How I Keep Long Cords Organized

01.02.2018

0600

Materials:

  • Velcro straps
  • Cardboard

Tools:

  • Cables
  • Rope
  • Christmas Lights

Organizing long ropes is always a bit tricky. There are many different methods and techniques that people use in different professions. I discovered a few that help me keep different types of cords organized.

Every cable has a natural coil. When you try to fight that coil, bad things happen. The cable eventually twists on the inside, and when you needed it the most, the cable will fail.

DSC_7373

For long extension cords:

For extension cords, I use the “Over-Under Technique” to keep my longer cords in a loop form but also to keep it from twisting was I’m wrapping it up. This method eliminates unnecessary twists in the cord and allows the cord to coil in it’s natural state (like it was wrapped from the factory). You can check out how this technique is used at Digital Photo: “Studio Safety: Coiling Cables”. The technique looks like this:

Digital Studio- Studio Safety: Coiling Cables

Basically, you take the cable at one, holding the cable in one hand with your thumb holding that end down. With your other hand, and your thumb facing the same direction as your other hand, bring the cable around to create a loop and let that loop sit in your holding hand.

Then create another loop but face your thumb away from the holding hand’s thumb, bring it around to create another loop, but when it reaches your holding hand, make sure your thumb is facing the opposite direction of the holding hand’s thumb. Repeat these two types of loops until you finish with the entire cable. When you coil your cables in this sequence, the cable does not twist while you coil it up.

If you need to use the cable, you can grab the end of the rope that is on the outside,  throwing the coil away from your or just pulling on one end, and the rest of the cable will unravel quickly.

DSC_7357

For shorter cables, I wrap the cable around my hand, using the space between my thumb and index finger.

With Christmas lights, I take a piece of cardboard and I cut it into an “I” shape, with small slits cut into the four inside corners of the cardboard piece. These slits are about half an inch and marked where the red lines are located in the picture. If you want to know the measurements for my cardboard holders, I included it in the image below.

DSC_7359-3DSC_7359-2

Tuck the female end of the christmas lights into one of the slits. Continue wrapping the cord around the middle piece of the cardboard until the entire cord is wrapped. Then take the male end of the cardboard and tuck it into the nearest available slit.

When you need to use the Christmas lights, simply plug in the male end of the cord and unravel while decorating your tree, or just decorating inside as needed.

I also label each cord using masking tape, with that type of light it is (marked with the yellow circle) so it’s easier to identify each year when we set up the Christmas decorations. I also write the length of each cord on both the male end and female end, which is identified with the orange circle.

  • White Solid = White lights that don’t blink
  • White Blink = White blinking lights
  • Color Solid = Color lights that don’t blink
  • Color Blink = Color lights that blink

 

DSC_7361DSC_7363

DSC_7371-2

So these methods are how I keep my long cords organized and I’m sure there are more techniques as well. Hopefully these ideas will spark some new ways of how you can organize your cords.

 

Backpack Hacks

08.15.2017

0600

With all of my backpacks that I have ever owned, I hack them the exact same way as I always have. Going back as far as middle school, I always had to hack my backpacks. It was my way of customizing my carrier to my exact needs and over time I would edit it as my needs changed. Within each compartment I always created some type of hanging or attachment mechanism to hang my water bottles, extra bags within the compartments or hang something I needed access to immediately. most of the time I hung items that I needed access to so that those items weren’t at the bottom of my bag, where I had to go digging around to look for them.

Front of the backpack

  • I always attach extra reflectors so that in low light, vehicles or any type of light can bounce off of my backpack and I can be visible. These reflecting straps are for bikers, but I took two of the straps and weaved them through my exisitng strap set up.
DSC_4842
  • For all of my zippers that open to significant compartments, I always sew a section of the zipper, so it limits the access to that compartment to only one direction of movement for the zipper. I prefer to only have access in one direction for the zipper movement so it’s easier to watch over and maintain. I also attach metal rings right below the point of the sewing block (through the exposed zipper tape) so that I can use this ring to lock my carabiners from the outside but to also hang items on the inside of the bag.
DSC_6510
DSC_6526
  • On the inside, I hook extra interior metal rings with carabiners to the exterior rings that are popping through the tape so I can hang items on the inside. I’ll hang my water bottle from these interior rings (when my external water bottle pocket has my coffee tumbler in it) or small bags so I can keep items separated in the same compartment. These interior rings are there for anything that needs to be hanged or utilized.
00-eas.260.2007_010_01
DSC_6511
DSC_6513

Sides of the backpack

  • I also sew blocking for my smaller compartments and create a locking system for these pockets as well. For the smaller pockets, it really just depends how and where you want to secure the pocket. I chose to insert an extra ring so that I could attach an extra carabiner to it and lock the zipper with it.
DSC_6533
DSC_6534
  • For my external water bottle pocket, I usually take one of the extra backpack straps (that I trimmed off)  to create a safety strap for the external water bottle pocket so that it can hold taller water bottles more securely. There have been a few incidents where my external water  bottle pocket wasn’t deep enough and due to the fact that I had so much stuff in my backpack, my water bottle managed to get squeezed out of the pocket.
DSC_6518

Back of the backpack

  • I usually trim the extra strap slack that comes with the backpack straps. I don’t like any loose hanging straps so I will measure how high I want to carry my backpack and trip, then hem the straps accordingly.
  • For my backpack straps, I like to keep my smaller items very close to me. So I will attach some type of pocket (large enough to fit my “wallet” items and my cell phone) to the front. This backpack didn’t come with a pocket for those types of intimate items.
DSC_6538
DSC_6537
DSC_6540
  • I also ALWAYS, ALWAYS attach an extra carabiner to the other strap, so I can hook my keys onto my strap quickly.
DSC_6531 - Copy.JPG

So there you have it, those are the hacks I made for this backpack. This is my day to day back pack, so I’ll run to the store or go hiking with it. I do have another hiking backpack that’s a 65 gallon capacity for traveling and I’ve hacked that accordingly as well. Hopefully you may see a hack i described here that you would like to use on your own backpacks or carrying bags that you may want to use.

Creating A Locking Mechanism For My Carabiners

05.16.2017

0700

DSC_5455

I’m a big fan of carabiners. I have all different types and designs, however, I tend to favor the Asymmetrical D-Shape. On a whim a few years back, I bought two S-Binder carabiners. I really liked this design because the items I would place on the bottom half of the carabiner were separated from the top half. The top lever was the lever that I would use to hook and unhook the carabiner to other objects.

This also lead to an issue with the way in which I used it. Each time I would wrap my hands around the carabiner to press open the top lever,  I would inadvertently press my palm against the bottom lever and the objects had a very good chance to slide out. This involuntary action happened a few times and I had to come up with a quick solution.

DSC_5456

First, I wrapped a small piece of Velcro around the bottom lever, but over time, the Velcro started to become weaker and would become unattached, which left the end flap of the Velcro unattached. I knew I had to come up with a more permanent solution. I knew other carabiner brands sold their Asymmetrical D-Shape carabiners with locking mechanisms or had an external accessory that helped lock their levers in place. I had to make my own locking mechanism in order for me to not drop my keys all over the place.

DSC_5457DSC_5459

I took a old piece of an iron on elbow patch (I had bought a set years ago and never used them all up), and I cut the length to the distance that it would take to cover the lever and half of the basket of the carabiner. (If you don’t know where the ‘basket’ is, I labeled all of the parts of a carabiner in the first image).

With a few sewing needles, I marked the locations of the fabric of which I would have to sew the fabric together. I removed the fabric from the carabiner and sewed it up. I needed to create a snug fit for the locking mechanism so that the fabric didn’t move easily when in use. When I sewed my second locking mechanism, I sewed it a little too snug, but with fabric, you have a slight chance to stretch the length and width of any product due to the material. This was material for iron-on elbow patches, so it was a very, very slight stretch .

Once I was finished sewing both the locking mechanisms, I slid the pieces on, moved my key rings over them and then slid it back over the levers. It’s a simple solution to a very basic tool I use everyday.

If you use any other kind of fabric, perhaps 100% cotton,  you may have to sew it a little tighter because cotton tends to stretch more. And, you may want to extend the length of the locking mechanism so that it can’t slide back and forth on the basket as easily. The idea is to make the fabric slight “stuck” on the spine of your carabiner. If it has a hard time sliding around the basket, then it most likely won’t slide around when in use.

I hope this might give any of you some ideas as to how to approach design problems such as this one. Happy sewing and don’t loose those keys!

DSC_5461

DSC_5462DSC_5463DSC_5464

DSC_5466DSC_5468

A Climber’s Guide To Carabiners

Charging Stations

 

06.15.2016

0800

I love making my life convenient. “Convenient” can be defined by individuals in different ways and it really comes down to how much energy are you willing to put forth in any task. I like the convenience of pushing a button and the task I desire has started and is running on it’s own.

One of the conveniences I’ve created in my life are my power strip locations. I really dislike plugging in a charger into a wall. Perhaps it’s the height of the outlet or the fact that I have to shove the prongs into the outlet in order for it to take, but either way- I’ve never been a fan. I also don’t like to leave my items plugged in all day, so a power strip makes sense for me.

The act of pushing one button to run my life is a dream come true for me, the less work it takes to run my life- the better. Also, the convenience of having a few power strip locations helps me divide the items I charge up during different tasks. And it’s convenient for my friends and family when they come over and need to charge their phones or laptops.

I charge my phone next to a shelf, which is near my bed. I don’t like to place items on surfaces in my home because the surfaces tend to gather dust quickly. But due to the location of the closest available outlet,  I was forced to lay my phone on the floor, which is something I prefer not to do. One reason for that is that I like to keep my floor clear and free of any clutter and I don’t like to reach all the way to my floor in the early morning to turn off my alarm (I’d probably be searching for it for a good 10 minutes).

This brought me to my solution of hanging a power strip underneath the shelf and a small bag to hold my cell phone while it’s plugged in. I also thread the power cord through the handle that makes up the hanging bag so that the cord will stay in place. I made the bag from an old pair of denim jeans and shoelace. I simply plug in my phone and push a button to activate the power strip. In the morning, I just turn off the power strip. Essentially this is an elaborate extension cord, but there’s no struggle with pulling my charger out of the outlet or otherwise. I simple push a button now.

DSC_4413DSC_4415

DSC_4421

I know this hack has been advertised before, but I also attach a power strip to my bookshelf. I actually attach this power strip to the back of one of my shelves. I’ve seen power strips attached to the outside of bookshelfs, but I try to limit the amount of items poking out of the sides of bookshelves due to the fact that bookshelves are great space savers if you can place it up against a flat surface. If I had the choice  and was trying to place a vertical power strip, I’d try to move it to the interior of the shelf structure. This book shelf power strip is usually used for my camera gear, laptop and other various electronics.

DSC_3586DSC_4607DSC_4608

Car Hacks

 

05.30.2016

0850

Materials:

  • Shoelace
  • Carabiners
  • S-Hooks
  • Metal rings
  • Velcro straps

As someone who frequently uses a purse, I find it very annoying that there never seems to be a place in my car to hang it. When I used to own a smaller purse, I was able to place it on my console area because it was small enough to sit there. Since I’ve upgraded to my shoulderbag, and needed  to hang it up so that the contents inside stay organized, I still didn’t have a place in my car to hang it. Although cars do come with a multitude of amenities, sometimes  when you have an older car, like mine, you have to design it yourself.

For my shoulder bag hanger, I use shoelaces, an S-Hook, a carabiner and rings to reach the rings attached to my bag. There are rings were left over from my purse hack and I would hook those rings to the S-Hook for quick access.

I looped the shoelace extension to one of the poles of the passenger headrest. I wanted a soft material in the beginning of this line, in case the passenger needed to lower the headrest to its lowest point. An S-Hook was then attached to the shoelace at the end, which could be height adjusted by moving the S-Hook to different knots on the shoelace line. Because I knew my bag needed different types of height extensions depending on what I carried in my bag for each day, I wanted to make a few knots in the shoelace so I could choose the tension  that would be needed. This way, my bag rings would be taught while hanging, but not floating off of the center console. The carabiner is there in case I have items that really needed a secure anchor, the S-Hook is used for items that will only need temporary security when in motion.

DSC_4393

DSC_4750

My second car hack is my phone holder. It’s a simple rectangular case that came with my external hard drive. But since I keep my external hard drive in another case, I didn’t think it was necessary. So I repurposed it as my car phone holder. I’m sure that any rectangular case could be used for this purpose, as long as it’s large enough to place the phone in and take it out without a struggle. I cut two rectangular holes in the hard case itself, one to view the screen and one for the charger location.

Since my car is so old, I don’t have a auxiliary connection but I do have a cassette tape adapter. So my cable for my cassette tape adapter is hanging on the right side of my phone holder.  Although it covers my car climate temperature control as well as my car climate mode control, I don’t usually need to access those often. I can also flip up the phone holder and peer underneath if I need to.

DSC_4404DSC_4405DSC_4406

In my car I tend to use the Hitch Knot in order to secure my rope. I keep an extra rope tied with a Hitch Knot, attached to one of the bars to my front vents. I do this in case I need to hang anything in the front area of the car. Although the item can’t be heavy, it’s still handy in dire situations when I need to attach a bag quickly.

DSC_4394DSC_4395DSC_4396

For my trunk area, I’m not a big fan of simple placing my groceries in the back of my car. I’ve had more than a few incidences when I took a turn in my car and my items from my grocery bags slipped out of the bags. As a precaution, I now hook my bags to the interior of my car. There are a number of ways to keep your groceries contained while in your trunk, this is just the way I do it since I don’t have a lot of trunk space. I use carabonders for the heavier items and velcro straps for the lighter items.

I’ve seen some people use cardboard boxes to contain their loose items in their trucks or even laundry baskets. I pretty much don’t have a separate trunk so my method can’t take up too much room. Also, my carabiners are pretty good at keeping bottles upright.

DSC_4400DSC_4398

Essential Design Tools

03.28.2016

0900

DSC_3860

When I mention my essential design tools, I’m talking about tools I keep around in order to hack an object or product. Whether it be the way that the product is used, is placed in a location or creating more than one type of use for it. These alterations are never designed to compromise the integrity of the product itself unless I really want to step into that realm. The reason why I don’t want to alter the integrity of the products too much is because by living a zero waste life, I must be able to make multiple products be able to be used for multiple functions. This idea of versatility with every product I invest in, is always in the back of my mind with every purchase or design hack.

Supplies I keep in order to fix or hack day to day situations and circumstances around the house:

  1. Shoelaces and Rope
  2. S-Hooks
  3. Metal Binder Clips
  4. Velcro straps
  5. Carabiners
  6. Metal Rings

All of the tools I choose to keep are reusable and are made of durable material. I do prefer metal or stainless steel material because these tools can be manipulated into the shape of a loop. My favorite tools out of all of these are the carabiners and metal rings. Carabiners are strong, safe, secure and easy to use. Their closed loop design and locking mechanism was the design feature that caught my attention years ago. And due to the fact that these carabiners can be used repeatedly, the investment will pay off on its own. Metal rings can be used anywhere to create another secure loop for hooking any carabiner to it. These two tools coincide with one another when I use them.

I also favor rope as well. If you can find extra rope that’s braided together, then you’ve found gold in my opinion. The strength of braided rope combined with the knowledge of knots is essential. Also, rope has a soft flexibility to it where it can be use with clothing alterations, products and repairs. It’s flexible enough to create tension for a blanket fort, yet can be turned into a lasso to help save a drowning adult in a roaring rapid.

Metal binder clips and velcro straps are used as temporary grips for a group of anything that need to be bundled together. Although metal binder clips are limited in the width of the object they’re gripping, the metal material is still strong enough to retain it’s own shape.  Velcro straps can be used for larger bundles and can also be linked together to extend their capabilities around larger bundles.

S-Hooks are simply used when I need to hang something up without needing to drill a hole into another material. It is my go to tool when I have to deal with an object that needs support due to gravity more so than any other issue.

There are parameters to living a zero waste life, but one has to live within those parameters and still meet their own needs. Some might say that keeping supplies such as  the ones I’ve listed above is excessive, yet, I reuse these design tools repeatedly. If you notice that you constantly reuse certain tools or constantly go out and buy the same supplies, I’m betting that you’ve stumbled upon your own design tools. Invest in supplies that are versatile and are produced with durable materials, and they will consistently give back to you.