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What can you guys tell me about a quick disconnect on a snake??


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Hey Guys,

 

I have a MixWiz3 16:2 in a 14 space road ready slant rack. The I/O section of the board folded underneath the mixer for space reasons.

 

I have been thinking about different ways to access the channels/aux sends/left-right mono main outs. I'm thinking about patchbay panels on the front of the rack, short sub-snakes stored in the rear of the cabinet, etc.

 

I saw a used snake for sale recently that had multi-pin disconnects. One of the disconnect points was about 7' out from the fan tail. It got me thinking that might be a pretty cool way to do things, leaving the fan tail hooked up inside the rack and hooking up the rest of the snake when I needed it.

 

I tried doing a search under 'quick disconnect', 'multi pin quick disconnect' and 'snake multi pin quick disconnect', but didn't find very much, so I'm opening up a thread here. What do you guys think? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of arrangement?

 

Here are some pics:

multipin.jpg

 

rapcosnake.jpg

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That looks like on of the Whirlwind MASS connectors to me. We use disconnects on our 40x16 main snake. The FOH fan tail stays wired to the console in the doghouse and then the main 250' trunk gets coiled up into the case the snake is mounted in. There is also another matching disconnect with a 25' fantail for the monitor split or using the snake with another console for FOH without pulling the main fantail. This also means we can cross rent an additional 150' length for the main snake to extend it out to FOH which we've had to do before.

 

The connectors are expensive but it's what all professional snakes have for the most part so you don't end up wrestling the fan tail when coiling and don't have to keep repatching it.

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For a 16 channel mixer I don't know if I'd bother - it's more money, in a situation which isn't super complicated to begin with. 32 channels, probably yes.

 

What if you spent just a few dollars on a label printer and some color-coding things like rings to put around each 1/4" jack?

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Multipin disconnects are great, they save a ton of time and frustration, but they're a huge pain when they break or malfunction. I would be very hesitant to rely on a multipin connector that I didn't have the parts and tools to service if the need arises. If you don't have the ability to service the connector in the field, it would be wise to have a backup snake.

 

From my experience, Ramtech/AMP connectors are much easier to field service than Whirlwind. Crimp pins are much easier to work with than solder pins, to the extent that I would say solder pins are not field servicable. I've never used an Elco connector, but they don't look like something I would want to use.

 

Advantages of multipin connectors: they make things much faster and easier, which is great. Plus they're cool.

 

Disadvantages: expensive, relatively delicate, somewhat difficult and time consuming to build/service.

 

When I build Ramtech/AMP connectors, I need all the connectors parts and pins, crimper, strippers, nippers, razor blade knife, 2 sizes of heat shrink, and a heat gun. So it's a fair amount of stuff. But they actually take me less time than soldering XLR's, which I find somewhat amazing. And convenient.

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They are fine as long as you hook things up the same way every time. As soon as you have to mess around with changing configurations, often all of the time savings is gone.

 

I use multipins on some things but not on (most) others because of this. Then there's the cost and if it breaks you are screwed.

 

Saw a sound company pull the end off of a snake because they were careless pulling it through a duct. That was a costly and VERY inconvenient mistake.

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ELCO is a very inexpensive multipin connector as these things go. With reasonable care they last a long time. I used a number of them for years without incident, but you must understand that they can be damaged if you are careless. I have no issue with them and have a box full of parts, pins and tools in my garage because I have used that many of them. If you work with them yourself, they will do fine. If you have careless/drunk/kid helpers then they are NOT for you.

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I've been using multipin disconnects for 30+ years with my weekend warrior bar bands. As far as expense, if one can solder decently, good used amphenol military spec connectors are often available for little money at electronic surplus shops. I've never had one of them break on me, and have used several of them. The initial construction of the snake takes some time and effort, but for me it has been worth it, especially when I used an Allen Heath GL2 with all of the connectors on the underneath panel, which was a royal pain to hook up, until I wired the fan in and hooked up the multipin. I even use one when mixing from onstage; I drop a 15' snake box onstage for people to hook up. Saves me some setup time. YMMV

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Careless helpers are the issue, at least for me, I'm afraid.

 

 

On a big rig, multipins can be a tremendous time saver, not only from the aspect of the sheer amount of connections that need to be made, but also from the standpoint of lessening mis-patches.

 

I remember a Saigon Kick gig I was the production contractor on... probably about 20 years... it was one of those memorable experiences... the weather was absolutely horrid, the venue management had dropped the ball bad, I was working out of my comfort zone and single handedly because my crew couldn't make it due to road closings, I got to the venue 8 hours before the scheduled sound check time only to finally gain access to the building and start loading-in about 2 hours before the event was scheduled to start. Anyhoo: In about 45 minutes I'd managed to load-in and set-up: the racks & stacks (tri-amped system, 24ea. hornloaded cabinets), boards (32ch split mix), 8 monitors, 32 can light show on front & back trusses, dimmer rack, and set the power distro including 150ft. x 2 of 6-4SO... and I was just starting to plug it all in... and calculating in my head how many connections I needed to make per minute to have everything wired, sparked, and moderately dialed in before showtime... and sweating... when "somebody" jumped me about something that they thought I needed to do NOW... that didn't have anything to do with my job-at-hand. I snapped back: "Look lady, I have approx. 400 connections to make in like the next hour, and if I don't get this done and every connection made correctly, this show ain't gonna happen." She wandered off.

 

Anyhoo: If you're making 400 connections per show, or even a 150 connections, and multipins can cut that amount way-down... sure, multipins can be justified. However, trustworthy multipin connections can cost real money (possibly $1K or more per mating pair assembled on the cable) and generally require TLC.

 

Considering you're running 16ch. FOH console, I'd guess that chances are your "careless helpers" are probably well meaning volunteers. Also, chances are you're probably making less than 100 patches per show. And, chances are if your multipin disconnect on your snake takes a bad hit and becomes dysfunction, you probably don't have plan B, besides mixing stage-side. If so, I'll suggest that color coding your connections could be a better over-all plan than incorporating multipins.

 

One color coding idea that I use is: On my board, I've put colored electrician's tape above the panel jacks that I use all the time, matching the color of electrician's tape to the groups of colors on the fantails of the snakes I use. This seems to really help as I've found it's much easier and quicker to sort out 4 numbers among one color group than sorting out all the numbers at once.

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On a big rig, multipins can be a tremendous time saver, not only from the aspect of the sheer amount of connections that need to be made, but also from the standpoint of lessening mis-patches.


I remember a Saigon Kick gig I was the production contractor on... probably about 20 years... it was one of those memorable experiences... the weather was absolutely horrid, the venue management had dropped the ball bad, I was working out of my comfort zone and single handedly because my crew couldn't make it due to road closings, I got to the venue 8 hours before the scheduled sound check time only to finally gain access to the building and start loading-in about 2 hours before the event was scheduled to start. Anyhoo: In about 45 minutes I'd managed to load-in and set-up: the racks & stacks (tri-amped system, 24ea. hornloaded cabinets), boards (32ch split mix), 8 monitors, 32 can light show on front & back trusses, dimmer rack, and set the power distro including 150ft. x 2 of 6-4SO... and I was just starting to plug it all in... and calculating in my head how many connections I needed to make per minute to have everything wired, sparked, and moderately dialed in before showtime... and sweating... when "somebody" jumped me about something that they thought I needed to do NOW... that didn't have anything to do with my job-at-hand. I snapped back: "Look lady, I have approx. 400 connections to make in like the next hour, and if I don't get this done and every connection made correctly, this show ain't gonna happen." She wandered off.


Anyhoo: If you're making 400 connections per show, or even a 150 connections, and multipins can cut that amount way-down... sure, multipins can be justified. However, trustworthy multipin connections can cost real money (possibly $1K or more per mating pair assembled on the cable) and generally require TLC.


Considering you're running 16ch. FOH console, I'd guess that chances are your "careless helpers" are probably well meaning volunteers. Also, chances are you're probably making less than 100 patches per show. And, chances are if your multipin disconnect on your snake takes a bad hit and becomes dysfunction, you probably don't have plan B, besides mixing stage-side. If so, I'll suggest that color coding your connections could be a better over-all plan than incorporating multipins.


One color coding idea that I use is: On my board, I've put colored electrician's tape above the panel jacks that I use all the time, matching the color of electrician's tape to the groups of colors on the fantails of the snakes I use. This seems to really help as I've found it's much easier and quicker to sort out 4 numbers among one color group than sorting out all the numbers at once.

 

Hi Mark,

 

OP here. First off thank you and every one else for all of the opinions and information, I really appreciate the guidance.

 

Based on what I've learned, I don't think I'll be going the 'quick disconnect' route. I don't want to drop $500, much less $1,000, per male/female disconnect, plus I'm a terrible solderer.

 

And Mark, you're right. In terms of the total amount of connections, I just counted it up and I think I make about 75-80 connections to get set up for a show, not counting electrical power connections. Oh, there are more connections, but the FX/Rack gear is already 'cabled -up'; DriveRack, monitor EQ's & Feedback Suppressors are already wired into the appropriate places, vis a vis each other and the board.

 

My original thought was to use a multi pin disconnect to save 'space' inside my rack mixers' already crowded rear compartment.

 

Why? My gear is in a fairly shallow (10 spaces deep, 14 space high) slant rack mixer case. Because of the case depth, I have rotated myMixWiz I/O board 90 degrees and it is now tucked underneath the mixer. The channel inputs are hard to get to, plus the cables drop into the rear compartment. jlussow has recommended using xlr patchbay panels on the front of the rack, but I was trying to see what other options were available, before I committed to thrust on his method.

 

Whoa....... Having said all that, a friend just called me and told me about a Whirlwind 2 space patchbay rack with 16 sends x 8 returns, a 3' fan and pass-throughs. It's over at the local Guitar Center, for a ridiculous price. I just went out and bought it. The connectors say 'lichtenstein'. Does that mean they are Neutrik??

 

Here's the Whirlwind Panel. It's called a 20112 model:

 

photo-24-1.jpg

 

I'm thinkin' it's going in here pretty quick!

 

photo-21-1.jpg

 

Thanks for everything guys!

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16 ins and a few outs is a far cry from 75-80 connections on that rack. EQ's and drive can all stay connected to the console, fx too. That leaves 16 mic lines, left and right drive and monitor sends. How do you get 75-80 connections, did I miss some critical piece of info?

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Andy, he said 75-80 for a show, not just the FOH rack. 16 mic cables are 32 connections (1 one each end.) Mains are 4 more, plus maybe 4 monitor so another 8 connections. Thats 44 depending on how you count the connections. Tops and subs are two per cab so another 8 making 52 so far. I guess if you count both ends of a cable you can get to 70-80 pretty quickly.

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Andy, he said 75-80 for a show, not just the FOH rack. 16 mic cables are 32 connections (1 one each end.) Mains are 4 more, plus maybe 4 monitor so another 8 connections. Thats 44 depending on how you count the connections. Tops and subs are two per cab so another 8 making 52 so far. I guess if you count both ends of a cable you can get to 70-80 pretty quickly.

 

 

But the savings from multi-pins isn't going to come close to 75-80 connections. The FOH rack is the only viable place and even that is almost a wash.

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But the savings from multi-pins isn't going to come close to 75-80 connections. The FOH rack is the only viable place and even that is almost a wash.

 

Hi Andy, I'm the OP with the, ah, suspect connection count. Here goes:

 

Mark (audiopile Mark) talked about 'connections' in his post and hazarded a guess that, with a 16 channel board, I probably had less than a hundred connections to make. Candidly, I had never even thought about what constituted a 'connection' before, but did notice that Mark was relating the number of connections to a time-management problem. Accordingly, I decided that, since the act of each connection took time, it should be counted.....

 

16 mic or line inputs (4 vox, 2 drum, 2 elec. guitar, 1 acoustic/elec gtr., 1 banjo, 1 mando, 1 bass, 1-2 keys and 1-2 faders for fx control), 8 sends (4 aux, 4 DriveRack outs) on the board makes for 24 initial connections. Once I get to the stage-box, I again connect 24 cables. That takes time and also doesn't get done by itself, so we are up to 48. Finally, like axis said I count both ends of the stage cables (that is, actually connecting the cables to the mics, the instruments, the FOH and Monitor lines), so that's a grand total of around 72.

 

On your last comment, you talk about the savings from multi pin connections being a wash. I do not disagree.

 

As I stated in an earlier post, I was primarily thinking of the quick disconnect option as a way to leave my fantail with a few feet of cable connected to my mix-wiz I/O inside my small slant rack mixer case. Again, I wanted to do this so I could have my snake hooked up to my recessed I/O, with a short enough length of snake attached so that I wasn't crushing up the rest of the cabling inside the rear of the rack case.

 

The reasoning behind all of this is to find the most 'time, cost and weight' effective way to carry out my set-up. The variables are the snake, sub snakes, patch-bay or a bigger, better rack case.

 

We've already talked about snakes, so we're on to sub-snakes. I could 'permanently' hook-up three very short (10') eight-channel sub snakes into the mixwiz and the driverack, store them inside the rack, then drop them just outside the rack to hook-up with the main 16x8 snake (one of the sub-snakes would have to be reconfigured for the Return lines) when the time came. Anybody think this is a good idea?

 

Patch-bays. I don't have anything against xlr channel patch bays on the front my rack, but, if I have a 14 space rack and I use two rack spaces for a patch bay panel, I only have a 12 space rack for my gear. That means I can't throw a drawer in the bottom for a few tools and my DriveRack mic (although the drawer would add weight, wouldn't it?). Also, where on the front of the rack do you actually place the patch bays, so the fan-tail won't get in the way of viewing your other gear? At the top? in the middle? At the bottom so you can trip on it??

 

If I get a 'taller and deeper' slant rack, I can carry more FX and can get easier access to my MixWiz I/O board, but the new case will weigh about 40 pounds more than my current roll around rack. My 'shallow' 14 sp rack weighs about 130 lbs, loaded. A larger case would change that to 170 lbs. That's a lot of extra weight for my 'exceedingly-old guy band' to pick up if we run into a situation where we have to carry the rack across a football field, etc.

 

Still, now that I have the Whirlwind patchbay (see pic above), I think the die is cast!

I'm now officially a patch bay man!

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Candidly, I had never even thought about what constituted a 'connection' before, but did notice that Mark was relating the number of connections to a time-management problem. Accordingly, I decided that, since the act of each connection took time, it should be counted.....

 

Back then (20 years ago), I believe the only multipin snakes I had in the rig were the Cinch Jones connections on the dimmer board and dimmer packs, and even at that, I was running 4 lighting snakes to control 32ch. of dimming. The dimmer racks to par cans cables were all Edison connections, individual lines from the dimmer rack to the cans. The FOH system was also all individual signal lines, two conductor cable, from the amp racks to the cabinets... all L5-15 connectors. The bi-amp monitors were powered with 4 conductor cable though, with L14-20 connectors.

 

I remember I thought I'd reached Nirvana when I stepped up to Sockapex lighting cable, 6 bars, and MPX... and Neutrik NL4 and NL8 connectors for speaker cabinets... and multi-way FOH speaker cabinets.

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Chickentown wrote:

 

"Back seat out of a mid-80's Astro Van, by chance? I've got a pair of those in the garage, myself. :) "

 

Chick', you're right! Astro Van seat it is! A good friend, an 85 year old Hammond Organ tech, gave it to me. It sits on a handmade roll-around dolly at my rehearsal space, so the Ladies can have something to sit on when they visit.

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So, the potential savings is at the rack to snake interface and that could be done with a single multipin carrying at least 24 pair (72 pins).

 

There's no savings at the other end because you need to connect to mic cables and onto the mics.

 

24 connections is about a 5 minute job.

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So, the potential savings is at the rack to snake interface and that could be done with a single multipin carrying at least 24 pair (72 pins).


There's no savings at the other end because you need to connect to mic cables and onto the mics.


24 connections is about a 5 minute job.

 

Andy, I must be saying this wrong or something. I've been known to do that and I apologize. Please let me try one more time.

 

I agree that it should take five minutes or less to hook up a snake to a mixer, that is, if the inputs are accessible. In fact, I just connected my old 16x4 snake (20 connections total) to the Whirlwind patch bay panel (now installed in the slant rack case). It took 3 minutes and 41 seconds. Probably, it would have taken about the same time to connect the snake to my board when it lived in a 'mixer only' Road Runner case.

 

However, my MixWiz now lives in the aforementioned 'shallow depth' slant rack case. The I/O section of the Mixwiz is no longer in the usual position at the back of the mixer, i.e., 'free standing position'. The I/O section has been rotated to fit flush against the back of the mixwiz. They call this the 'rack position' probably because I feel like I've been on a Medieval Torture Rack after I try and access the I/O from the inside of the case........ I'm trying to say that all of the inputs and sends are only accessible by reaching both 'into the back side of the case' and then 'up into the top of the back side of the case'.

 

Here's a pic of the back of my case with Mix Wiz in place in the 'rack position'. You can't see the I/O section of the mixer because it's been rotated downward (you can see 5 grayish ribbon connectors if you look). You can see how the fantail cables are going straight up and out of sight (apologies for the wiring, when I get everything in 'final position', the cabling will be on one side of the mixer and the power cords will be on the other):

 

photo-25-1.jpg

 

Andy, I'm old and slow. I weigh around 300 lbs, plus I look like Santa Claus with a hangover. I make Wavy Gravy look good (just kidding, I dug that pic of you and Wavy a while back). Please believe me when I tell you it's a real pain in the ass to go deep inside the rack, fumble around blind and hook up the 24 connections every time I go to a gig. It's also much, much, much more time than 5 minutes. If it's a five minute job for you, my hat's off to you, Sir.

 

So, it's not just about saving a little time. It's about saving a lot of time, in a way that will not impact the limited amount of space in the back of the case (I don't have room to keep a 100' snake with stage box in the back of the case).

 

I agree that what I do at the rack doesn't impact the other 50 connections on stage, but that wasn't my issue. I can get to the speaker, monitor and mic connections easily compared to the 'board in the rack'.

 

Hope this makes more sense and thank you for your time.

 

Harry

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