Building custom snakes

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by MikeVB, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    I want to build a handful of custom snakes mainly for a few odd needs that would be overkill to buy commercially-available products but also just because I want to learn how to do it and find good sources for such projects.

    They will at least contain the following:

    1) one balanced XLR for mics
    2) one instrument cable (for guitar or bass)
    3) one TRS cable for attaching to headphones or a small, stand-mounted powered monitor.

    Anyone know good sources of quality materials, supplies, as well as soldering/hookup diagrams?

    Also can you use TRS cables for non-stereo instruments such as guitar and bass? Would it screw something up or cause ground hum or just simply be in mono whereas a keyboard would be in stereo on the same type cable?

    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    sure, try markertec (or tecnec, if you have a professional account), or try a manufacturer of snakes/cables such as whirlwind, cbi, or conquest.

    there is no such thing as "trs cable"...trs and xlr are simply the connectors at the end of the cable. you are going to want balanced cabling (a +, a -, and a ground), for _most_ of the cables you are asking about making.
     
  3. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    I usually get my cable supplies from Redco.

    Absolutely you can use balanced cable for unbalanced applications. I made up a bunch of guitar cords using leftover wire from my studio install. I grounded the extra wire to the shield, although you could just trim it back and ignore it. I would advise against using multiple wires for the + (tip) as it will increase capacitance (it won't damaged anything either way).
     
  4. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    as a side note, unless your time isn't worth that much to you, you may be better off just buying the cables you need. again, try markertec, or hosa. these cables take time to build and aren't as simple to build, without any experience, as one might think they would be.
     
  5. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    Look at the Whirlwind website.

    Also Redco for supplies, cable, connectors etc.

    You can google how to wire XLR, TRS etc.

    I would stick to T/S only for unbalanced and TRS for balanced and not mix them.

    You may find it is not so expensive to buy well made, ready made product from either of these suppliers. They know how to do it, have all the supplies on hand, have experienced people doing the work etc.

    There is more to it than just good soldering technique, which takes time to develop and almost requires a good tutor to examine your work and show you what you are doing right vs wrong. Bad technique, cold solder joints, poor mechanical assembly, etc all leads to problems and failures when you least want them to happen.

    A well made snake is a thing of beauty, is reliable and will last along time even under duress.
     
  6. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    Yeah, as an underemployed musician and stay-at-home Dad these days I have much more time than money unfortunately.

    Thanks for the help guys.
     
  7. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    i'd help ya out if you weren't so damn far away. i've made a ton of snakes and sub-snakes for my business. don't forget to order several sizes of heat shrink, and a heat shrink gun...as well as a clamp to hold parts in place, and a half decent soldering iron (although i've found that the $10 radio shack one that goes from 15w to 30w is my favorite to use). oh, and solder!
     
  8. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    So is the sleeving that comes on commercial snakes just large-sized heatshrink basically? Any suggestion for knowing what size sleeving should be put over a certain number and size of cables?

    I've got a great soldering iron, a Hakko FX-888. Put my little 25w Weller to shame.
     
  9. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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  10. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    You can use Mogami 2549 for all your needs-a great balanced mic cable (connect the extra wire to ground for unbalanced applications).
     
  11. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    What about using 4-channel versions of this snake cable? Then I wouldn't have to worry with heat shrink other than at cable ends, right?
    http://www.mogamicable.com/category/bulk/snake/
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  12. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    if you truly want a custom order for a snake, i can make you pretty much any type of snake your heart desires. all it takes is giving me *exact* details of what you want, lengths, what connector to what, brand preferences, etc., i i can have one of the shop guys bust one out for you in a day or two, assuming we have all the parts you need in the shop. if you want to send details, pm me and i'll work up a price and an eta for ya.
     
  13. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    I really appreciate that, but a lot of this is just a desire to learn and do it myself. Although, I don't want to spend anymore than I have to spend.
     
  14. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    This Mogami snake cable would work for me wouldn't it?
    http://www.mogamicable.com/category/bulk/snake/
     
  15. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    if what you wrote above this is what you are trying to build, then yeah, that mogami cable would work, but you only need 3 channels to make what you described above. you will also want small (24 gauge or so) heatshrink for each individual wire, plus a piece of bigger heatshrink (16 gauge or so, perhaps) on each end to cover the spot where the rubber is cut in order to get to the individual wires. ya dig? you only need about 1' of the bigger size and maybe 3' of the smaller size to do it right.
     
  16. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    Yes, that is Mogami snake cable. However, as one of the other folks recommended, because you are doing a small number of channels, I would recommend using individual cables and bundling them together. Terminating snake cable with individual connectors doesn't offer the integrity you can get from individual cables, or at least it's harder to do well.

    Snake cable is good for terminating to stage boxes and rear of equipment racks, consoles etc where they are permanent installations.

    If you are going to be moving things around much, you will have problems with a snake over time. If one wire gets damaged inside, you're screwed with the whole snake.
     
  17. MikeVB

    MikeVB Supporting Member

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    Good point about damage. What's a good way to bundle together a smaller number of individual channels? I don't want use cable ties, velcro, etc. Want something that cover all of it and look decent.

    Read a lot about Neutrik connectors. Are they the brand to use?
     
  18. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    don't get hung up about brand names. switchcraft, neutrik, whatever...just be consistent and the same brand throughout. and i tend to agree with the others...if you are only making this snake for only 3 cables, just make 3 individual cables as opposed to a snake. it'll make your life easier in the short and long runs.
     
  19. Reincaster

    Reincaster Member

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    Agree on the damage. We use a Horizon 8 channel box for two gigs a week, every week, and I do have to set aside time to check the fan-ends (The box end is usually good because I give it some slack, and the wires have a compression fitting like speakons). Most all damage happens in the xlr ends because we break down and setup frequently.

    I'm planning to just bundle a bunxh of xlr's and use Tech Flex to keep it together.
     
  20. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    See Post #9.
     

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