It’s a fact: RC vehicles are laden with on-board wires. And to top it off, wires are delicate and often left of out in the open, where they are susceptible to damage and sometimes look plain old sloppy. From the very beginning, RC owners have searched for ways to combat loose wires. Over time, four simple and effective methods have been found to protect and clean-up the wiring mess on a car’s chassis.
The Zip-tie Method
A great way to harness loose servo and power wires is by using small zip-ties. For servo wires, first bundle them-up neatly like an accordion, so that the flat sides of the wires face each other, and then strap a zip tie over the center, holding the bundle together. For speed control or motor power wires, bunch them together, and then strap zip-ties wherever needed, keeping them together instead of floating loose on the chassis.
Zip-ties are very strong and have hard corners. When using zip-ties to secure loose wires, be careful not to pull them too tight. An overly-tightened zip-tie can easily sever a wire—especially over time. Always pull the zip-tie tight, but not so tight that it pinches the wires to the point of fraying.
The Coil Method
To make servo or receiver wires into neat, retractable coils, first wrap the wires neatly around the shaft of a screwdriver, starting at the base of the servo, working your way up the driver. With the entire wire wrapped tightly on the shaft, use a heat gun (on medium heat setting), and apply heat evenly up and down the coil for 15-seconds. While still holding the coil in place, remove the heat gun and let the wire cool-off for a minute. After it has cooled-down, slide the coil off of the shaft, revealing something springy and beautiful!
Although the coil method is effective, it isn’t permanent. Coiled wires will need to be recoiled over time, so only use the coil method where wires are easily accessible; otherwise it will be a waste of time. Also, never hold the heat gun in place for too long, as you could potentially burn the wires or insulation.
The Heat Shrink Method
Heat shrink can be used to corral loose servo and power wires. Start by organizing the wires that need to be routed. Next, feed them through the heat shrink one by one, until they are in the desired position. If someone is nearby, have them hold one end of the wire bunch, and then hold the other end yourself, so that the wires are taut. Finally, finish-off by applying the heat gun and letting the heat shrink do its work. After it has cooled down, the wires should be held tightly in place.
It seems obvious, but I have made the mistake of soldering wires before I placed the heat shrink more times than I would like to admit. Also, when soldering wires, make sure to keep the heat shrink far away from the iron, or else you will shrink the heat shrink tube prematurely.
The Fuel Tubing Method
To add extra protection and insulation to speed control and battery power wires, they can be slid into silicon fuel tubing prior to soldering them to the motor, battery or connectors. Using a brand new piece of tubing, simply push the wires through the tubing. It helps to use a little bit of WD-40 on the wire before sliding it through, because the rubber-on-rubber contact gets pretty “grabby” without lubrication. If threading unusually thin or wide wires, try finding a larger or small gauge of tubing to begin with, to make installation easier.
Although it adds extra thermal and abrasive protection, enclosing wires in fuel tubing does not make them bullet-proof. If your newly protected wires are close to moving parts or heat, make sure to inspect them frequently to ensure that they aren’t being exposed to harmful elements. If you see wear on the fuel tubing, re-route the wires to prevent long-term damage to the wires.
Loose wires on an open chassis are a recipe for disaster, not to mention an unorganized mess. There are four good ways to ensure that loose wiring stays protected, keeps out of harm’s way, and looks neat and organized. Best of all, these methods are inexpensive and easy to master—unlike many other parts of RC—which makes them a total no-brainer.