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Cranky, kinky cables, oh no!

Kinky-cableAt one time or another, most of us have had to deal with a cable like the one pictured here; snarled, twisted, knotted, kinky.

A cable so messed up that it actually fights back when you try to untangle it. Let's look at why this happens, and how to stop it.

This happens when a cable is wound up tightly around an object, whether a device it connects to, one's hand, or for longer cables one's hand and elbow. We've all done this at one time or another, because it's fast, effective and intuitive. But also... wrong. Don't do that.

What happens is that we grip the cable while turning our winding hand around and around, like turning a crank. Every time this crank goes around, a twist is imparted to the cable.

This might be fine if the twist were undone when unwinding it. But the copper in a wire can hold onto the twist, imprinted like a traumatic memory. One might as well try to uncrumple a sheet of foil after it's been balled up. It can be smoothed out, but those wrinkles persist.

Instead of winding tightly with a cranking motion, try gently coiling. For this method, hold one hand with the palm up, to use as a tray, and put one loose end of the cable under your thumb. With the other hand, scoop the dangling cable, lifting it up and over the tray hand and dropping it under the tray thumb to form a loop. Repeat, repeat, repeat, trying to make each loop the same size.

The key here is dropping the cable. After each new loop is trayed, the scooping hand lets go before the next scoop. Because you're not holding the cable, wrist rotation is not transferred to it. Overall, instead of a circular cranking motion, the scoop hand moves more like an orchestra conductor, gently waving back and forth, up and down.

When finishing up, do not tie up the cable coil using its own loose end, again because you'll tend to impart a twist to it. Seal your tidy coil with a nice Velcro strip or a separate wire twist tie.

There is also an alternate alternate method. Like the coiling method, use one hand as a tray, but instead of scoop/drop, scoop/drop, move the gathering hand back and forth over the tray, imparting a U-turn to the cable every time you reverse direction.

The cable takes on a "ZZZ" shape overall, like an accordion or snake in motion. Tie it off in the middle to make a bow tie shape. This method has the advantage of being pretty fast, but the cable bow may be somewhat unwieldly. Also, you should be careful not to pack it up in any way which might crease the folds.

No more kinky cables, no more cranky users.

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