Author Topic: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable  (Read 2491 times)

Offline nickap

Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« on: April 15, 2015, 07:08:48 PM »
Hi all - I've just started making my own cable snake for my DM10 kit, and I figured I'd post some info and pix as I go along. The idea is to use CAT7 network cable instead of regular audio cable. I've used network cable in the past for audio and it works great - the signal (in my experience) is usually very clear, and you get 4 twisted pairs of wire, so you can have multiple signals going down a single length of cable. You can use CAT5 or CAT6; I'm going with CAT7 because each individual pair or wires is shielded - some of the others only have one piece of shielding around the whole 8 wires, or no shielding at all. The downside of the CAT7 is that it is more expensive (but still not bad) and it's a little thicker. But I figured it would be worth the downsides to have the cleanest signal possible.

I found the cheapest CAT7 cable I could get was actually as a ready-made network cable - of course I donít need the connectors, so I just cut those off, and then I could cut lengths of cable as I needed them.


Since the cable has 8 wires, you can connect 2 TRS triggers and one TS trigger with each length of cable. So I figured out how to divide up the kit so I could use as few pieces of cable as possible, and then measured how to cut the cable so I could run just the length needed for each set of triggers. You can see the first cable is going to run to the hi-hat, the snare, and crash cymbal #1 - for that one I needed 7Ē between the module and the Ďbodyí of the cable, then 10Ē of cable, then individual sets of wires running 8Ē to the snare and hi-hat, and 20Ē up to the crash.


Working on the snare / hi-hat / crash cable: here is what the cable looks like when you strip off the outer plastic - these are the 4 twisted pairs with the foil shielding around each pair.


Now I have the wires all cut to length - the 7Ē wires are at the bottom, and the 8Ē and 20Ē stretches at the top. Since I need 3 sets of wires for the snare and crash (since they  use TRS connectors), I had to split one pair of wires to supply the third wire for those triggers. The hi-hat has a TS connector so I just needed one pair of wires for that one. (Note - the individual wires are unfortunately not all different colors; in each pair there is one white wire plus a colored wire. So it means that when you split pairs of wires to make TRS sets, you are going to end up in some cases with two white wires going to the same connector. I found it was very helpful to have a multimeter handy to make sure that when I got to actually soldering the connectors, everything was wired correctly.)


I bought a bunch of 5mm heat shrink tubing, and used pieces of that to enclose each set of wires. Then I soldered on all the connectors, using the multimeter to make sure I had everything wired up right.




This is the only cable section that I have all put together so far, but Iíve tested this one out and itís working perfectly. The plan is to make all 4 cables, and then fasten them together with black electricianís tape to make a single snake. Iíve ordered some black velcro straps, and Iíll use these to fasten the finished cable to the rack. I think the final result will look pretty good because there should be no extra wire hanging, since the pieces are all cut more-or-less to length, and it should be pretty easy to remove and reattach for gigs. And while the finished snake will be fairly thick near the module because all 4 cables will be fastened together at that point, it will be thinner as you get to the more distant pads - because the first cable stops after the 1st crash, the next one stops after tom2, the third one stops at the ride cymbal and so on. Itís going to take me a while to get the whole thing done - but Iíll post photos when itís finished.

Offline Trondster

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2015, 12:55:41 AM »
Question: would it be possible to have a common ground wire? It may be that for example the sleeve is shared across all the inputs. If so you could use the cable for more triggers - the eight wires could be used for three TRS and one TS.

Could be interesting to try. :)
DM10 Pro kit with dampened rack, extra crashes, mesh heads, Gibraltar stands, P2002C and a dream cherry snare by Diamond Drums.

Offline nickap

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2015, 07:22:20 AM »
I bet that would work - in fact there is an extra ground wire in the cable, which I haven't been using - I've just been cutting it off. You'd have to figure a way to extend that common wire to all of the plugs, which might be a little tricky, but certainly not impossible.

Offline nickap

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2015, 04:58:02 PM »
Finished! (Well, almost - I'm going to mark each of the connectors with a different color dot of paint, so I know which one plugs in where - for now I have them marked with bits of electrician's tape.) So I've replaced this:


with this:


Here are some photos of how it looks installed. I have it fastened in place with velcro straps, which make it really easy to remove when I need to move the kit.














Offline Sal

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2015, 09:15:39 AM »
So...

1. Does it work?

2. Was this worth it?

3. Why would someone switch from the stock snake to this?
Here this whole time I thought you were the troll with a heart of gold. Instead you're just a troll with a real troll's heart.

Offline nickap

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2015, 09:25:54 AM »
Answers:

1. Yes, perfectly.

2. For me, yes. I much prefer this snake to the original one, and the cost (about $50) was a lot less than one of the original snakes. Plus I still have the original, so now I have a backup in case I have any trouble with the new one during a gig. It took a few hours to put it together, but it wasn't hard.

3. The look of this one is cleaner than the original by far, because all the individual cables were cut exactly to length - there is virtually no extra cable dangling down anywhere. The original snakes are made with a lot of extra length in there, probably because Alesis is allowing for people to move parts of the kit around and/or add other pieces - they make it extra-long for added flexibility, which makes sense. But once you've figured out how you like everything positioned, IMHO there's no reason to still have all that extra cable looking messy and getting in the way.

Another approach to this might be to take the original snake, then crop down the individual cables to the right length, and solder new plugs on the end. That would save some money, but you'd still have to buy the new plugs, you'd still have quite a lot of work to do - and at the end you'd still only have one snake, whereas with building one from scratch you have that one plus the original one as a backup. Makes sense to me.  :)

Offline avantgarde120

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2015, 12:53:18 PM »
Great Job nickap!Will have to give this a try too if i have the time.It really cleans up the look..Thanks for the great idea.

Offline nickap

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2015, 11:03:44 AM »
You're welcome - I hope it works out for you. As an update, I've taken the set to several gigs since I set up the new snake, and it's proving to be very reliable and easy to use. I actually don't detach it from the frame when I move the kit - I have all of the plugs (at each end of the cable) marked with spots of different colored paint, and so I just disconnect the pads and the module, then move the frame with the snake attached (with velcro straps), and then reattach everything once I'm at the venue. Works out fine, though I wish I'd allowed just an inch or so of extra cable where the frame sections join, because the cables are too short to allow the frame to be 'folded' easily. But overall, I'm very happy with it.

Offline Dartanbeck

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2018, 07:53:04 PM »
Very cool mod!
Alesis DM10X Mesh

Offline nickap

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2018, 07:08:17 AM »
Thanks! I'm happy to report that in close to 3 years now, I've only ever had one problem with this cable - and that was the time I forgot to unplug one of the cymbals before I removed it from the frame - pulled hard on the cable and had to re-solder it afterward. Other than that, not a single bad connection or issue the whole time, and I've taken the kit to many gigs.

Offline Dartanbeck

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2018, 09:11:04 PM »
Sweet!!! I was actually wondering that: How well the CAT7 would hold up to all of that folding/unfolding.

I really love how tiny the diameter of the full snake turns out being. Even more... I love the ability to custom size every cable!

Great work!
Alesis DM10X Mesh

Offline Kevin Head

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2018, 06:21:05 AM »
Good idea. Looks like a great alternative.

I still don't have a backup plan, but I bought 1" cable loom and all the excess fits inside it, especially at the far end for the last cymbals.

I'm going to need a back up anyway as I'm rigging some more toms and kick together to keep at home. May actually turn into a second kit for a second band, too. So you're plan is definitely an option.

Offline Dobly

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2018, 11:54:48 PM »
Question: would it be possible to have a common ground wire? It may be that for example the sleeve is shared across all the inputs. If so you could use the cable for more triggers - the eight wires could be used for three TRS and one TS.
Could be interesting to try. :)

I bet that would work - in fact there is an extra ground wire in the cable, which I haven't been using - I've just been cutting it off. You'd have to figure a way to extend that common wire to all of the plugs, which might be a little tricky, but certainly not impossible.

I am going to try something like this soon.. Still in the planning stage. I was wondering too about the common ground. So it IS possible but like nicklap said , it would be tricky.  I'll let you know what I work out.

Offline Dobly

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2018, 12:06:43 AM »
Do you think is it necessary to use shield cable for piezo's? Actually.. I'm pretty sure the cables that came with the DM10 or not shielded.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 12:13:22 AM by Dobly »

Offline Dobly

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2018, 07:08:59 PM »
Do you reckon a common earth could work like this??


Offline nickap

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2018, 11:55:05 AM »
I would think that would be fine. You'd just have to figure out the best way to physically make that work.

Offline Dobly

Re: Making Custom Cable Snake Using CAT7 Cable
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2018, 04:38:56 PM »
I would think that would be fine. You'd just have to figure out the best way to physically make that work.

I have a plan. :)