Want to talk to people through your computer but are sick of using those cheap headsets out there? Do you want that unique, styled, classic look in a USB phone? The standard Singapore-slung mic/line input knockoffs are so unsexy. Look no futher, this how-to guide will show you how to make a Western Electric 2600 headset telephone work with your computer using USB.
Step 1: Dismantle a headset
For this project we used a Logitech PS2 USB headset, available at finer retail stores or eBay. Logitech is very good about making universal drivers, so you can use this on a Mac or a PC in the end. Good to know, ey? Anyways, take it apart by removing the 'feet' of the square unit located on the cord. Use a philips screwdriver to remove the screws from it and take the unit apart with your hands. You will find the chip inside, and this is what we need from this. Cut off the two ends of the cords and ditch the rest of the headset, you won't need it for this project.
Step 2: De-solder all the wires
De-solder the attached wires from the board. We'll be using our own. For the soldering steps I highly recommend you use what's referred to as a 'third hand' - or some kind of clamp to hold it in place so your other two hands are given the freedom to do their soldering magic.
Step 3: Prep the USB cable
Ok so if you looked at all at the chip, you'd see that one cord went to the headset portion, and the other went to the usb end. We'll be preparing the new usb cord for use now. I recommend you get one that matches the color of your phone. So we got a black one. You cut off the 'B' end to it (the smaller, more squarish end), and then strip some of the end of the wire down to where you see four individual wires. Then you want to strip each of these wires so you maybe have a little less than an inch of actual wire showing. For each wire, individually make them as thin as possible by using your fingers to straighten them out and twist them just a bit to make them straight. Then begin the tinning process, which is where we prepare the wires for soldering in the next step. Take a bit of solder with one hand and the soldering iron with the other, and proceed to add solder around each wire individually by heating up the opposite side of the wire to where the solder is actually touching. See the video for a low-lit demonstration.
Step 4: Solder the USB cable on to the board
First, lets prep the phone for surgery. Take off the microphone end by unscrewing it, and remove everything in that end of the phone. there will be wires attached to the other end of the phone inside, so just cut them off for now. We'll use our own wires. Now this is important. Pull the cut end of the usb cord through the hole in the back of the phone so it comes out the microphone end. If you don't do this, you are going to have a hell of a time trying to get either the USB 'A' end or the board into the phone at the end. Just pull it all the way through and leave the handset part on the ground out of the way.
Now, take the cut end of the usb cord and the logitech board. You will now begin to solder on the wires onto the usb end. If you look closely, you will see that the board actually tells you where to put each wire. It goes from left to right, red, green, black, white. Push the wire through the hole and solder onto the board.
Step 5: Solder the microphone onto the board
Now you will solder the microphone onto the board. You want to generally try and shove the pins of the microphone through the board holes here - and use solder to make it stick there. Then take some speaker wire and solder it onto the connectors on the board (if you took it apart before you know where they will go now). Then wire the speaker wire through the phone, removing the speaker-end of the handset, take out the old wires that were there, and attach our new wires onto it.
Step 6: Test the mic
Using whatever software you want on mac or pc, test it out! Plug in the usb cable into your computer and start talking into it. If it reads and you can hear out of it, it works. Then what we did was cut a small corner off of the board so it could fit inside the handset. If you look at some of the images it's already been cut off. After that, fit it all back into the handset, add some cotton balls to the inside to prevent echoing, and you're all done!