Retractable Power Cord Reels

Hi
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 power cords?
and if anyone uses a cord reel in their shop, what do you like and dislike about your reel?
Thanks for helping out!
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In message
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes

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 no less).

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 wireless cable?
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!
--
Someone

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

But only light electrical loads if it's not fully extended?
-- Nige Danton
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Which way round will your reel be? With most reels the sockets are on the reel and the plug is pulled away. 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.
--
Graham

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Well fairly obviously 240V with 13A sockets.
Is that a problem for you?
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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)

4
Portable
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 much else.
--
Cheers,

John.

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Design something else,this will never make you the millions.
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We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com saying something like:

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, too.
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 Americanism.
--

Dave

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saying something

Thats funny,Cambridge doesn't site it as American.
I remember me Pa asking me to get the power cord out the garage. ;-)
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George wrote:

Just Google for "Lehigh University".
Edgar
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saying

Ok,I cant find me hat. ;-)
How do you know its LeHigh? he could have made a typo? Leigh. :-)
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On 25/02/2008 17:29, George wrote:

Check the IP address it was originally posted from http://who.is/whois-ip/ip-address/128.180.196.246 /
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Did you see the smiley?
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On 25/02/2008 17:38, George wrote:

Yes, but no harm done was there?
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George wrote:

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 University. 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.
Edgar
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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: http://www.acehardwaresuperstore.com/ace-retractable-extension-cord-reel-wpower-block-p-21500.html?refB
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!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: <snip>

<snip>
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 wants one!
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 connection.
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 China?)
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.
--
Rod

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says...

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. snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.fr
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David in Normandy wrote:

Absolutely agree.
Years ago, I changed to in-line connectors i.e. >http://www.screwfix.com/prods/16262/Electrical/Cable-Accessories/Cable-Connectors/Rubber-Cable-Connector < 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.
Steve
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On Mon, 25 Feb 2008 17:56:00 +0000,it is alleged that Edgar
[snip]

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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