Viability of DIY Audio Snake

Harrison

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Joined
Apr 4, 2016
Location
Newtown CT
First off - I've read that building a snake from the ground up is generally discouraged because the amount of work and the price of components typically makes it not worth it.

I get that - but I have most of the raw materials and a very small budget. I've got a leftover spool of 24 AWG shielded and jacketed (white) XLR cable, plenty of XLR M & F cable connectors, and the soldering equipment needed. Would it be viable to buy a large length of heat shrink (somewhere in the range of 50'-100') and use that to make a 6 conductor snake? Would something like techflex work? I'm okay with spending some time on this if necessary.

If this is a ridiculous idea - what else can I use this cable for? It doesn't feel durable enough to make standalone XLR's out of.
 

jonliles

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if the 2 primary conductors are twisted pair, and since it is shielded and jacketed, you could always use it to make impromptu DMX Connectors when necessary. Is it stranded or solid conductor?
 

TimMc

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Premium Member
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Feb 15, 2017
There are probably a bunch of internet videos about building snakes and really there is no magic to the process. Preplanning and having all your connectors, shrink tubing and soldering stuff on hand at the beginning of the build determines your feelings of success.

Solid conductor wire will be more of an issue regarding handling, deployment and storage. It will work but using the completed product won't be much fun.
 

Craig Hauber

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Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Location
Plentywood MT, Grenora ND
First off - I've read that building a snake from the ground up is generally discouraged because the amount of work and the price of components typically makes it not worth it.

I get that - but I have most of the raw materials and a very small budget. I've got a leftover spool of 24 AWG shielded and jacketed (white) XLR cable, plenty of XLR M & F cable connectors, and the soldering equipment needed. Would it be viable to buy a large length of heat shrink (somewhere in the range of 50'-100') and use that to make a 6 conductor snake? Would something like techflex work? I'm okay with spending some time on this if necessary.

If this is a ridiculous idea - what else can I use this cable for? It doesn't feel durable enough to make standalone XLR's out of.
I wouldn't waste my time with solid-conductor cable for that kind of use.

As far as viability of building your own snakes, it's what we all had to do years ago as there were very few off-the-shelf products and what was available was really expensive.

Time spent doesn't have to be economically viable or anything hobby related would be considered a waste. I've seen people accusing others of wasting time on such things then going home and sitting in front of the TV for hours every night.

Yes if you are on somebody else's payroll you need to be aware of wasteful time, but for your own business or personal hobby there's no such thing is non-viable use of one's time -I used to make my own snakes at night while watching TV!

That being said however I still made sure to have a decent final product and solid-core 24awg would result in a busted snake not too long after initial deployment -but I did use leftover installation-grade mic cable many times for custom patch-snakes. I found it next to impossible to pull the lines through more than 20' of heat shrink -mostly because it comes off the roll flat and is not the most-smooth of inner surfaces.
I found that 3" bands of it spaced every foot or so were perfectly adequate -especially for permanent install uses in the studio or venue, but it seemed to hold up well for portable use too. Perhaps sliding the finished banded-product through techflex would help for that kind of use.

I do remember touring with a 125' home-made return-snake made of 12 lines of West-Penn 291 banded every foot with e-tape and no additional strain relief on any of the XLR ends. Got deployed then stowed back in the bus every night for over 8 months and ended up being the least-repaired piece of gear on that tour! (was meant to be temporary until an actual multicore product was ordered, but that fell through the cracks or something and we just went with it indefinitely)

I haven't built a snake in years, but nowadays I get everyone else's broken discards (as they chase the New&Shiny) -and just repair it for far less work than building from scratch
 

FMEng

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Mar 31, 2008
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Tacoma, WA
Heat shrink tubing is not slippery enough inside to fish cables a long distance through it. If, by some miracle, you got the cables through it, it would be as stiff as a board. When the tubing is heated and shrunk, it gets very inflexible. Braided sleeving is expensive enough that you might as well buy proper, multi-pair cable. The stuff can be found on ebay for decent prices.

I have hand made snakes before. It made sense when snakes were very expensive, or when custom features were desired. These days, cheap overseas labor and knock off connectors has made snakes very inexpensive.
 

TNasty

Active Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Location
New Jersey
Hmm... with all that said, is there anything useful I can do with solid besides using it for installation runs?
At 24 gauge that's quite an interesting question. It'll be good for stuff jumpers in connectors, and some small odd repairs.

If you're into electronics and those kinds of "small projects" (I mean Arduino and small custom circuit boards), you'd be able to go right through that stuff. Trust me.
 
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Rod Reilly

Active Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2017
Location
New Jersey
I've been in this game since high school back in the very early seventies - have built my share of snakes, but NEVER EVER would I use solid core for anything audio longer than 1/2". I've never really bought into the Monster Cable story of hearing the difference between cable A and cable B but!!! Unless it is a telephone don't do it.

The cost of decent heat shrink is likely to be more than the cost of a premade snake and a lot less reliable. I sell a 50ft 8 way extension snake (line connectors on each end) for $79 and 100ft for $125 - they are made in China, but they use good connectors and cable. At a slightly lower quality, I have 8 way snakes with a stage box at one end at about the same price (a little less actually by about 5%).

If I have them a lot of other vendors will have them too. You can also buy good quality Multi pair audio cable and self terminate at around $1.25 per foot.
 

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