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Thread: Identifying similar looking cables

  1. #1
    Supporting Member garage nut's Avatar
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    garage nut's Tools

    Identifying similar looking cables

    After years of battling with my automated gate and numerous "experts" fixing. When the trigger switch from the house starting to play up, armed with all the installation documents of the different gadgets (motor main controller, motor slave controller, IR sensors, remote control, keypad control, house intercom control) and a lot of patience....so I thought I set out to fix it once and for ever and understand what is doing what so I can fix it myself the next time it goes on the blink..

    Challenges... not problems

    1) No pipes to go from Main motor to Slave motor....luckily the gardener was in so now there are pipes in and hopefully the cables will last a little longer.

    2) Even though I tried to the best of my ability to identify 3 similarly looking cables coming out of a piece of black 20mm irrigation pipe...I could not.

    Then the patience was finished... sutch stupidity from an installer. How was he ever going to fix it if something went wrong,,,or is it a way to ensure only he can ever fix it.

    I knew one cable ( all of these were security type cables with about 20 different couloured thin wires inside) has to go to the intercom in the house, one to the intercom at the gate and one to the keypad at the gate.

    The solution...I found 2 wires that at any of the contollers were not in use. I then connected them to one another, one at a time at the controller, then going to where they came out of the pipe I used my multi meter to see at which cable I got continuity.

    Then to make sure they are identified for even I use different couloured zip ties for the different cables. So now I know the cable with the red zip tie goes to the key pad. I do the same at the key pad side so even though I made a note of the colours in the distribution box it will be obvious for somebody later that do not see my notes.

    Identifying similar looking cables-cables.jpg


    as you can see I used Green and Red, I did the same with the cables on my boat, so Red is Port and Green Starboard. If you have more cables than couloured Zip tie just add zip ties...2 reds and 2 red on the other side.

    I use this method on my race car's spark plug wires..becouse I do not want different coloured zip ties...My fellow compettitors might think I am getting old and can not remember so 1 black one on wire going to plug 1 and 2 on wire going to plug 2 and so on.
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    Last edited by garage nut; 06-30-2018 at 11:33 PM.

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    Supporting Member Frank S's Avatar
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    Frank S's Tools
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    Garage nut get you a tone generator kit The cheaper ones in the $20.00 range may be limited But Fluke has some in the $50 to 90.00 range that are quite good.
    Tone generators and probes are really useful for identifying conductors in a shielded bundle just place the generator at 1 end and the probe at the other
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    garage nut (07-01-2018)

  4. #3
    Supporting Member garage nut's Avatar
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    garage nut's Tools
    Brilliant piece of kit.

    Had to go and Google what it is and how it works.

    I will not really use something like that often as I am more of a Toolmaking type of guy. That is why I always got an "EXPERT" to come and sort the gate out, but will watch AliExpress for some specials or when the exchange rate favors me.


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    Thanks garage nut! We've added your Cable Identification Method to our Electrical category,
    as well as to your builder page: garage nut's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:





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