Building a better woodshop #1: motorized ceiling cord reel: preliminary calculations

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Blog entry by Sodabowski posted 07-30-2012 02:14 AM 2014 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building a better woodshop series Part 2: motorized ceiling cord reel: early plan and BoM »

So after considering the possibilities, tinkering with the numbers, considering the (said) potential hazards and comparing the price tags and user experiences that several of you guys reported on the related forum post , I decided to go the usual way for me: if children in China can make it, I can make it too.

Bottomline: If Matthias Wandel didn’t do it already, I’ll do it before he even thinks about it! =p

First order of business was to code a little software to make all the math with a pretty user interface, sliders and realtime graphics. Yay, I’m a computer geek too, so what the heck. With the software, playing with the parameters is a piece of cake to avoid potential problems (stacking of the cable when rewinding, etc)

In fact, the same system can be used for air tubing, and after seeing the prices of commercial units, I can sure make it for cheaper. I can even make it out of aluminium. But wood is better for the ecosystem.

So for this project to be, the data will be as follows:

Ceiling-mounted motorized electric cord reel

- holds 25’ / 7 m of 3/4’ (000AWG) / 10 mm tri-conductor power cable
- overall diameter: about 10” / 25 cm
- overall height (including exit cone): around 8” / 20 cm
- motorized function with either an RF remote control or a pull cord
- optional lights
- outer shape can be made pyramidal or conical, or even hemispherical and heavily inlaid with… whatever
- easy and cheap materials (plywood, small lazy susan bearing, $10 geared motor, $10 power supply with plenty of leftover power for overhead LED lights, a few plastic rollers from any DYI store)
- no need for fancy tools: printer (for the gear templates), bandsaw and circle cutting jig (or 3D printer if you have access to one), drill and bits, screws and screwdriver, minimal ability to read wiring instructions, can accomodate a beer or two
- one-weekend project or less.

Stay tuned for the prototype plan!

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

4 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3338 days

#1 posted 07-30-2012 07:20 AM

Thomas great stuff,

the unit looks impressive and the way the cable

goes on the reel, makes more sense.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Schwieb's profile


1891 posts in 3943 days

#2 posted 07-30-2012 10:14 AM

Bring it on! You could change my mind on needing something like this.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Porchfish's profile


851 posts in 3014 days

#3 posted 07-30-2012 01:49 PM

I think the best things about you engineering your own ceiling mounted unit is that YOU are making it, and it will have been made in the USA !

-- The pig caught under the fence is always the one doing all the squealing !

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3315 days

#4 posted 07-30-2012 01:51 PM

(in France for me, which is even classier ;)

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

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