For anyone unaware, when you go to a typical LAN party one of the things you need to bring along with your PC is an ethernet cable. The length of the cable depends on where your seat is and where the switch is located but most events just recommend bringing a 25-foot cable. Any cable will get the job done but you want to be able to spot it and you want to be able to pack it up quickly when the event is over. For me I use bring orange cables for both my wife and I so they stand out at the switch and then I just use Velcro cable wraps on the cable to keep it all bundled up. This gets the job done and helps maintain my cable, but it isn’t the fastest to pack up at the end. I do have to take my time winding it up to prevent damage and to make sure next LAN I don’t have a mess. Well a while back a good friend of ours Matt who you might know better as Vector from PDXLAN introduced me to Nick aka Vaelin who has been to PDX events from the beginning. Long story short, he has designed a solution to all of this in what he calls the LanReel. It is a 25-foot network cable that can quickly be spooled back up and packed away in your LANbag. He sent one over and I’ve been playing with it for a little while now, today I wanted to talk a little more about it and show everyone what it is all about.
Product Name: LanReel
Provided by: LanReel
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
Where can you get one: PDXLAN Forums
Photos, Features, and Performance
So what’s the LanReel all about? Basically, Vaelin has combined a slim Cat5e network cable with a 3d printed casing to allow you to wrap the cord back up quickly and easily. What surprised me though was that this actually takes up a lot less space than expected. My 25 foot of normal cord is much larger, being able to use the slim cord helps shrink things down, not to mention the reel keeps everything a lot tighter and taking up less space. So when I compare the LanReel to my normal cable bundle, even with the addition of the plastic it is an improvement. This makes packing it away a lot easier as well.
So being 3d printed, the casing does have some in perfections when compared to an injection molded product but as far as 3d printing goes this isn’t too bad. I did notice that the LanOC logo has a touch of black in it where the previous print most likely was black. The LanOC logo impression also showed up on the other side of the LanReel, I’m not sure if the still warm part was put on top of the other part with our logo or if the build surface transferred it. But they would be considered very small and not important defects at best.
If you have never 3d printed or had a 3d printed part you might also be concerned with the lined finish inside of the LanReal logo, LanOC logo, and the grip holes, that is just the finish a printer gives when you are printing an overhang compared to the smooshed surface from printing on to the heatbed. I personally think it gives a nice contrast to better see the logos.
So to get the cord you just have to pull on the one end and it will all start to come out of the spool. Loading it back up you stick your finger up against one of the three circles on the side near the black screws and you just reel it back it like a fishing reel. You can then hook that end up to the switch on your table so you only have to pull out what you need, this prevents a big mess of wires as well.
Then for the other end of the cable, they have wrapped up a small section into the center hole. You can pull this end out and hook it up to your PC. You get about 16 inches of cord and for most cases this should be enough to reach the rear I/O while sitting the LanReel on the table, if it doesn’t you can sit the LanReel on its edge and gain a few more inches or if needed you can use this end for the switch end of the cord.
When all wrapped up the cord pulls right back into the recessed hole. I was really liking this because it protects the plug when you aren’t using it.
So for testing, I didn’t end up making it out to any LAN events but I have been playing around with a small LAN space in our basement so I did get to test it out there, hooking it up to our Project Carmine build and pulling the cord down to the switch a few tables down. This setup is a lot simpler than what I currently use in my LAN bag. Because I keep my cable wrapped up in a specific way I spend a lot of time unwinding it so it doesn’t get twisted and only unwinding the length of cable I need so setup was much quicker. Cleanup was even easier as I don’t have to worry about getting it all wrapped up perfectly as well. Then on top of that, the cord and reel take up less space in my LANbag now. Given how important space is in that bag I can’t complain about that.