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How Big Is Your Cable Collection?

cable collection

So, just how big is your cable collection? Did you even realize you had become a collector? Do you even know all the cables you have?

My USB cable collection shown above barely scratches the surface. I have another seven boxes of cables lovingly curated over the past several decades. Why do I keep them?

Almost everything you buy these days comes with a USB cable, or at least needs one. In addition to connectivity, many electronic devices now rely on 5V for charging. You will most often find power provided by a USB cable and SMPS (wall wart.) As you can see in my collection above, many better cables come with in-line chokes, which by the way do nothing to reduce RFI at HF. Many are shielded, which helps a bit more.

And, of course, we have a proliferation of different USB jacks and plugs. Life used to be simple with just the A and B types, but now we have all sorts of micro and mini A and B designs, as well as the new C which my phone uses. Generally, I just hang my USB cables on a coat hook on the back of the door in my lab, as well as a few adapters and Y splitters.

But wait, there’s more.

I have several boxes with audio cables, coaxial cables, power cables, serial cables and even parallel printer cables. Then, there are VGA, DVI and HDMI cables. I even have a large box of unused power supplies of various voltages and vintages. All, or at least many, may come in handy one day. Or will we just move to new types of cables and adapters instead?

Cable Collection Management

I try to sort and store my cable collection by type in separate containers. Long cables get controlled with zip ties. And if anyone calls to inquire “do you have an extra…cable”, my answer is usually yes and I can put my hands on one quickly. Quite frankly, I don’t even want most returned.

By the way, old cables can be a good source of small gauge wire for different projects, typically 22 to 26 AWG and typically in different colors. Especially so for all printer and VGA cables which often contain up to 25 wires.

Until recently, I have been in the habit of cutting off power cables (three prong) when I recycle old electronics or appliances. These provided heavier gauge wires, but I think I now have enough to last forever.

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