Great tips for taming cables

Lifehacker's got a good post linking to ten great ways to get your cables under control. My favorite is this charging station built into a cardboard filing box, from Two Loose Teeth. Link


  1. Finally, an easy to cause component failure or fires from overheating! I’ll stick to zip ties.

  2. Suggestion… put a full size, half high platform in the box, chargers below with the devices on the platform inside the box. All contained. Maybe a few portholes for heat and noise exchange?

  3. I stash my power strip underneath an upended milk crate, and thread necessary cables up through the grating (and the power cable out a handle and to a wall socket). excess slack in the cables running up to my desk gets pulled down into the crate, where it stays. I’ve got two external drives and an unused iBook sitting on top of the crate, so it’s a useful component stand as well.

    Plenty of ventilation for the strip and wall warts, and it keeps that big mess out of sight. Cables coming up out of the crate get twist-tied together for neatness’s sake.

  4. Very good idea, very bad implementation.

    For one, this is a fire hazard. Cardboard + heat from charging = ruin your day.

    Additionally, wall warts have a nasty tendency to drain power when they are not charging anything. True, you can turn the power switch off when its not in use, but odds are you aren’t charging 5 gadgets at once, so your unused warts are draining while your iPod is charging.

    Nice idea, though- if we could solve the fire hazard and juice draining issues, I’d make one this weekend.

  5. My first impression was of a trunk used to cage a modern, office based kraken. You can just see a few of its tentacles reaching out through the ports, searching for morsels of food or the limbs of anyone foolish enough to get too close.

    Heck, I might have to uild and decorate one of these.

  6. “wall warts have a nasty tendency to drain power when they are not charging anything.”

    pray elucidate

  7. “pray elucidate”

    Some gadget chargers (“wall warts”) will continue to use electricity- even when they are not charging something- if they are plugged into a wall outlet.

    An easy way to test is to plug a wart in and let it sit “idly” for, say, half an hour. Did it get hot? If yes, then it is using electricity. (The heat is proportional to the current- more heat= more current.)

    Admittedly, most modern warts draw very little electricity when only plugged into an outlet and not a device, but this is still some electricity that you are paying for and it is still some heat that can contribute to the flammable cardboard box in which you are potentially storing your charging station.

    Best advice? Unplug those warts you are not using to reduce waste of electricity and reduce the risk of fire.

  8. I dunno– I get hours of entertaining “puzzle time” out of trying to untangle my rat’s-nest-style cable storage system.

  9. Something kike this would be great to keeps kids off the power bar. We have ours jammed behind desks, etc. Not very convenient.

  10. THE STEVE, you took the words right off my fingertips on both subjects. Electricity+heat holding box made of flammable materials. Probably nothing will happen, but why take the chance?

    I shall elucidate as well my dear Boinger. Search for vampire power, which is the buzz word for electricity wasted on the growing number of gadgets that suck power when they are supposedly asleep in their coffins but instead are running a clock, on standby, or whatever. I’ve read that most people pay more in electricity for the microwave’s clock than microwaving food. I’m not sure I believe that, but the clock does run 24/7 (very small but constant trickle of power) and we only use the microwave once or twice a day at most and never for more than 5 minutes or so. When the energy crash hits, and the price of power is out of control, then people will really start worrying about vampire power.

  11. a block transformer energized on the primary should not create any draw if the appliance it serves is switched off. Any pilot light or clock loads should measure in the low milliampere range.

  12. Yeah. Cable boxes have been the most egregious offender for at least a decade. You could slow-poach an egg on your cable box even when it’s turned off.

  13. ” set-top boxes are always on for two reasons: because they constantly talk with satellite/cable companies to download program info and because this makes it harder for pirates to steal signals.”


  14. Takuan, most wall warts these days are not transformers but rather switched-mode supplies (which also should draw no power).

    However, the operative word here is “should”; since the feature is basically invisible to consumers, it doesn’t generally get much attention from the manufacturers.

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