My desk is covered with colorful plastic gizmos that almost completely fail to do the job.
We all know the fundamental laws of the physical world: Newtonís first law of motion (a body in motion stays in motion), the second law of thermodynamics (randomness in an isolated system increases), Faradayís law of electromagnetism (a changing magnetic field induces a current in a wire), and more. To this list, I would add another: the first law of consumer electronics cabling, which holds that any two wires laid side by side will immediately tangle the minute the user glances away. Itís an effect that worsens the thinner and more pliable the cable. (The second law of consumer electronics cabling is that any wire on the desktop will immediately fall behind the desk if left unattached, with a likelihood directly proportional to the difficulty of moving the desk to retrieve it.)
I think thereís a physics PhD in this.
Iíve been thinking a lot about this topic because I have way too many cords to wrangleóearbuds, USB cables, headset cables, electrode cablesóand spend far too much time untangling them rather than writing thoughtful, well-researched technical pieces like this one. I have spent a lot of time on the web investigating different options without any particular success.
I started out with this little guy from Blue Lounge, which works splendidly for my USB phone charger but didnít have the capacity for longer cables or to handle higher-gauge cables.
Next up, these little bones, which looked promising but when they showed up, they were only by the 16th of an inch wide at the edge. That meant that repeated winding and unwinding had the potential to damage the cable, plus they wouldnít work well for anything more than a foot or two long. In addition, the little slits for putting in the cable were tight enough that I had to put a lot of stress on the cable to pull it through. None of this boded well for a long-term solution.
Now, Iíd been looking for a multi-cord solution, but at this point I was beginning to lose faith a bit and thought I would investigate an ear-bud-centric solution. The design below was developed through Quirky, a crowd-funding development site. Although itís designed for earbuds, I thought it might work for some electric wires I need to keep control of. Had a bevy of positive reviews, so I thought it might be The One. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Once again, there was that tight bend radius issue, plus the plastic was stiff enough that I felt like I was stressing the wires every time I push them into their little holding channel.
My sister pointed me toward the Cable Turtle, which had the advantage of appearing to be a multi-cord solution. Alas, it doesnít have nearly the capacity a person might hope for, plus it has its own bend radius problemóonce a cable inside it for any length of time, it winds up hopelessly curled. Choosy? Why, yes I am.
So, as of this writing, I have broken down and purchased a set of Recoil Winders. They ainít cheap, but they use a spring-actuated motion to automatically coil up cords in seconds into a tidy little package that can be put into a keeper. Iím eagerly waiting for them to arrive and will report on their performance.
In the meantime, does anybody out there have a better solution? It needs to be something that can handle different lengths of cords and allow them to be wound up in just a few seconds. If youíve found something you like, Iíd love to test it out.
In between working on my PhD thesis.