Sleeving

posted Jun 5, 2014, 7:18 PM by Andrew Stock
It's been so long! Time flies when you're having fun I guess. 

Life has been busy, as always, but I've been fortunate enough to get pockets of time here and there to make some progress. I've piled up a few pictures, so it's time to share!

First, as indicated last time, I went ahead and purchased a fan to install on the back of my hard drive cage. It took quite a bit of research to find one that would fit considering the tight space, but I located a nice low profile 140mm fan that fit. I thought about a few ways to attach it, but decided to settle on simply tapping a few holes in the back of my drive cage, so that I could screw it flush against the surface. The area is completely invisible once the cage is in place, so I could have duct taped it  on for all it mattered, but this 'felt' nicer. 



Unfortunately, all the pictures of the cage assembled with the fan seem to have become corrupt, and my drive cage is now assembled and in use in the case... so no pictures for now... but the next time I get it apart I promise I'll share! 

Next, I decided to move on to some sleeving, at last! I started with the pumps, since they seemed pretty easy... just two sleeves each. Well... it wasn't as easy as I thought.  I did an initial sleeving with the shrink just running up to the pump... but it didn't look right, and you could see a bit of the colored wires where the sleeve met the pump. Time to take it apart!




The second attempt looked much better. The shrink is a bit crinkled up by the pump, but I'm not so sure there's anything to do about that... the hole in the pump housing is very tight, and practically crimps the wires by themselves, not to mention when they are shrinked. Not bad otherwise though, I'm pretty happy with it, for my first shot at sleeving. 




Next, I decided to make myself a custom USB to 4-pin motherboard header cable. This will run from my motherboard USB header down to my arduino hiding under the radiator housing, which will control my pumps/fans/etc. I started by disassembling an unused USB bracket, and cutting off the header portion of one of the cables.



Next, I took a regular old USB printer cable and cut off the "A" side of it, then stripped the wires:



A quick bit of soldering and a little electrical tape later:



I then proceeded to shrink over that part of the cable to tidy it up, reattached the USB header, and shrinked the head for good measure. 




I didn't think to sleeve this cable, especially since it will be completely hidden... but maybe I'll go back and sleeve it anyway, just for the heck of it, if I have some spare sleeve left over. I could also go as far as buying an empty USB header and some shielded USB cable, and cut myself a completely custom cable, but I digress... I have many other important things to get to first. 

Next, I decided to move on to sleeving some of my PSU cables. Many of these were nice enough looking... but why stop at nice enough? Surely I can do better. 

Appologies for the photos... they were taken late at night, under a desk lamp. 



I drew up some diagrams, to keep track of the pin locations. One thing I needed to do was "invert" the SATA power heads on this first cable, so that they were facing the right way as installed on my drive bay. The hard drives are inverted in the bay, so the power cables need to be inverted too! After figuring out what the wires needed to do, I measured and cut up one of the spare cables I had.



Next, I prepared my lengths of sleeving. Having no experience, I experimented a bit with the best way to get a nice looking end that isn't all bloated or frayed. What I found worked best was to hold the sleeve between my index finger and thumb where I wanted it to be cut, and use a very sharp pair of scissors to cut right next to my fingers.



Then, while still holding, I would use a lighter and heat up the end millimeter or two for about two seconds, enough to melt it just a little. Then, I would use my other hand and roll the slightly melted end between my index finger and thumb. This kept the end from fraying while keeping it about the same diameter as the rest of the un-melted sleeve.



After that, I'd push the cable through the sleeve, leaving about 5mm between the end of the sleeve and the beginning of the pin crimp:




Then, following the wonderful illustrative guides posted by Nils, I used some 15mm pre-cut heatshrink and placed it with the leading edge covering up to the head of the pin, and heated it to shrink it about 50% of the way there, then made sure it was exactly in the right place before shrinking it the rest of the way. At this point, if it was still in the right place, I would overheat it slightly, count to 5 (while lining up the pin with the plastic housing), and insert the pin into the housing... being careful not to get the leading edge of the still-warm shrink caught on the housing. That happened a lot. 



Not too bad!  Time for attempt #2!



Still lookin' good! Multiply that by about 50 more times... and that was my evening.  After completing the PSU end of the cable, I moved on to making the custom SATA "bridge". To hook it up to my drive cage, I needed to fit four SATA power connectors in relatively rapid succession. I took a while to do some research on various was that people decided to sleeve between sata connectors, but decided to go with shrink and sleeve. 




To sleeve this part, I first crimped on a SATA power head, then fit a 15mm shrink and a small piece of sleeve onto the cable. I locked the sleeve in place with the first piece of shrink, then slid it tight against the SATA head. 

 

After I had all five cables in place, I crimped the next head on:



I had some trouble initially getting these cables crimped on... I think my cable that came with my PSU had insulation that was slightly tougher or thicker than usual.  Anyway, I ended up using a small hex-headed screwdriver to force the cable down into the blades of each section, which seemed to work pretty well.



Here's halfway through the process of that cable:







Not terrible!  Some of the sleeve didn't end up stretching quite as much as the other pieces, but all in all considering this is my first go at a lot of this, I'm pretty happy with it. I'm not exactly sure how I want to approach v2 of the drive cage just yet, but I anticipate I'll have to redo this cable in order to draw power to some of the additional features, so this is certainly good enough for now. 

A few hours later:




And here it is installed:



And here's the underside, where it meets the PSU:



Actually very happy with how it came out! It's by no means perfect, but I'm satisfied for a first go as a complete sleeving 'novice'. 

And just because I see so many people do it, here's some sleeving gymnastics, to show how tight the stretch ended up being. 








With some balancing, it would stand up on end... but it was rather hard to get a picture of that considering how tall it was. 


Now, with that done, on to the next most challenging sleeving project... PCIe power cables! Why, might you ask, were these more challenging? Because of THIS:



Yep... "Y" cables were a part of it. 

I researched a bit online, but I couldn't really find a solution that looked 'right' to me, so I decided to go it on my own and just try a few things. Fortunately, I have a stretch of this cable that will be smashed between the motherboard and the motherboard tray... so it will be completely invisible... in case it comes out terrible.  I started by putting some single-wire sleeve over both of the cables, shrinking it in place at the end of the cable where they are crimped into one pin, then stretching it as tight as possible and clamping it in place with a locking wrench:




Next, I put a piece of sleeve up at the end of the wire (for later!), then I cut two equal lengths of sleeve and put them over the two separate wires leading away from the clamp, forming the "Y" halfway along the cable:



Next, I used my lighter to heat up the "Y" section, and mashed it together with my finger and thumb (in a glove... too hot!), to get it kinda held together. I read in some places that people used superglue to hold these sections together, but not having any, I went for melting. 



Next, I used that spare piece of sleeve that I put on earlier and slid it over the whole "Y" section, then shrank it in place:



Repeat that twice, along with several hours of regular sleeving:



Not bad, getting better with each attempt! The PCIe header on the right is my first go, the one on the left was my second. Noticeably better! 




I'd say it was a pretty good improvement from the "lazy" sleeving done by the manufacturer (on the left)!



Lastly, I made a few little odds and ends for connecting various headers inside the case. Sleeved for practice, why not!



And with all that done, I actually finally took my PC apart and got it back into my case! It's LITERALLY been years since it was reassembled! 

Still lots to do, nowhere near done! Until next time! 


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