Wire Spool Rack

February, 2016

Over my many years of tinkering, I’ve amassed a wide variety of wire to use in my electronic projects.  Various colours, guages, and styles of wire have been required, and I have a lot left over.  In order to keep them easily accessible and reasonably organized, I bought wire frame coat rack and attached it to the wall.  I had to bend the hooks to accept the wire spools, but it was functional.

Before - Wire Rack.jpg

I sometimes bumped the wire rack when reaching for the nearby light switch and spools would fall regularly.  Also, I could only keep small spools on this rack and I had other larger spools that I kept on a shelf.  I’ve been meaning to make myself a proper wire rack, so set out to do a mini-project to build one.

 

Design

I came up with a basic, triangular frame design to hold rods that the wire spools could be mounted on.  I needed it to be light weight, yet sturdy.  I needed to be able to easily add/remove spools, so wanted to make a latching system for one side of the rod and have the other side fixed.  I also needed to mount spools of various size ranging from 2″ to 7″ in diameter.

Design Sketch2.jpg

 

Parts

I had two 24″ Actobotic U channels left over from an earlier project and decided to use those as the foundation for the rack.  After drafting a quick design, I purchased the the other Actobotic parts I needed:

Parts List.JPG

ServoCity was kind enough to give me a 15% discount for sharing a previous project, so I saved a bit on the parts by applying that coupon code with my order.  I’m hoping to earn another discount by sharing this project so I can keep it going in the future.

 

Working with Carbon Fiber

For this project, I ultimately selected carbon fiber rods which ended up working very well.  I selected it over aluminum rods because they offered equivalent strength for lighter weight at about the same cost.  Also, I had trouble finding polished aluminum and thought the carbon fiber would look nicer.  I could have gone with wood, but was concerned about it being too soft.   This was my first time working with carbon fiber and I was a bit nervous since I’ve heard it can be hard (and dangerous) to work with.  However, I found a great video online which gave me the confidence to work with the materials.  I took the recommended precautions and followed the advice from the video and it turned out great.

 

Modifying the Actobotics

The only significant modification to the Actobotics parts was to cut slots into the 24″ U Channels to allow the rods to be placed in.  To do this, I modified a metal-cutting blade on my jig saw – I cut off the end it to make it shorter so it only cut through one side of the U Channel.  The blade cut through the aluminum easily and I had 5 notches on the inside of each U Channel to mount the tiers.

Assembly was quick and easy using 6-32 x 1/2″ screws.  I did have to bend the 90″ L channel brackets to get a triangle, but with the right amount of force, this was not too hard.  I also used an Irwin hole enlarging bit to allow the larger screws for then handle to fit.

 

Finished Product

The wire rack frame turned out great.  It weighs less than 10 pounds and functions as designed.

After - empty rack.jpg

A metal ruler mounted down the side is a convenient way to measure wire length for cutting, and the handle on top makes the rack mobile.

The rod unlatches easily so I can add/remove spools, and is fixed at the other end by the clamping collar.

Adding a spool.jpg

Collar prevents tier removal.jpg

 

Conclusions

I know I could have probably bought a wire rack for a fraction of the cost it took me to make this one, but this was a fun project and will serve me very well for many years.  I learned how to properly work with carbon fiber and look forward to using it in future projects.

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