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Gaffing cable to the floor.

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by gafftapegreenia, May 5, 2008.

  1. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    I'd like to start thread about how we gaff cables to the floor and what methods we use.

    Mine is the world of college theatre. Cables often stay in place for a few weeks. Thus, it is necessary to make sure the cable is secure for the run of the show. My method is when gaffing down cables, to lay a strip of gaff perpendicular to the cables every 3-5 feet, more or less depending on the traffic area. Then, I go back over and tape down the cables using the gaff parallell to the cables. I have found, that, while this does take a bit more time, and a little more gaff, I have rarely needed to re-do one of my cable runs during a show, and it holds very well.

    Alot of people try to get away with one long strip off gaff paralell to the cable laid. There are numerous problems with this. First, people will often attach the end of a roll to one end of the cable on the floor, pull it all the way to the other end, and they press down the gaff. However, the gaff tape always ends up missing about 50% or so of the cable. Anything more than a single run of DMX wiull usually require two parallell pieces of gaff, anotehr thing few people realize. Additionally, I have seen where this method is easily disturbed, and the gaff ends up impossibly wrapped around the cable, and not attached to the floor.

    Now, for less long-term situations, even those that are just one night events, I think I would skip the parallell gaffing, and just do perpendicular strips every few feet.

    So, while this may seem nit picky, in the end I say spend a little more time and gaff your cables right the first time around. A good job will save time both during the run and strike, andhelp keep cables safe backstage.

    Also, I know this can all be negated by plastic cable channels, but lets assume, for the purpose of this thread, we don't have those available.

    EDIT: Should also mention I wrote this with 2" gaff tape in mind.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2008
  2. mnfreelancer

    mnfreelancer Active Member

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    Both myself and the company I work for insist on 90 degree cable runs whenever possible, so the first and second stage of any tape-down is layout and testing. I deal a lot with 5-wire (RGBHV) cable so testing is imperative, not that it isn't important for any but the most failsafe cables. Anywho like I mentioned in another thread we buy only 2 7/8" wide rolls of ProGaf so my world is a little skewed from many because one width of tape will often do it for me. I start by putting down about a 6" wide piece perpendicular to the run on one end, going to the other and tugging on the cable until it's a straight and as 90 degree to everything as possible, tack it down, and run at least one run parallel to the cable. With that thick tape I can tape down one power cord, one five wire or 2-3 standard XLR with just one application. For anything thicker/wider or for high traffic areas I run half and half, always making sure that the application adheres both to the cable and to the floor - tape on tape alone won't help to protect the cable. I try to avoid excess taping, as most of my gigs are "set-to-strike" - cables lay against walls pretty well by themselves.

    Pulling up the tape is where the rookie mistakes can often occur. I usually pull up the main run, the tack comes with it, and I walk down the cable pulling the tape up at a relatively steep angle to avoid goo on the wires and to avoid the tape sticking to itself while it's "in transition". I've seen people get hopelessly gummed up / tangled up when pulling up taped cables - then proceeded to borrow them my utility knife to carefully cut stuck tape that is off-grain off of the cables...
     
  3. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    I don't use gaff for taping cables. And most things I do are there for 1 - 2 days or less. So we use a 3" wide black stage tape, which is basically high quality duct tape. But no residue on floor or carpet or cable.

    As for how to apply it, we just do a strip perpendicular at the ends, then one long strip to cover the run. Mostly, we're over doorways and in corners so a tape run is seldom more than 3 feet. Usually don't have issues with pulling it up, as long as we pull the tape and not the cable.

    In fact, I have to order more tape now. Thanks for the reminder.
     
  4. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Finally a topic to which I can relate!:) I spend much of my time dealing with cables on the floor and trip hazards.

    Even for a one-nighter, if in a traffic path (audience or talent or crew), I would add two parallel runs of 2" gaffers tape, and possibly ///// slashes of 1" tape in a contrasting color. I too, do the 6" perpendicular strip every 4-5', to keep the cable straight. Gaffers Tape works out to 5-10¢/foot, but safety is more important!

    IF I have more than one 12/3+DMX or RGBHV cable, it's cable ramps (cable cross-overs, YellowJackets/BumbleBees) or 12-18" wide rubber matting. If in a forklift or scissor/boom lift path, cable ramps are mandatory.

    Have you ever seen the cable ramps touring rock shows use? They're huge (45"x45"x4"), and heavy, and have diamond-plate on the top, but most tours only carry 6-8 of them for the SR and SL access points.
    [​IMG]


    The IBEW electrical contractor we use for trade show/convention work uses only flat cable in traffic areas, and 3" red vinyl tape applied with one similar to this:
    [​IMG]
    http://dock-equipment.com/index.cfm?mf=browse.showPart&partClassID=4333&PName=Floor%20Tape%20Applicators
    One strip parallel on top of each cable run. The IT/telephone guys do the same with their CAT5. They say 2" vinyl tape sticks better to carpet, is more flexible, and less expensive than gaffers tape. Nothing lasts more than one week, so residue transfer is seldom an issue.

    One can even get flat multi-cable now! I was going to say flat mic snakes are next, but with CAT5 and/or fiber runs becoming the norm, not necessary.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
  5. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Ok that's just cool.
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    And when/if PRG ever comes out with flat S400 cable, it'll be even cooler, as well as hideously expensive! Socapex is sooo last century.;)
     
  7. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Actually, now that you mention it, I have done the contrasting stripes before, and it is quite visible indeed.
     
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Lex has had flat cable for about a year.
     
  9. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Thank you again, Mr. Redundancy, for the second time.

    BTT: At the roadhouse I used to manage, we avoided taping cables to the floor if at all possible, as the soft-pine deck was so old and dry, gaff tape would pull up splinters 3-4" long. Once we covered the entire deck with battleship linoleum, it was like a brand new stage, but no more screwing.:(
     
  10. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I found this image to be interesting to me.

    This is 12/14 cable, but I don't quite understand the conductor layout. It almost appears as if lex uses 4 12/3 cables coupled with one 12/2 cable. which were laid next to each other, and then jacketed. I'm assuming the center conductor pair are the shared grounds, but otherwise the layout confuses me.
     
  11. silvrwolf

    silvrwolf Member

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    I have seen these cables wired like this. . .

    The center cable with the 2 conductors: The 1st conductor is used as a common ground the 2nd conductor is used as a common neutral.

    The other four cables with three conductors each are used as the hot terminals for each circuit.

    I personally prefer to have seperate neutrals but whatever
     
  12. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    But Sir... Those cable ramps are expensive...

    Agreed on the aforementioned general principles. Now, those distractions are so much more interesting...

    Fibre is fun... until you want to terminated to an expanded beam connector... the bean counters don't like us doing that... But fibre is still round... I believe tests have been done with Optocore fibre... Hammers and roadcase edges were apparently the tools of choice. The fibre kept working. But, if for whatever reason, your fibre gets cut...it's happened, you have an unpleasant bill for 2 new expanded beam connectors, or possibly at best a large metal splice 200mm plus long on your cable forever. Because it's not all that hard to splice fibre; it's just a bit harder to splice the kevlar that takes the cable strain. Oh and I need it waterproof and hired help proof as well...

    Eurocable make a mulitcore that is 12 or 24 pair plus 2 UTP. (Their website is stupidly out of date.) We use the 12ch stuff for returns cores; 12 ch of audio or comms or RS485 for XTA processors and then 2 pair of ethernet for control of Dolby Lake or EAW processors etc., internet or after the current firmware is installed, Dante. So you get the Dante as a primary and a copper backup in the one cable. I'm sure someone else will find a use for it as well...

    That power cable with common neutral looks just wrong... It might work for movers etc where you can balance your load pretty closely, but for anything dimmed forget it. Oh wait, I do need that full neutral capacity and more because all those movers have switchmode supplies... Or is this not the case, are they always run between phases? (Another issue conveniently rid with 230V)
     
  13. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Ignoring for a moment where the conductors are, as I can't speak for Lex Products.
    Socapex-style 19pin Lighting Multi-cable is made with 12/19 (all pins wired), 12/18 (Center pin unused), or 12/14 (less expensive, less weight, still tastes great): TMB pdf. In the case of 14 conductor cable, wire#13 (Ground1) and wire#14 (Ground2) are ganged together inside the connector to pins 13-18. Thus at 120V all circuits have a unique hot, neutral, and share 2*12g. grounds. At 208V, it's HotA, HotB for circuit#1; HotB, HotC for ckt#2; HotC, HotA for ckt#3; repeat for ckts#4, 5, 6. Pins 13-18 are still ground. No neutral is required for 208V ML power.



    As described above, the cable would be very non code-compliant.
     
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Sorry I nodded off through the first post and only saw the second one about the PRG cable.
     
  15. silvrwolf

    silvrwolf Member

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    Thanks for the clarification Derek.

    It seems as though I did misunderstand what the pin-out on the cable was. When someone originally explained it to me it was in the wee hours of the morning after a very long work day.
     
  16. Fireguy551

    Fireguy551 Member

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    We have about 50 3' x 6' rolls of black carpet that gets laid over cable and then gets taped down after the cable has been checked. Most of our shows are 1-offs though.
     
  17. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    My boss and I found this stuff called Tunnel Tape it's great! Basically it's 4" or 6" wide Gaff tape with a 2" or 3" center section that doesn't have adhesive. You can slide cables through it after you put it down if you need to. It comes with Yellow Stripes or just straight black!
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2008
  18. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    While I do keep a roll of tunnel tape in my tape bin, I rarely use it as it has more of a slop factor than I like when taping down cables.

    As for how I tape down cables, generally I don't, the exception being off season events. For the Pageant I can't have any cables on the floor as almost all of our scenery is on wagons which need to be able to roll all around the stage and back stage areas. for that reason, if I need a cable going to a particular location, I will run it overhead and drop it down wherever it needs to be. I install what I cal set tails on our rolling scenery. These are multi-circuit cables of sufficient length to reach an off stage power drop. As I typically have 15 seconds to a minute to plug and unplug, taping down these tails is not an option. For that same reason I cannot use socopex connectors on my set tails.
     

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