Saturday, January 12, 2013

Problem Solving: Thread a 1/2 in. tube

Problem solving is an art. Here's a problem I recently faced outside of the software engineering space, but I felt it was worth posting here.

The problem: Running copper wire through 90 meters of 1/2 tubing

Background: I decided it was time to extend my electricity line to a structure about 60 meters from the source. With 120 meters of copper wire in hand I set off on the challenge. To protect from weather, I wanted to make sure the wire is insulated in a plastic tube. It became apparent rather quickly that the cable wasn't going to walk itself through the tube.

The solution: +1 to my neighbor who happened to be walking by and gave the suggestion that ultimately did the trick.

Materials:
100 meters of fishing line
Small piece of foam that with a little squeezing will fit in the 1/2 in tube
100 meters of all purpose twine
Water source (hose will work)
Sharp piercing object that will pierce tube

  1. Start off by unraveling the tubing
  2. With your piercing object, make a small hole about 2 inches from the high end of the tube. My hole was small enough to pass the fishing line through, but small enough that a pencil wouldn't enter
  3. Put the tip of the fishing line through this hole and pull it out the closest end of the tube
  4. Tie off the sponge
  5. Push the sponge towards the low and end apply water source
  6. Watch the fishing line get pulled into the tube with the sponge fighting the force of the water
  7. Your sponge will eventually come our of the other end of the tube and you can tie off the fishing line the the all purpose twine and feed the twine through the tube by pulling on the fishing line that the water fed down the line. I had to run the twine because my fishing line was pretty light weight and probably would snap if the copper wires were tied off to the line
  8. With the twine capable of resisting more force, tie it off of the copper cables and pull the suckers through.

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A     .                            B
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