Using Dock Cleats As Cable Managers In Classrooms
When it comes to computer cabling in classroom environments, no matter what you do for the long runs, you usually a mess on your hands those final few feet to the faculty equipment.
No matter what you do in your school classrooms to handle cabling for faculty, there is that final length of cable for audio and video to projectors, interactive boards and audio that usually is a total cluster. Then, add-in the multiple uses and people in the rooms doing a variety of different types of presentations in different locations in the room and you compound the issue. In our case, we had long cables running from the projector and speakers and the length connecting to faculty laptops has always been a nightmare to deal with. They sits on the ground and constantly get kicked around, removed, lost and/or damaged. It also just looks bad when you come in and see a pile of cables you need to rely on for a teaching session.
In addition to adding cable management from the projectors and speakers in the room through putting then behind the walls (if you can) or going with cable tracking to conceal and secure cables, you still need some slack to allow teachers to setup in the space in different locations. Because you want to leave some slack, but it can stay unorganized. All strict cable management systems from the usual vendors are really geared to hold the cabling in a fixed position. This doesn’t work for that final few feet from the wall you want for the teacher to be flexible with depending on their material and hardware use.
I found nothing great out there in the cabling vertical market intended to handle this sort of scenario. But, there are many solutions out there for dealing with situations LIKE this on boats with rope, which is why I looked to solutions with rope management and found that dock cleats could be a perfect solution. Different materials and environments, but very similar form and function. After a talk with L-W Visual Arts teacher, Robert Sanborn, who happens to be extremely knowledgeable of boat hardware and interiors, I found out that I should head down to West Marine and see what they have that could work for VGA and other rope-like cabling we deal with in schools.
West Marine had many different types of dock cleats but the Dock Edge Classic Cleat models seemed to be the best one to use in my opinion because it was lightweight, sturdy and seemed like our walls could handle it without too much trouble. Going through the check-out, the cashier asked if I had a boat (which we do not.) After briefly explaining I would be using this in a classroom, he smiled pretending to understand and was happy to sell whatever to me for whatever reason. Sidenote: If you have never had the chance to go in and look around store that carry boat supplies, I highly recommend it. There is a lot of really cool equipment and tools for boats but have so many other applications as well.
After We are getting a bunch in and will be installing in every classroom as we can in addition to normalizing the cabling runs with boxes and tracking. The have white and powder-coated models. We will get a mix of both depending what we can continue to acquire from vendors. I prefer 8 1/2 inch model (PN#2508W-F) as it provides enough spacing for decent extra length from the wall to take into the room for a table or desk use presentation.
Besides working quite well to tether the last few feet of a VGA, audio and USB cable, the cleat provides relief on the cable run itself to the rest of the run when it is pulled from the desk or table with the equipment. It stops the pull to the rest of the cabling in the track or behind the wall while still providing organization.
Lastly, it is also pretty fun to say you are getting a piece of equipment for your classrooms of your school from Bass Pro Shops (as they sell this model as well!) But, there are many places on the web you can order them from if you don’t have a local boat shop in your area. Depending on which sizes you get, the pricing ranges from $10-$30 or so.