Often when I write a column like this I open myself up to a barrage of “help me” requests from friends, family, random strangers who recognize me and stop me on the street.  It seems today’s problem is one we all are saddled with, spaghetti wiring. Before we delve into this meatball topic (forgive that last pun, it’s cheesy – Parmesan cheesy. Sick yet?  Just wait.) I want to cut off the requests at the pass.

Techlife is all about you reading, absorbing and doing.  Techlife is excited to hear from readers (and family, you know who you are) who solved their spaghetti wiring. Are you still asking yourself why take the column in this direction? Because I don’t want to come to your home or office, you can do this.  There I said it.

The New Gadget

Look behind your desk or main television, mess of wires? That’s spaghetti wiring. That’s what I was facing.

I had gotten a new DVD Recorder/VCR (yes we still have some old tapes) combo unit and was excited to replace an aging and often broken DVD player and remove an old VCR from my living room setup. Streamlined. That was going to be me.

Upon close inspection, I realized this was going to be a time sink. I had a TiVo, a TV, a Wii, a Receiver, a DVD player, a VCR, surround sound speakers, and a few other black boxes that did who knows what. Each had a power cable and many connecting wires to carry video and audio and connect and record and — STOP!  Spaghetti wiring.

A few months later came the inevitable, “Why is this new combo unit still sitting here?” I took another peek at the spaghetti wiring and saw not surprisingly, nothing had changed.  The next thing I knew I was scraping arms, reaching deep behind wall units, and moving things around. Then came the moment of truth, powering up for the test and…

Spaghetti Wiring 101 – a How To Guide

  1. Invest in small velcro cable ties and white labelmaker labels.
  2. Start simple. Pick one unit and extract the wires.
  3. Label both ends of the extracted wire, with descriptive helpers such as  “To TiVo” or “From Wii”.
  4. Grouping wires using velcro straps. Open a strap and add new wire to bundle and velcro back up.
  5. Only deal with the units you need too, this is not the time to re-wire the world.
  6. Use a camera to take photos before you start and after you finish. Store photos for future reference.

It’s All in the Title

I believe in karma when testing.  I had ripped the guts of my system apart. Had dust bunnies across everything and now was the time to test the system. I pulled out my test media I thought were in line with the situation. For DVD, Defiance, the amazing true story of survival during the Holocaust. For CD, The Big Chill soundtrack,  a collection of classic tunes all music lovers should own. For VHS, The Nutcracker, a fantasy story about a little girl’s dream world with beautiful music.

Well look at this, the first few images from Defiance, one down, two left. Next up the first few notes of Marvin Gaye’s I heard it through the Grapevine sweetly reached my ears. Finally darling little Clara dancing with Sugarplum Fairies. I had done it!

I had defied the spaghetti wiring while a DVD player and VCR were casualties of their own big chill. I had cracked the nut of taking the wiring mess and giving it beautiful future. (I warned you this was full of puns.) Let’s hear your stories of spaghetti wiring warfare, puns welcome.