ampere/hour capacity possible by having its own "serive" panel and breakers
 

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