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Open Cable Chain

by Claghorn, published

Open Cable Chain by Claghorn Dec 27, 2014
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A remix of http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:11978 to remove the top bar in the links and instead provide springy clips which can be easily removed and replaced to keep the cables in the chain, while still allowing them to be replaced without having to thread everything through from the end.

The files named CableChain*.stl are included here, but came from thing 11978 (though the fixed version here had to be run through the netfabb repair service).

See a dry run of a chain attached to my solidoodle at http://youtu.be/j9XkiM4_Mn4

I've also included a couple of Solidoodle specific parts for mounting the cable chain ends on the extruder and the back of the case and included a part extracted from http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:111213

The original version of this thing used bits of 1.75mm filament instead of springy clips, but it was too easy to break the filament. The springs work much better.

The long drawn out description and history of this thing can be found at http://tomhorsley.com/hardware/solidoodle/solidoodle-chain.html


The files included with this thing fall into a few different categories.

  • new-chain.scad

    The main openscad source file with all the module definitions.

The parts for the cable chain itself:

  • nobar_sixteen.stl, nobar_sixteen.scad

    An array of 16 cable chain links (will fit on a 6 inch bed).

  • spring_sixteen.stl, spring_sixteen.scad

    An array of 16 spring clips used to close the links.

  • end_two.stl, end_two.scad

    The two cable chain end pieces.

Solidoodle specific parts I used for mounting the cable chain:

  • barclip.stl, barclip.scad

    Special clip to hold a 8mm bar just above the top of the Solidoodle for the chain slide on. I needed to print this with the detect thin walls option in slic3r or the support in the front didn't print.

  • extruder-chain-mount.stl, extruder-chain-mount.scad

    Complicated infrastructure built on top of the mk5 extruder filament clip. Definitely needs to print with supports.

  • filament-cap.stl, filament-cap.scad

    Cap to go over the top filament guide on the extruder-chain-mount to keep the filament from snaeking out of the guide.

  • top-chain-mount.stl, top-chain-mount.scad

    Special clip to go in the back corner of the Solidoodle to mount the cable chain and allow the cables to drop through a hole to the motherboard on the back of the printer.

Files extracted from thing 11978:

  • CableChain.stl
  • CableChainEnds_fixed.stl
  • end1_fixed.stl
  • end2_fixed.stl

File extracted from thing 111213:

  • mk5_extruder_filament_guide_fixed.stl

Obsolete old version of new-chain.scad included in case anyone actually wants the version that used bits of filament in place of the spring clips (but I don't recommend this version):

  • bad-chain.scad

To print just the cable chain, print one copy of end_two.stl and as many copies of nobar_sixteen.stl and spring_sixteen.stl as you need to make the chain as long as desired. The pieces simply clip together, and the ends have bolt holes for mounting.

For my Solidoodle 2, I used 23 links in my chain and also needed two of the barclip.stl parts, and one each of extruder-chain-mount.stl, filament-cap.stl, and top-chain-mount.stl (as well as a spare 8mm rod to go in the barclip).

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I really like this chain ... I've upscaled the link by 115% (the length and height) for a larger link (have lots of wiring) and found by leaving the spring at 100% it fits just perfect without and post-processing (at least for my printer)

I need to make a mount for this for my v-slot and for my extruder/hotend mount.

Do you (or anyone else) ... have a .step file for any of these - links especially?

I would greatly appreciate getting those so as to make a bit easier for my noobie 3D designing to come up with the mounts.


Thanks, the best I saw.
And those springs work great. Nice to look at too. ;-)

thanks for the design i was having problems with the spring wire holders so i knid of redesigned your design by rounding off outer to inner edge by rounding it so that it can flex in both ways then you put 1 in and 1 out and 1 in ect so that the cable is totally enclosed inside the chain with out any other clips

if you can re design these with that bottom square rounded so it swings both ways this would be the most perfect desighn of any of the cable chains on thingyverse

again thanks for your work

The chain works great in PLA but the springs won't fit :(

Comments deleted.

Currently printing a lot of larger single links to handle cable management in my shop. Just wanted to drop by and say that I appreciate the dovetail for the spring-to-link connection - very nice little detail!

Have any pictures?

I started installing this and found that my SD2 cables are too short! How did you guys deal with this?

I cut the cables and spliced in some extra length of wire (making sure it was at least as large a gauge as the cable I cut). Very important: Remember to push some shrink wrap on the cables before soldering in the splice so you can shove it over the splice and shrink it down :-).

Hmm... I think I might go for the Claghorn-Nema clip hybrid version before I start cable splicing :D

I made a minor change attaching the "End" to the "top-chain-mount", rotating the mount (about) 80degrees, now the chain is shorter, and has been printing successfully for a few days

pic at http://rce.com.au/Solidoodle/Improved_shorter-Cable-Chain.jpg

Looks good. I'm amazed that someone else is actually using the hard to print carriage mount I came up with :-). What on earth are those two green and chrome "wings" sticking off either side on the top of your solidoodle though?

The "wings" are from a (totally useless) LED torch I was given - but ripped apart they give great illumination of the 'doodle's bed.

I like the design, but the round part of the links has overhangs problems for me in PLA, the angle is so shallow it gets wonky, and the round part doesn't come close to touching the adjacent link, so I modified them by adding a section that squares it off going down to the plate, I imagine in ABS the overhang isn't as much of a problem though.

Also successfully made a version that's 20% smaller, shrunk the design 20% in 2 axis but moved the 2 side parts closer to each other by 4mm (making the width 18mm~ from 22mm~) instead of scaling that axis because the side parts got too thin and didn't print right. Plan on using the smaller version on my X axis of my i3 and the larger ones on my Z axis.

That's really interesting, indeed.
So where is it?

Just wanted to thank you for sharing this great design, very easy to print and works perfectly. The availability of the OpenSCAD sources makes it very convenient to adapt to any specific setup.

I absolutely LOVE this design. But could you pretty pretty PRETTY please post files of an individual chain link and an individual springy clip?

I would be forever in your debt.

No problem. I've added the nobar_one.scad and nobar_one.stl files with the chain link and spring_one.scad and spring_one.stl files with the spring link.

Awesome! Thank you so much!!

I see that the attachment for the back and the carriage puts the chain higher than the frame. Do you have, or could get, the clearance height for me? I have the pro case, but its on spacers. I could always alter your design to fit, but I'd like to know if I even have to before I start printing.

From the top of the metal case on the SD2 to the top of the cable chain in the back appears to be 43.2mm (depending on how accurate my calipers are). I didn't have to worry about it with my foamboard top that is high enough to enclose the filament spool. I wouldn't want to try and move wires in and out of the chain in a tightly fitting area :-).

Thank you so much for the helpful and expedient reply. Looks like I might have to modify it.

Comments deleted.

I tried printing some of the closed-in cable chain, and was having a BEAR of a time with the bridges on top!
This is a much simpler solution, and I actually like it better, because I plan on adding another fan, and some LED's to my extruder sometime in the future.

This'll go on my backlog to see how it works!

Pretty smart idea, I like it! :)

It will only be a smart idea if it works. If the filament snaps off after a few cables are inserted, it might not be so smart after all :-).