Wiring and Power 101

When working with cables and wires, you may already notice how quickly things can get tangled up. In this post, I wanted to share my top tips in how to help make your setup organized, done right, and for an easy pack up.

These tips will work for just about any set up. Whether you’re hanging lights, using trusses or stand these tips be can used in any circumstance.

Give Your Wires Slack

When mounting your lights on a truss or stand, a very common mistake I see is not giving your lights enough wire slack. This is especially common for moving lights and doesn’t give them enough slack to move in certain positions.

A tip to help you when setting up is to first clamp your light down to the stand or truss so that it has a firm attachment and allows you to be able to work without holding on to the light.

Pointing your light at an extreme angle and then figure out how much cables and wiring you need to be able to set your light up in that position. This step will help you be able to give your light enough slack to move in positions without stretching anything.

Separate Your Cables and Wires

My next tip is more ideal for those using pipes and trusses for their lighting. Especially when using a truss it’s a common practice to just run the wires and cables across the top. The frustrating part of this is first it doesn’t take much for the cables to start getting tangles. Secondly, if and when there is an issue it’s much harder to track down the problem when everything is tangled together.

I often like using a product known as Tie Line, this is a great way to help wrap your cables and wires to keep everything separated and organized. The best way to get a good length is to wrap the tie line from hand to elbow and cut just one end. This will give you a good length and gives you a good size piece to tie up your cables and wires.

If working with a truss, tie up all of your power cables to one side of the truss. On the other side tie up your data wires for audio, video, lighting to the other side of the truss. Not only will you cables and wires be organized, it also makes for a quick and easy tear down process.

Use Looms When You Can

My next tip is using a loom when you can. One of my common go-to is friction tape. Using this method is especially good for those that have to constantly set up and tear down.

First, you want to layout your cables, wires, and lights the way that you plan on having them set up. You’re basically doing a mock-up for your cables and wires. Plug them in and make sure you have enough slack.

Starting at the end of the truss, pipe, or stand and use the friction tape to wrap up your cables. Loom up the center and then loom close to the end where everything will be plugged in.

Once you have everything loomed together you can then use friction or electrical tape to mark on the stand, truss, or pipe where the looms on the cables are. This way, each time you setup you can easily line up your cables and wires so that it’s set up the same every time.

A last tip is when you’re laying out your lights consider some options if it might be better for you to have DMX splitters or multiple outputs from a node or console. Using these can make your wiring a LOT simpler and therefore save you time and frustration (just as the rest of these tips do!)

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