Home Made Snake
By John Fisher
After some practicing our band was beginning to do more and more public shows. It seems that when this happens, I am not only one of the performers but because of any technical knowledge I may have, I also turn into the sound technician, repair man and more then oft, the roady. Flattery will get them nowhere. Ha!
After a couple of performances, certain needs became more obvious. One of the obvious needs was a snake to more conveniently reach the mixing board from the stage. Up until now, there was a mass of wires that pervaded the stage on their way to the mixer. Something needed to be done quick. Because of the need and some materials that I had on hand I got the inspiration to put together a snake.
I got encouraged to try adapting the aluminum tubing idea that I use on one my home made effects pedals as a sort of patch bay on the end of the snake that goes to the stage.
This snake is about 30 feet long. It has 6 LXR balanced microphone inputs and 8 quarter inch jack inputs.
The plastic tubing
I got some soft thin flexible 1" tubing from a place that sells tubing for wiring automobiles. This tubing is fairly cheap and comes in many sizes. In my particular case 1" tubing was just right but it was a miracle that I was able to get the wires through it. So if you ever make such a thing you need to make sure the wires will fit ok first.
After spreading out all the wires that I was going to use. I attached a long thin piece of flat wire to one end of all the wires. I twisted it in such a way that I knew it would not come off then I put a bit of electrical tape around it so that the connection would have less chance of snagging on anything. I then got the other end of the flat wire that was just a bit longer than the plastic tubing and fed it through the tubing. I was able to little by little, pull the wires through. I got 2 other people to help me, one on each end and one in the middle, to little by little get them through.
Here is the box that I made out of some square aluminum tubing. It is the same stuff they use for aluminum doors and windows. I bought about 3 feet of it for about $3. It is 3-1/4" wide by 1-1/2" high and comes in different sizes. I used the same tubing to make boxes for guitar effect pedals. Check out my "Home page" for the article on it. I used about 10" of the tubing for this project.
Here is the bottom of the box. I cut a large square hole in it to install all the jacks and have access to connect all the wires. I was fortunate to have some high quality Switchcraft 1/4" jacks that I got off some junk that I had but you can use just normal 1/4" mono jacks. I then covered the square hole with a piece of sheet metal.
I made a hole slightly bigger than the cable for the cable to go into the box, then I used a piece of rubber from a mouse pad to go around the cable at the entrance of the box to protect the cable from being cut by the metal box. I clamped the cable down inside the box with a small strip of metal and 2 nuts and bolts that were fastened to the box.
You may wonder what to do about covering the 2 ends of the square tubing. I got some thick plexyglass and cut 2 square pieces that fit snugly on each of the 2 ends. I shielded the inside surface with copper shielding tape but you can even just glue on some aluminum foil if you like. You can even use wood instead of plexigass and that would work fine.
For the outside surface of the ends I got some rubber from an old inner tube and glued it on, which actually made it look real good on the outside. The conductive foil is slightly folded over to make electrical contact with the aluminum tubing for electrical shielding purposes. I then drilled small holes through the ends into the edges of the plexiglass to use small screws to hold fasten the ends to the box.
It actually came out looking real nice and after using it in several shows, it has worked very well. People don't even realize that it's home made.
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