Making normal cables into springy cables

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This is a trick I learned from an episode of the show “How It’s Made” about telephone cords. If you remember land-lines, you may remember the curly cable that often connected handsets to the base. This coily-ness is convenient because it is almost like a self-retraction feature.

You can add this effect to most cables through a fairly simple process.

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Start with a messy cable. This is the cable I use to connect my phone to my car stereo.

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Wrap the cable tightly around a dowel or something thin and round. Use masking tape to hold the ends. If you want a section of the cable to be straight before the plugs, be sure to tape it off at that point.

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Now hit it with a heat gun. A hair dryer would probably work. You want to heat it until the plastic is soft and almost too hot to touch. You shouldn’t see any melting or smell any strong plastic smell. If you do, that’s too hot! Back it off.

I do not have pictures of the next part. I think I can explain well enough.. it is actually the most important part of the process. Without this step the cable will not have any “spring” to it and all your work will be undone as soon as you stretch out the cable.

After it cools, take the cable off the dowel. Clamp, or have someone hold, one end. Put the other end in a power drill chuck, just snug enough to hold. Now run the drill so that the coil you have put into the cable UNWINDS COMPLETELY, and then starts to re-wind up backwards. This is the trick. Your cable will now be wound in the other direction, and not very tight or lovely.

The final step is to put it back on the dowel, nice and tight, and then heat it up just like before. Now when it cools and you remove it, it’s ready for use and should stay springy for a very long time.

As I said, you can coil all kinds of cables. I did it with some RS-232 cables in school, making me the envy of all the other students (hahaha no not really, nobody cared!).

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