I learned how to do this a few months back at HardOCP, a site which I would be ashamed to read regularly.

If you've ever worked with the internals of computer hardware, specifically, drives, you know that ribbon cables are a big mess to deal with. All wide, and so little space for them. Well, there is a solution.

WARNING: This will not work with ATA66 cables, because their conductors are really thin and break easily.

Use your thumbnails to tear the conductors. This takes practice, but after awhile you'll get good at it. Put one thumb on one of the grooves between conductors, and put your other thumb in the same groove, on the other side of the cable. Push both thumbs into each other until the conductors split appart.

You should tear every 5 conductors until you have a bunch of 5-conductor strips. Stack these 5-conductor strips on top of each other and bind them together with electrical tape.

The benefits of this? Your cables are less wide and easier to manage, and your case temperature lowers because of better air flow (those wide cables really block a lot of air).
This also introduces crosstalk to the cable, as data wires that were separated by grounds are now right next to each other. This isn't a problem for mode 1-mode 4 drives, but it can interfere with UDMA 33. Definately do not do this to UDMA 66 or 100... Even if you don't rip the cable to buggery, the added crostalk will stop the cable from being able to run at 66... not to mention that 66 cables are thinner and get in the way less. I'd recommend splitting the cables into strips of even numbers of wires, to keep every conductor with its ground, and bundling the strips like this \/\/\, rather then this \\\\\, which should keep the data wires away from each other.

Another nice trick, if you have a master and a slave drive right on top of each other, with their connectors on opposite sides, or one drive mounted vertically, the other horizontally, it can be difficult to plug both devices in, as the cable doesn't bend very easily. If you split the cable into strips of 4 or 6 wires, but don't bother taping it will make the cable a lot more flexible along its parallel axis, hopefully allowing it to be plugged in. As a final solution, shredding the cable into pairs allows it to negitiate extreme bends.

Finally, 'round cables' can be cable-tied to the case to keep them out the way. Much neater than ribbon cables.
This is also known as "Rounding Cables", and I have heard of many cases in which ATA 66 cables have been rounded. And have seen speed tests showing no drop in speed. Though I'm sure this is not always the case.

When rounding ATA 66 cables, it is much more common to simply fold them over each other or roll them up, instead of separating the strands. Not only for preventing crosstalk, but also so as not to break the wires inside.

A few companies have caught on to this craze and sell specially made round IDE cables of all speeds. However, sometimes they make them longer to make up for the bunching up of the cables. Longer than 18 inches, and 18 inches is the maximum length for the IDE specification.

Personally, I round my own cables. A 40 strand ribbon cable costs me about $2, and pre-rounded cable about $20. I don't bother rounding 80 strand cables, I don't feel like taking risks.

I wrap all my rounded cables in green electrical tape. It matches the PCB nicely. Now if only I had a window...

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