I'm afraid this post isn't some deep allegorical tale. It is, quite literally, about how to coil a cable. I recorded a video version too, in that's your preference. I haven’t done a YouTube video in about 8 years and I screwed up the sound on this — it’s very quiet, sorry! If you subscribe rest assured future videos won’t suffer that fate!

Since January, here in the UK, we've been in another national lockdown due to Covid. As such, with working from home and also recording video courses, I've been spending a bit of time trying to get my 'office' presentable.

I got as far as this:

Getting there but the keyboard cables
Getting there but the keyboard cables were ruining my sense of desk zen

Which I'm pretty happy with. Recent additions/improvements being the BenQ 3200u screen. As it's got a built in KVM, it means my personal Mac Mini can be hidden from view — mounted under the desk with a bracket and I can switch easily between home/work systems.

Anyway, the thing that still bothered me was those cables from keyboard to monitor:

Incidentally, I bought a right angle USB adapter for a few quid that means I can also use the USB port on the side of the monitor without the cable sticking right out! Now it trails more gracefully down, leaving a USB port free at the back for next unforeseen item I need to add 👍

So, yes, primarily that folded up cable from the ErgoDox EZ keyboard to the monitor and to a lesser extent, the one between the two halves, was ruining my new found desk-zen sensibilities! I decided I wanted the cables coiled instead.

I'd seen that Andreas Tacke had done this when reading the ErgoDox newsletter — which I have to say is well worth subscribing to, regardless of your interest in ergonomic keyboards — his setup is described here. So I thought I'd have a go at doing this for myself. What remains is a simple walk-through of the process.

Tools needed

  • Heat gun or hairdryer — as you might imagine I tend to not have a hairdryer nearby so I'm using a heatgun.
  • A large screwdriver or wooden dowel. I used a drum-stick; fallout from another failed hobby!
  • electrical, or preferably heatproof tape. This is the stuff I used.

Technique

  • Tape one end of the cable to be coiled to one end of the dowel/screwdriver.
  • Tightly coil the remaining cable around, very snug and very tight! You don't want any gaps between the coils.
  • Tape the other end of the cable to the other end. Remember, you may want to leave a section straight. I wanted a section like this for the one to my monitor, but not the TRRS cable between each half of the ErgoDox EZ.
  • The moment of truth. Now heat up the cable. Obviously this is a little tricky. How much is enough? You don't want to melt the cable but I can't just tell you 'Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes'. You'll have to use your judgement. Be especially careful if using a heatgun because you don't want to damage the integrity of the cable in anyway. So, err on the side of caution. I thought about wearing gloves as I want to look after the digits I have left but in the end decided against it as the heat would be a useful indication of how much I was heating the cable.
  • Do it once and let it cool. You'll need somewhere to set it down too. The couch probably isn't the best idea. I used a breadboard.
  • After 20 minutes or so, repeat the process. Let it cool again.
  • Un-tape the ends and slide out the dowel. You should have yourself a nicely coiled cable.
  • Plug it in and test it works.
  • Feel a degree of smugness and inner calm.
Coiled cables
Much better! Especially the one going to the monitor