HTC Vive Cable Management with Ceiling Suspension

One thing you immediately notice upon using VR is that the cable really breaks the immersion. It hangs behind your back and after a few turns you get tangled. Not a deal breaker, but definitely dampens the mood. There are various solutions to this problem. Perhaps most attractive is getting the TPCast and going wireless, but that has its own down sides: 1 – $250 for TPCast, 2 – camera and microphone are not supported, 3 – needs external software not integrated with steam or Vive. The other solution is cable management. I have been using a retractable cable management solution for a while and have a few tips for those just starting. Using these tips I have managed to reduce entanglement and twisting quite a bit.

I initially bought this product from Amazon (not an affiliate link, why bother?) and it formed the basis of my own solution. Though the material was good the instructions were missing all together. Since then I had to expand upon it a bit and thought my experience may be helpful to others.

First off, let me start by saying that the kit and the six retractable cable hooks it comes with are pretty good to start with. Those adhesive hooks really do stick to flat surfaces well (the guitar in the photos is hanging from two of those hooks), but you may need a hook screw for popcorn ceilings (also in the photos). The pull force of the retractables are a bit weak so the cable will hang quite low if you just rely on them.

One thing that contributes most to twisting of the cable and the ensuing entanglement is a low hanging cable. The higher the cable, the less the likelihood of you getting tangled in it. So most of the stuff I suggest here is about getting the cable to stay higher through out the play period. The rest is about optimal hook placement and cable routing.

Cable Height

First modification I would suggest is to use a bungee cord to attach the cable to the fixing point closest to the computer. That way the bungee cord will carry at least the initial weight so the retractables can pull the cable up further. I myself bought two higher weight capacity retractables. 4 lbs pull capacity is enough to keep the cable pretty close to the ceiling.

IMG_20171227_194626.jpg
These are the 4lbs retractables I got to carry the weight of the cable near the computer.

Second most important point is not to place the hooks and the retractables in a straight line. In the photo below you can see that I have distributed them in a square fashion. This way when you walk away and then back to the center, the retractables will gather the slack. Keeping the cable close to the ceiling through the play period.

IMG_20171227_194723.jpg
You can see the square layout of the hooks here.

Finally, to keep the cable as close to the ceiling as possible shorten the loops. The retractables came with a loop that is about 6cm long. In my use, I shortened this as much as possible. That way the cable remains even higher.

IMG_20171227_194751.jpg
You can see how short I set my loops, and the stopper.

Cable Routing

Note that each of the retractables stretch to a bit less than 2m (or 1m in the extras). This means, if you want to walk around in a large play area a single retractable may limit your range. Hence I attach two retractables together (for the hooks closer to the headset) to extend the range. This way you can even kneel on the corners of the play area.

IMG_20171227_194618.jpg
If you plan the retractable placement right you can move around the whole area without ever feeling the pull of the retractables.

I have been experimenting on placing a few stoppers along the cable so that certain retractables move along a limited range on the cable and not further. I am not sure if I like it. On the one hand, they definitely help keep the slack off. On the other, they prevent cable from twisting in the carabiner sometimes. I guess more experimentation and better planning is necessary. I used plastic bottle caps with holes through the middle (bad idea) and nerf gun bullets wrapped in electricians tape (better idea) for this purpose. I think I am at a point where they do more good than harm. Do let me know if you figure this out.

Miscellaneous Tips

If you have popcorn ceiling, use cheap hook screws. They are easy to install, and can be removed without leaving much trace.

 

One other thing is to possibly use an eye hole trigger snap to connect the cable. It may help a bit with the twisting. Problem is, that piece is too heavy for the retractables that came with the set. Plus most of the remaining problem stems from cables twisting around its own axis. This trigger snap can not help with that.

Conclusion

While I too believe future of VR is wireless, I don’t think TPCast is the solution. Until the second generation arrives, I think the cable management system outlined above is perfectly servicable.

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