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Shielded ATX power cable looms - a simple server upgrade?


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Hi

Can anyone recommend shielded atx power cable looms based on their listening experience?

 

I can't readily find such products and wondered, if available, whether this might be a simple way of upgrading a server.

 

Cheers

David

 

Hi David

I doubt that you will find these other than perhaps from jPlay ? You could try wrapping around something like from the attached link. and solder an earthing wire to one end of the tape.

 

Kind Regards

Alex

 

copper tape | eBay

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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I did this with the server I just built, which has a EVGA SuperNOVA 650 P2 as a base PSU for now (manufactured by Leadex, maker of the Superflower ATX supplies, which have the lowest ripple specs in the industry right now, generally, if you are not using a linear PSU like myself). Anyway, I used two layers of high quality 3M copper tape (1181-1 copper foil tape) with a bare 16ga copper wire between the layers, which ran from near the end where the modular connectors plug in to a case-mounted copper ground bar I purchased from Storm Copper. Over that I put two layers of a EMI/RFI Shielding material and finally one layer of vinyl electrical tape to insulate.

 

Difficult to A/B since this server also had many other optimizations I did not have in my last (PPA V2 Card, PPA TCXO-modded mobo, etc.), but the server overall sounds markedly better than my last, which had very little in the way of hardware-based optimizations (some SOtM SATA filters and a ElFidelity capacitor bank PCI filter card, e.g.).

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Why not just use balanced connections and then you need not care about these tiny EMI/RFI issues.

 

I have wrapped XLR cables carrying analog signal directly around an ATX power supply 5 times. Stressed the power supply to maximize emissions and the balanced cable picked up nothing vs not being wrapped around the ATX PS and being several feet away.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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I used two layers of high quality 3M copper tape (1181-1 copper foil tape) with a bare 16ga copper wire between the layers, which ran from near the end where the modular connectors plug in to a case-mounted copper ground bar I purchased from Storm Copper. Over that I put two layers of a EMI/RFI Shielding material and finally one layer of vinyl electrical tape to insulate.

 

Hi,I don't suppose in the creation of your server you took any pics for posterity? Seems extraordinary that one has to go to these lengths (forgive the pun) (as opposed to buying pre-made shielded cables).

 

Why not just use balanced connections and then you need not care about these tiny EMI/RFI issues.

 

Dennis you have lost me. That would be my fault, not yours. I already have fully balanced xlr cables and gear from dac to power amp. I am talking about the atx loom of cables inside the server case. 24 pin atx to mobo, 8 pin eps, pci 8 pin, 4 pin sata cables. Are you saying these come in twisted pairs/balanced varieties? Or are you saying if you use balanced cables downstream it doesn't matter what happens upstream ?

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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Hi,I don't suppose in the creation of your server you took any pics for posterity? Seems extraordinary that one has to go to these lengths (forgive the pun) (as opposed to buying pre-made shielded cables).

 

For a business to produce them they would have to look neat and tidy and be available to buy and ship in a timely fashion, if you have looked at just sleeving cables rather than shielding and sleeving (to make them look neat and tidy) you will know what a time consuming task it can be particularly if you want to not see heat shrink on say a paracord sleeve.

 

Modular PSUs on the atx loom have varying pin outs and often have double wires or crossed wires and even capacitors on the atx loom to contend with (often removed by sleevers) and just producing sleeve kits for them which look neat takes some time and prices tend to reflect that if you purchase quality kits. Have a look around YouTube to see what is involved in sleeving atx cables.

Lots of people do sleeving from scratch to tidy up the often messy oem looms by buying insulated wire of the required gauge and the connectors. Some PSUs also have varying gauge wire in the same atx loom.

 

If you were to concentrate on dc converters like the HDPlex dc card, to produce a nice looking kit that would sell would still take some time to do, you also need to decide whether to use paracord or pet type sleeving or other type (some look terrible, some look amazing but prices reflect that) some types can be very expensive and then there's the cost of the shielding, what type, applying it and getting the sleeving to go over it etc.

Producing atx extension looms may be more feasible from a business angle but how much of a demand would there be for that and at what price point as it is still unlikely to be cheap if quality materials are used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi HiFidelit

 

if you have looked at just sleeving cables rather than shielding and sleeving (to make them look neat and tidy) you will know what a time consuming task it can be particularly if you want to not see heat shrink on say a paracord sleeve.

 

For me at least, as it is all internal the cosmesis is not that important.A minor bonus.

 

 

Have a look around YouTube to see what is involved in sleeving atx cables.

Lots of people do sleeving from scratch to tidy up the often messy oem looms by buying insulated wire of the required gauge and the connectors.

 

Presumably buying "insulated" cable that would serve as shielding. As you say though, a fairly tedious and time consuming DIY project.

 

It also requires some electronics expertise which I do not have.Do you connect both ends of the shield? Do you disconnect one end and "let in RF" but reduce ground loops.Do you ground to chassis and beyond? etc etc. I just figured someone else had done all the ground work (forgive another pun).

 

 

If you were to concentrate on dc converters like the HDPlex dc card, to produce a nice looking kit that would sell would still take some time to do,

 

I was thinking of more standard atx looms. I have the hdplex 300 w atx psu so all modular fittings from the psu, no dc-dc converter inside.

 

 

some types can be very expensive and then there's the cost of the shielding, what type, applying it and getting the sleeving to go over it etc.

 

Now when has being an audiophile ever been associated with spending money wisely? I might live to regret that statement,lol but hey, i dont get involved in "those" threads anymore ;-)

 

No seriously, I just thought I would pick up a shielded atx loom on ebay for maybe a few extra bucks.

 

 

Producing atx extension looms may be more feasible from a business angle but how much of a demand would there be for that and at what price point as it is still unlikely to be cheap if quality materials are used.

 

I figured it would not be a major market and sure, a bit more cost. It hasnt stopped JCAT, PPA,Pachanko etc producing shielded uber expensive SATA cables.

 

Anyway I can see that all of what you say makes great sense

 

Cheers

David

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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Hi,I don't suppose in the creation of your server you took any pics for posterity? Seems extraordinary that one has to go to these lengths (forgive the pun) (as opposed to buying pre-made shielded cables).

 

 

 

Dennis you have lost me. That would be my fault, not yours. I already have fully balanced xlr cables and gear from dac to power amp. I am talking about the atx loom of cables inside the server case. 24 pin atx to mobo, 8 pin eps, pci 8 pin, 4 pin sata cables. Are you saying these come in twisted pairs/balanced varieties? Or are you saying if you use balanced cables downstream it doesn't matter what happens upstream ?

The latter. If you already have balanced cables downstream, they are not going to be effected by any small leakage from inside the PC.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Hi,I don't suppose in the creation of your server you took any pics for posterity? Seems extraordinary that one has to go to these lengths (forgive the pun) (as opposed to buying pre-made shielded cables).

 

Unfortunately no, I didn't take any of the cables before or after I installed them. I would open it up and take some for you but it's tucked into an alcove in my desk and my case is much larger/more 'traditional' than the compact HTPC-style cases typically used around Computer Audio circles (I'm using a Fractal Design Define R4). In the not-too-distant future I will need to take it out to change the PPA V2 card's PCI Bracket to the one Paul provides to allow using an external PSU for the card (right now I'm using the ATX supply to power the 5V molex the card needs), as well as possibly to install some of his SATA cables (right now using some Silverstone CP07 shielded "SATA III" cables). When I do that I will try and remember to snap some shots.

 

What HiFidelit is saying makes sense, however. My experience is that the cables, after the shielding mod is complete, are very, very bulky and also very, very ugly. They're also extremely stiff, and had I not used as large of a case as I did, I sincerely doubt they would fit without flowing out of the case itself, so things would not be as tidy as usual. Given that I chose to make an attempt at using the Fractal Design case's cable management routing holes behind the motherboard tray, the back panel actually would not close when all of the cables were contorted into place, so it sits partially open as I type. Granted, I was working with what EVGA provided, which are large cables (with extra in line ripple-reducing capacitors, although those are relatively small and only at the providing end of the cable) containing multiple connectors branching off the main cable, which I had to bundle/tape together, as I chose to use one cable per application (one cable for OS drive, one for the music drive, one for the PPA card, etc.). One could easily buy shorter or less superfluous cables that would be compatible with an ATX supply, but I couldn't find any that included the extra in line ripple-reduction capacitors provided with the stock cables, so I dealt with the extra bulk.

 

That all being said, throughout this process I coudln't help but wonder the same question you're posing, which is why no Hi Fi companies have attempted ATX cables. Even sans shielding, one would think they would at least attempt some sort of OCC or OFC variant, but, like SATA cables, it seems that few are willing to test the waters of such a nascent area of computer audio. The closest I can think of are the silver ATX cables that Paul Pang provides, but they are not shielded. I did witness first hand how laborious of a process shielding the cables was, so I fully understand why so few have ventured to commercialize that aspect, however. It took me multiple days (and multiple papercut-like nicks from the copper shielding tape!) before I was done with the 5 cables I ended up wrapping. Don't even get me started on how long it took me to figure out how and where to mount the Storm Copper grounding bar (I'm not very mechanical by nature).

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. Even sans shielding, one would think they would at least attempt some sort of OCC or OFC variant

 

How hard would it be for an aftermarket supplier to at least make a cable using twisted pairs for each supply rail ?

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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In the not-too-distant future I will need to take it out to change the PPA V2 card's PCI Bracket to the one Paul provides to allow using an external PSU for the card ......When I do that I will try and remember to snap some shots.

 

Thanks internethandle.

Im sure you wouldnt make the same mistake but I recently ordered the PPA3 usb card with the dc-dc jack thingy on the I/O plate for external LPS. Unlike JCAT usb card my friend has with half height plate + dc jack , PPA came on a long pci I/O plate which will of course only fit in some cases horizontally, parallel to the mobo, therefore needing a riser card/cable. I could also mount it vertically with a short plate and run the dc lead through the back of the case. Oddly I couldnt easily find a half-height plate with dual usb port holes and dc jack. They exist as my friend has it, as I mentioned. In your case (literally), your case is bigger so maybe can accomodate a long I/O plate mounted vertically ?

 

I should mention Paul pang was very good about it. Despite it being my error he just immediately sent me a riser card!

 

My experience is that the cables, after the shielding mod is complete, are very, very bulky and also very, very ugly. They're also extremely stiff,

 

good to know thanks.

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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The following is a pin out repository of some of the more popular atx PSUs for people who want to make their own sleeved and/or shielded atx looms and maybe do what internethandle did:

 

Repository Of Power Supply Pin Outs.

 

The following 2 images show different techniques for sleeving.

The first image shows no heatshrink and the second is using heatshrink, (if you use certain types of sleeve (pet) then you still use heatshrink to create the heatsrinkless version with paracord you do not - see the faq below and watch the video).

 

83839c93_254500_288097707972211_69815079_n.jpeg

 

The following is useful information about the whole process of achieving the above.

Frequently Asked Sleeving Questions

 

I'll put this quote here for people who are short on time as it is useful:

 

What Is The Difference Between Modular, Semi-Modular, And Non-Modular?

In this section I hope to break down the basics for choosing a PSU to sleeve and the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

 

1. Fully Modular - A fully modular PSU is a PSU that has fully disconnecting cables. These are the number one choice for sleevers and modders as it makes cleaning up a computer easy and sleeving effective and easier.

 

Advantages: The advantages to this are clear - each cable can be removed and then sleeved and only the cables you want can be used. One thing to keep in mind is that the pinout (cable arrangement) is set by the PSU maker on the PSU side, what I mean by this is that all PSU makers use their own pin out on the end that plugs into the powersupply. For this reason cables cannot be switched from PSU to PSU unless it is the same PSU or PSU model family. (and sometimes even this is not true) Each PSU maker lists or will make available the pinout if asked or looked on their site. Also using a modular PSU gives you the ability to easily make custom length cables by making your own.

 

Disadvantages: You have an OEM pin out and most likely split wires that will need to be made into a Y split to get rid of double wires. Also you have two ends that will need to be cleaned up and sleeved perfect so attention to detail is a must.

 

2. Semi-Modular - A Semi-Modular PSU is a PSU that has a both hardwired and cables that can be removed. Typically the hardwired cables are the 24pin and an 8pin eps.

 

Advantages: The advantages to this are not having to clean up both ends of the cable for the 24pin and 8pin eps. It also still allows you to remove the cables you will not use.

 

Disadvantages: Losing your warranty due to the limited options on sleeving methods. Takes a bit more work to get a clean result.

 

3. Non-Modular - A Non-Modular PSU is a PSU that has hardwired cables.

 

Advantages: The advantages to this are not having to clean up both ends of the cable for the 24pin and 8pin eps.

 

Disadvantages: Losing your warranty due to the limited options on sleeving methods. Takes a bit more work to get a clean result. Hard to work with huge bundle of wires and hard to route and clean up.

 

There is only two ways to sleeve a Non-Modular and Semi-Modular PSU.

 

David, I'm not familiar with the 300w version of the HDPlex linear but I can see from the installation guide on their site some cable crossing so making a neat loom would be similar to some of the modular PSUs, maybe contact Larry at HDP and ask if he could help with creating a custom loom that is shielded and/or sleeved but note the comment about how stiff the loom could get and whether that would cause problems for you.

d3b871c6_155141_288091507972831_800910361_n.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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David, I'm not familiar with the 300w version of the HDPlex linear but I can see from the installation guide on their site some cable crossing so making a neat loom would be similar to some of the modular PSUs, maybe contact Larry at HDP and ask if he could help with creating a custom loom that is shielded and/or sleeved but note the comment about how stiff the loom could get and whether that would cause problems for you.

 

Thanks Hifidelit

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

I like your idea Audiophile Neuroscience. I too have the 300W HDPlex and it is very nice but the loom is not as nice as the one that came with the teradak for a number of reasons. I have messed around with computer cabling before and IME it's worth doing at least to reduce contact resistances. Because I'm crazy I'm looking at the new wire from Oyaide, but likely waste of money. Also other hard decision is regarding dielectric - PVC is not really bad in theory it might filter out some of the high frequency noise but would increase impedance.

 

My current thinking is to find some decent wire with relevant certifications and good crimped connectors, and individually sleeve the wires with braided shield, ground the shields to unused connector. One potential downside is risk of shorting if bare braided shields are inside the computer case. One could either add insulation or just leave the shield outside the case as umbillical section and leave inside unshielded. I am also thinking to get rid of the umbillical connection and just run cables straight out with a good strain relief inside the case to get rid of even more contacts and messing around with extra terminations making extra work.

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I have done further research. Upgrading high current DC wiring is not simple. Apparently there is potential for galvanic reaction between poorly chosen conductor metals and the tin plated molex crimp connectors. Silver is especially reactive with the tin plating, as is bare copper to a lesser degree. Tinned copper, as used in most industrial applications is good to use. If materials are used which have poor galvanic compatibility, the connection will deteriorate over time and become unreliable.

 

The further problem is that it is very difficult to produce a good quality crimp connection by hand. To meet the Molex specs tight tolerances in a range of criteria is needed, more than what can be controlled or verified by the average enthusiast working by hand.

 

The quality of crimping probably doesn't matter too much for lower power stuff, but if you are using tinned copper and standard molex connectors there is probably little to be gained by building DIY cables, apart from better shielding or perhaps twisting, which can be done with the stock cables which are professionally terminated.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I have done further research. Upgrading high current DC wiring is not simple. Apparently there is potential for galvanic reaction between poorly chosen conductor metals and the tin plated molex crimp connectors. Silver is especially reactive with the tin plating, as is bare copper to a lesser degree. Tinned copper, as used in most industrial applications is good to use. If materials are used which have poor galvanic compatibility, the connection will deteriorate over time and become unreliable.

 

Not all of the crimps are tin-plated, you can get gold-plated and others but they are more expensive than the tin-plated ones but I agree with you about possible mismatches. The gold plated ones are apparently better for people who disconnect and reconnect a lot of times.

 

The further problem is that it is very difficult to produce a good quality crimp connection by hand. To meet the Molex specs tight tolerances in a range of criteria is needed, more than what can be controlled or verified by the average enthusiast working by hand.

 

You can do good quality crimps but you do need a decent tool, the Molex ratchet one is over £200 typically although you can get it slightly cheaper:

63819-0900 MOLEX, Crimp Tool, Ratchet | Farnell element14

 

There are modified cheaper alternatives from MDPC and elsewhere that work well and there are other very good quality ones from Japan.

 

Quality crimping handbook:

http://www.molex.com/pdm_docs/ats/TM-638000029.pdf

 

Good crimps and how to recognise them:

Molex - Good Crimps

 

 

 

 

 

 

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