I want to welcome you to the first blog post on our newly rebuilt (from the ground up) website. In this space, we will feature special interest stories and first looks at the latest products by our writing staffs at TAS and hifi+. I will also periodically share some of the big picture items we are working on.
Which brings me to John Bring, the owner of Cable Support Plate. John and I met at an audio show back when those things were still happening. At the show I became fascinated by a cool new product he’d developed, and have since had the pleasure of trying it—with great success—in two different systems. That product is an easily installed outlet plate that helps properly lift up and support the heavy ac cables that many of us now use. Before sharing my observations, I got John on the phone and asked him a few basic questions about his business.
John, why audio and what’s your background?
Music has always been a part of my life, I started piano lessons at 3. That turned into playing piano and organ for community events. I also played several instruments in high school. When I went to college I continued to listen to music, but I did not like the sound of my stereo system, which eventually led to me building my first set of speakers.
In 1985, I went to California to join Lockheed as an aerospace engineer specializing in avionics and navigation. As part of my job, I worked on software for flight systems and was a member of the team that embedded GPS in the navigation systems of aircraft. That was probably the very first application of GPS. When we weren’t occupied with avionics, the folks I worked with spent their time arguing about the sound of cables and interconnects and the merits of digital versus analog. As a result, I started going to high-end dealers and audio shows, and got deeper into the hobby.
Why this product, John?
There is an awful lot of ground movement in my state of California. After one shake, I noticed the plug on my system was not fitting tightly in the wall. This got me looking at power cords at audio trade shows, and invariably the heavy power cords were not seated tightly in the outlets. If the cord came loose, it could cause real damage. The engineer in me felt this needed a solution. Changing outlets requires UL certification, which is expensive, but wall plates can be easily installed by the consumer. I started experimenting. The first plate I tried was made out of wood. Then I got my son-in-law to draw up the plate in a CAD program. Next I approached a local 3D-printing shop. They printed the very first plate and several initial iterations. Once we got that done, I felt I had a useful and saleable product.
John, how do you design and test them?
I soon realized that the best way to make my plates was to purchase a 3D printer and produce them at home. This allows for strict quality control. Two printers now run full-time, night and day, and print various models. Testing of the plates is done with a friend who is an electrician. We built a “to-code” wall, looked around and found all the heavy power cords we could, and then tried the plate with various outlets. Our first test is to hang things on the support cup to make sure it can handle over ten pounds. Our second test is to simulate tripping on the cord and use that data to adjust the thickness of the cup. We have learned to use a combination of two 3D materials: one is stiff and one has a bit of flex. We then quietly began selling some plates to friends. All the feedback has been very positive—the plugs stay tight in the outlets.
One note about quality and time to complete orders. Plates take 14–26 hours to print, so orders may take a while to fulfill. I print at four times the typical resolution that most 3D DIYers print at, but that leads to a better finish and a stronger, more uniform structure.
Because we delayed some of our launch, we also had an opportunity to use our printers to make headbands and heavy-duty facemasks for a local hospital during the COVID crisis.
So what’s my take?
I truly like this product because I use heavy-duty cables on my main audio system. These cables “drooping out” of regular outlets was a real issue for me (and I’m sure for many of you). The semi-circular support cups on John’s plate make a genuine difference. They simply work as advertised. Highest recommendation.
By Lee Scoggins
Lee started audio life making cassettes from records playing back on his dad’s Philips turntable. After a noble but unsuccessful attempt at being a trumpet player, Lee went on to work on hundreds of professional recordings.More articles from this editor
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