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ace_master

Does anyone use cable labeling systems for display managment?

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This is my first year doing a display and I'm trying to plan ahead for storage when I have to start taking things apart in the spring... Does anyone use a label printing device to label their strings/cords/display items...? I'm thinking about ordering a Brother PT2730 Labeler to make things as easy as I can for long term, but I thought I would see how everyone else manages their stuff.

http://www.brother-usa.com/PTouch/ModelDetail.aspx?ProductID=PT2730&WT.svl=featuredlink2&WT.ad=Zone2_BMG_PT2730_View&WT.AC=Zone2_BMG_PT2730_Click

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colored electrical tape and sharpie. Honestly the plugs are what I label, and then I zip tie the like cables together. Left group of mini tree's, Right group of mini tree's...etc

Then when I wrap them up onto the spools, and write on the spool, what cables are inside.

Just my method. Many people think about using a label maker, but forget when it comes time to actually make all those labels.

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Being my first year, I wanted to make things more permanent and easier for the following years. In terms of labeling, here is what I did:

Extension cords - I used small zip ties that have a 1" x 1" tag on them (zip ties made for labeling) - I placed a zip tie on both ends of the cord (only 1 zip tie on shorter 2 conductor cords) and I labeled each end of each cord with its length and the gauge wire. When I go to use them, I quickly know which extension cords I want to use from outlet to LOR controller (14g or thicker), and which extension cords I want to use from controller output to lights (16g). This also helps when others are helping me set up - I can just say "Use whatever length extension cord you need from THAT pile." This way my helpers aren't using my good thick cords for individual channels.

For the LOR controllers - I bought most of my controllers in "need to be put together" state. For those I did use a Brother label maker to label the channels on the output cords, just like LOR does from the factory.

For my lights - There was usually a tag on them, so I just used a sharpie to put what color and what controller output # they should go to as I set them up. I see this changing from year to year, so that is a less permanent solution.

As for storage, I find that simply coiling extension cords around my arm and then zip tying them in two places keeps them nice and compact, but for my gobs of lights, huge spools that I get from work are really awesome - they keep the strands straight and untangled for the most part, and they store easily, much better than tupperware containers.

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I am using the Brother printer. I need reading glasses to see and the Brother prints large enough for me not to need them when sorting. Plus, I have my 12 year old print up the labels...keeps her occupied and involved.

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I use 100 18 gallon rubbermaid totes number marked with a sharpie marker. I inventory all the contents and then put it on an excell spread sheet.

Now if you get really creative you can get different colors and use one color for controllers another for cords and so on...only problem is if you have a huge display you run out of colors so the number and inventory works better for me.

Over the years I have found that most labels do not stick very well to some of the plastics and tend to peel off over time.

Anthony

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My first two years, I used the labeling machine. A lot of my controllers are still labeled like that. Takes lots of time, but produces a fairly nice result.

Of course now, in 2010 ... I used high quality yellow electrical tape and a black sharpie. I find the electrical tape MUCH better personally because:

(1) I can write the numbers a lot BIGGER

(2) I can easily find the cord ends (because of the yellow tape) and then writing the number in about 3-4 spots on the female cord end (tape wrapped around it) makes it easy to find the channel you want regardless of the orientation of the cords during install.

I think the cost can't be beat and having a bold color, with large (redundant) labels makes life so much easier. No tape to run out, no device to buy.

My advice is skip the machine, unless you just prefer that looks over the practical advantages of tape I mentioned above ... namely cost, color, redundancy and size of print.

At the end of the season, I roll of all lights into balls (yarn balls) and put into bins. As we pack stuff up, my wife writes down what display item those likes were used on (i.e. megatree, blue spruce, etc.) and then when I open up that bin the next year, I know what those lights are for and where they will be installed. Its quick and simple. Most big items are fairly self explanatory, so to me ... labeling the lights is the most important. I don't label cords, because I like cord flexibility each year. If you keep things the same, then maybe electrical tape label those as well??

Edited by taybrynn

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I store my extension cords in 10 Gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck totes. I would estimate that I have 50-75 totes. I use black permanent marker on 2

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Many of my elements use red, green and blue (RGB) individual strings, so I label my each end of my cords with red, green or blue electrical tape. I lay out the cords three at a time from the controller to the element and can then connect each end without too much fuss. I store them in totes broken down by size:

8-15 feet

20-25 feet

35-40 feet

50 feet and up

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I'm learning a lot as well, thank you for all your replies!

I am also using RGB.. and have put red green and blue tape at then ends of my extension cords.... but when everything you have is RGB, you've really only cut your light strings into 1/3 by doing this. Which is why I wanted to go further and label those set's of 3 to channels 1-3, 4-6, 7-9...

I live in Canada, where the weather can at times dip to a frigged -20*C. And combined with a very high humidity level, I'm worried that the permanent marker will rub off at these temps on the tape... which is why I inquired about label maker.

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Good thoughts on the longevity of the markers. My climate is practically tropical compared to yours and the marker on duct tape only lasted two seasons. It was fun trying to guess if that obliterated number was a 5, 6 or 8, but not something I want to do every year. Especially if it's really cold outside.

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When creating my extension cord runs I zip tie four cords together about every 18" for the four colors I use. (RGBW) This helps keep a tidy group of cords for the run to a bush. I understand that bundling may reduce the capacity of the cords but I'm using way less power even with the lowered bundling capacity.

Each cord is labled with the length in feet at each end with a brother label wraped around the cord near the plug ends.

Each cord also has a colored zip tie at each end of the cord attached that corresponds to the color of light being pluged into it. No colored zip tie means white.

Jeff

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I've used sharpies on the outlets in the past, but I have just bought sharpie paint pens to try as the regular sharpie marker tip soon goes to pot. The paint pens have a harder tip and come in sizes from extra fine to fine to medium to even bigger. They come in water based and oil based. Michaels has them and I used a 40% off coupon making them $2.53 with tax here in Georgia. Unfortunately you can only use the coupon once and only one per puchase. I just take two coupons and a family member with me or walk out to the car to get another coupon and walk back in to make a second purchase.

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I use the labeler for my LOR controller's output cords and for my main power extension cords. Since I have 7 dedicated circuits for the display, and each one doesn't just feed one controller, I need to keep them straight so I don't overload anything. as I'm hooking controllers up. Printing labels for anything else would be a pain, a waste of money, and a waste of time.

Otherwise I just sharpie the ends of my extension cords. When I have multiple cords of the same length running from one point to another I sharpie the item or color on the end. I also sharpie the cord's length on the end too, makes it easier when setting up. Sharpie is also nice because it comes off with rubbing alcohol.

As far as organizing, I hang my long cords on wall hooks in groups of same length, and have bins for the shorter and homemade cords that I have.

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