I'm a student at Lehigh University working on a project to design an
improved power cord reel. The reel would contain an extension cord,
and be able to extend and retract. While extended, the cord would lock
in place similarly to how a blind does. My group is trying to design a
cord reel aimed at the home workshop environment. We are trying to
find out what our potential users want in a cord reel.
Some things that we want to know more about are:
What length cord would you need for your shop?
What gauge cord would you need?
How many outlets would you want to be on the cord?
Would you prefer to have the cord reel mounted on the wall, or sitting
on a table?
What factors would be the most important to you when deciding to buy a
product like ours?
What are any problems or inconviences that you have experienced with
and if anyone uses a cord reel in their shop, what do you like and
dislike about your reel?
Thanks for helping out!
Oh man, you really should have checked out the state of mental health
care in your area before asking.
That's a difficult question. The cord has to morph between "not even
there" and 1000m without any user intervention. You see long cords are
heavy, they can tangle etc. So it always has to be just the right
length. And "just the right length" can be so short as to not be there.
Are you planning to invent the invisible extension lead?
Oh, you really, really need to check out those mental health services.
If you were to be so brave as to google for 'volt drop' 'cable'
'uk.d-i-y' you would quickly see that gauge can never be big enough. As
well as being invisible it should be as wide as a train (but not them
new fangled French ones).
No, no, no, no. From which outlet would you prefer to "buy the cord".
You haven't done much of this DIY thing have you? I recommend you
rephrase, maybe even go multichoice on that one..... Consider the
options such as "From which outlet would you like your cord"....
"Lidl/Aldi/Screwfix/Been and Queued/Travis Screwed You/KeyWallet" et al.
This will guarantee you some feedback.
In my tool belt. Invisible. Weightless. Infinite length. Mega gauge.
Wireless and HD ready. Everyone knows the future is wireless/HD.
Oh don't. Just see above really (well apart from the time I tied SWMBO
down with a curly "unknottable" cable and couldn't get the knots free
afterwards. They offered me a refund and assistance with the
'unknotting' but I refused. I said I'd only settle for another reel, and
Dislikes. That's so easy. They didn't have another spare reel to hand.
Complete b***ocks I thought so I used my SDS and some anchor fixings. Do
you have any idea how much they cost compared to some good old fashioned
Man, it was horrendous. Had to bring the cooker upstairs to her aswell.
No, not at all. Just wish you'd invent some real proper wireless cable
instead of all this HD ready stuff everyone is else is punting.
Good luck and keep me informed!
Which way round will your reel be?
With most reels the sockets are on the reel and the plug is
Maybe it would be useful to locate the reel at the wall socket
and have a trailing socket that pulls away.
Hay, what if it could do both? I am thinking two reels side-
by side connected by slip-rings.
In any case a coiled up cable will overheat when used on
moderate or heavy loads, you need to protect against this.
Rather not use a cord in my shop at all - I would have designed it with
plenty of sockets where they are likely to be needed.
It is outside a workshop where the extension lead comes in handy.
No point in making it anything other than full load capable (i.e. 13A 240V)
Fully enclosed design and good winding handle.
Needing to fully unwind them for high loads.
I have a JoJo 50M enclosed reel with 4 sockets that work well for most
applications requiring distance, and a short 3m 2 outlet one for adding
extra working length to tools etc when required. Not felt the need for
We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the
drugs began to take hold. I remember firstname.lastname@example.org saying something
Any spring-powered retractable reel I've ever used has been universally
shit. Either the spring is too strong or not strong enough, then the
ratchet is busted eventually. The sockets on them are usually rubbish,
There's nothing wrong with simple manual winding of a extension cable.
Oh, by the way, we call it 'cable' this side of the pond, 'cord' is an
I'm old fashioned. I still assume people at University can spell and
don't make typos - especially about something like the name of their
Oddly both spellings seem to come up with the same place at Bethlehem
PA. So someone can't spell.
I thought cord was that resistive dropper flex for old wireless sets.
Hey guy, thanks for all the responses!
Good detective work, it is Lehigh in Bethlehem PA.
Anyways, since I'm not sure exactly what the difference between a cord
and cable is in England, so I'll just show you something like what
we're trying to do in order to clear up any confusion:
To Rod about the patent issues: This isn't for an actualy commercial
product. Its for a product development class. We design it, make a
prototype, and do financial analysis on it, but thats it. Its up to
you if you want to share your idea, but you don't have to worry about
us patenting it and selling it or anything like that.
To everyone else: Thanks for your input. Some of this stuff we haven't
considered yet, such as the cord overheating. Its also nice to hear
what you guys want in a cord reel.
Thanks and keep it coming!
I appreciated that. Imagine back in 1932 (or some such far distant
time), someone thought "make the cable yellow so it more visible and
hence reduces trip hazard". They send the idea to a newspaper. A company
starts doing it. The original "inventor" cannot have any protection
because their idea has been disclosed. The company makes a fortune. The
original "inventor" has to pay the premium for a yellow cable when he
I was trying to point out:
If I have any good ideas, I am not likely to disclose them in a public
forum. Most especially not one available to anyone with an internet
If I nonetheless do disclose them, and you *or anyone else on the
planet* exploits them, I will feel really badly done by. (Even though it
is my fault for disclosing it.)
If someone then went on somehow to get a patent on it (even though a
disclosed idea usually constitutes prior art and that should stop it
being granted), that would be really annoying. And I would probably not
have the resources to fight it. (Have you ever fought a patent case in
I was trying to seriously point out one of the limitations of your approach.
You might do better punting a few of *your* ideas and asking for
comments. For example, you might have done a design in which the cable
is tightly coiled and get a comment about it overheating if not fully
unwound. Your next idea might therefore include a fan. That gets
comments about noise, reliability of the fan, etc.
O - and an idea! Plaster, paint and everything else repellent surfaces
to cable and reel so that any drips that hit it do not stick.
Slightly unrelated, but I wish manufacturers of all power
tools made the length of leads long enough to cater for
"normal" usage in the first place without needing to plug
the tool into an extension lead in the first place. I once
bought a drill from Homebase that only had a four foot long
lead - fine until you want to screw some fixings into the
ceiling or even at head height into a wall - then you have
the weight of an extension reel hanging from the other end
or have to prop one up so the lead is long enough. All such
power tools should come with at least two metres of cable
in my opinion.
David in Normandy. email@example.com
To e-mail you must include the password FROG on the
Years ago, I changed to in-line connectors i.e.
for this reason.
All my power tools have this arrangement and with a few of the females
connected to various lengths of cable back to the mains plug, it has
proved to be quite versatile in practice.
On Mon, 25 Feb 2008 17:56:00 +0000,it is alleged that Edgar
I could be wrong, but I think *originally* it depended on the
construction, for example those flexible cables that were corded,
braid covered and twisted/plaited were called cord, those that were
'cts' or 'cab tyre sheathed' (read: rubber), were called 'flexible
cable' or 'flex' for short.
In modern usage, 'cord' is still used in the telecomms industry, along
with the less well known 'cordage'
It's quite normal for me to be asked for '5 cords, black, for 332s,
and 2 cords, grey, for 746s' or similar.
My time in the US might have influenced my usage, but I now tend to
think of 'power cords' but 'usb leads' etc.
In response to the OP, a very flexible style of cable/flex/cord
(delete as appropriate) is important to me, I can't stand extension
leads/cords that wrench themselves back off the workbench etc due to
stiffness of the cable. A 4 way socket on the end is best, but 2 way
would be tolerable if it was easier. I agree with some of the other
posters, if you need a fixed extension reel, you probably need more
fixed sockets, extension reels should be temporary/portable, and
indeed will be more useful as such. I've often wondered if a step-on
self retracting mechanism such as used in some vacuum cleaners might
be a good idea.
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