Taming the Cable Octopus

Discussion in 'I made this!' started by Matt Rogers, Jun 17, 2013.

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  1. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Berkeley, CA
    Many beautiful reef aquariums often have an ugly underbelly of power cables and cords criss-crossed among numerous power strips. Not only is this cable octopus monstrosity dangerous, but it certainly slows down maintenance routines as you hunt for the right cord. My tank was no different - there were timers on top of power strips on top of power supplies. Embarrassed, I hid it all behind cabinet next to the aquarium. But as I inevitably added more equipment, the issue became unbearable. I had to do something. Inspiration struck with a piece of scrap wood from the garage. Follow along for a little DIY cord cleanup.

    [​IMG]
    The Problem

    [​IMG]
    The Solution

    It all started when I received my Reef Angel controller. It came with this giant relay box for controlling up to 8 power cords. I just stared at that thing and the electrical mess behind my cabinet, scratching my head. "How am I going to make this work?" Then I noticed the screw holes on each corner of the relay box. "Perhaps if I side-mounted the relay box above the existing cable octopus, I could actually reduce clutter by organizing the cords." I was on to something. By plugging most everything into the relay box, I could get rid of two power strips. The bonus with having the controller is that I could get rid of the timers as well.

    Now I just had to figure out how to mount that heavy relay box. The back of my cabinet was just that flimsy press board. That wouldn't work. Then I remembered I still had a box of wood screws in the garage. There were already a few of those screws in this cabinet holding up a thick piece of wood I fitted as a shelf for the ATO water reservoir. With another piece of wood cut to size and a few of those screws going into the wood sides of the cabinet, I bet I could make my mount. After a quick measurement, I was off to the garage.

    It didn't take long to find some scrap wood in the back of the garage. It was already painted on one side and the wood was in pretty good shape with about the same width as the relay box. After a quick cut with the jig saw to length, I was back in the house.

    Putting it all together

    Placing the wood on a table, I then figured out where I wanted the relay box to go and marked the drill holes with a pencil. I also drilled the holes for the mounting screws on each corner of the wood board.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Then I took the piece of wood and started placing it on the back of the cabinet, getting a feel for the right height. After determining the height, I held the wood in place making fine adjustments with a level and then clamped it in place. This allowed me to mark the holes with a marker for drilling the cabinet. Taking off the wood, I drilled my starter holes for the mounting screws.

    [​IMG]

    Placing the wood board back on the table, I screwed on the relay box. Then I returned to the cabinet where I screwed the board into place.

    [​IMG]

    This DIY day dream was coming together but one last item remained.

    Looking down, I had gotten rid of the power strips and timers, but I still had the vortech power supplies laying there. Looking up, I still had a lot of room on that board.

    It was at this point that my improv DIY went into overdrive. Making connections between recent hardware purchases, I was back in the garage.

    The first item secured was a once-used grommet kit. My idea was to make a strap to hold the power supplies. The grommets would be needed to secure the strap to the wood board. But what was I going to use for the strap? I started scanning the garage. Quickly my eyes settled on some scrap drawer-liner from a tool chest. The liner is stretchy yet strong, made from synthetic rubbery God-knows-what. How absolutely perfect. It looked like I had just enough.

    Back in the house I set up my cobble shop. After cutting the liner to length and folding it over for strength, I began pounding out grommets.

    [​IMG]
    A seldom-used grommet ket was key.

    Strap in hand, I screwed it onto the board, keeping the strap taught but with enough room to stretch to fit the power supplies.

    Check it out!

    [​IMG]
    (The pH probe shown on top was put later in the sump)

    The strap worked really well and was a nice final touch to a clean job. The power strips and timers were gone. Inspired, I made one last strap with the remaining liner and mounted my Vortech controllers inside the cabinet with screws drilled into the back side of my wood board.

    [​IMG]


    The Cable Octopus has been tamed.

    matt





    Want to do it yourself?

    You can do something similar with a big power strip instead of a relay box and clean up all those cords under the tank.

    Items you may need:

    • Appropriately sized piece of wood
    • quick clamps
    • wood screws
    • drill
    • pencil and markers
    • level
    • grommet kit
    • hammer
    • tool chest drawer-liner
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2013
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  3. Ryan Duchatel

    Ryan Duchatel Millepora

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    Very nice matt. Great idea. I might give that a go!
     
  4. jimmy_beaner

    jimmy_beaner Teardrop Maxima Clam

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    Pretty cool idea. About the only recommendation my OCD self would have is to paint the board to match the stand. I am also working on my own cable octopus... granted I mounted mine on the side of my canopy and routed the wires behind the tank (but, I'm a bit of a techy and I love fiddling with the tank).
     
  5. FatBastad

    FatBastad Zoanthid

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    Nice.

    I actually plan on buying one of the 8 switch "rack mount" DJ type power supplies tonight.
    I can't take the octopus any longer and I'm not splurging for a controller yet!
     
  6. DBOSHIBBY

    DBOSHIBBY Sleeper Shark

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    looks great matt!
    i use the DJ power center on my tank and that really cleans everything up well.
    seems like you got everything in order though!
     
  7. 2in10

    2in10 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well done Matt.
     
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  9. Jake

    Jake Sea Dragon

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    Nice job Matt, looks good and is safe... This kind if thing is too often neglected in the hobby. It prevents accidents and makes maintenance easier. Win-win!

    +1 on the DJ power strip... Again it just makes maintenance easier by allowing you to quickly turn things on/off. Plus it hides cords and is easy to mount under a stand.

    I'm interested in seeing how that Reef Angel works out for you too.
     
  10. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Thanks Ryan. Good luck. Shoot me a pic if you do.

    Thanks Jimmy. I didn't paint the board to match as you can't see it after I pushed the cabinet back in place, but I hear ya!

    Very timely - I hope this helps!

    Those DJ power centers are slick. It is nice to have the on/off switches. That is a good route to go if you don't have a controller.

    Thanks John!

    Thank you and agreed.
    ] Overall, I love the Reef Angel so far. Look for a write up soon.

    matt
     
  11. Renee@LionfishLair

    Renee@LionfishLair 3reef Sponsor

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    Beautiful. I love when things look all purdy.

    Has anyone else had trouble with their DJ sets? I just ordered a replacement, but I've had two of the 8 switch ones malfunction so far. One was only 6 months old. There's nothing big and powerful on there.
     
  12. jimmy_beaner

    jimmy_beaner Teardrop Maxima Clam

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    My number 9 switch leaks voltage into the tank if I use it. Not sure why.