Introduction: Ipod Mini Ghetto Headphone Repair

My ipod mini headphone socket had gotten so worn and loose that none of my cables fit snugly any more. This caused an annoying crackle if I dared even breathe near it and at its worst, would activate the pause action. Since I am too tight to pay for a replacement part, pne which would wear out in the same way anyway, I decided to ghetto fix it.

Since I use a ghetto headphone amp with my ipod, I only need a 3.5 mm jack to come out of my ipod and plug into the amp. If you want your headphones to plug straight into your ipod then you'll also need a female to female 3.5 mm stereo adapter.

WARNING! You are about to void your ipod's warranty. I accept no liability for damages caused in following this instructable.

Step 1: Requirements

1) One pair of cheap (preferable free) headphones to butcher.
2) One pair of broken headphones to steal the jack from.
3) Fine tipped soldering iron.
4) Thin, rosin cored electronics solder (optional).
5) A steady hand (mandatory).
6) Multimeter (optional).
7) Nail varnish (optional).
8) Small round file (optional).
9) 3.5mm female to female stereo adapter (optional).

Step 2: The Headphone Daughterboard

Now, this is not an instructable about how to disassemble the ipod so I assume you can do that yourself. Just be careful of the trackpad's ribbon cable and be gentle when you lift the headphone socket from the main board.

I used a multimeter to work out which solder joints were Ground, Left and Right connections. Using a set of permanent fineliners, I colour coded each of them so I would not forget which was which.

See the picture for the solder points to use.

Step 3: Headphone Butchery

Carefully open the headphones so you can get to the tiny speakers inside. It is very important not to damage or scrape the tiny wires inside.

This is because the very ends of the wires have already been "tinned" and soldered at the factory. Experience tells that trying to solder cut headphone wire of the cheap variety is difficult at best because it is not already "tinned" and shrugs off the solder, causing a bad connection. You can get around this by etching the varnish off the wire but it's easiest to use what has been provided here, and that is nice shiny soldered ends of the wires.

Use your soldering iron to melt the solder and lift the wires from the headphones. Don't worry about damaging the headphones themselves, it is only the wire that we want. The wire needs to be undamaged from the very tips to the headphone jack, so just be craeful not to burn it accidentally with the soldering iron.

Step 4: Solder, Solder.

Now, this is the hard part. Very very carefully, solder the appropriate wires to the solder points on the underside of the ipod's duff headphone jack. Aren't you glad those wires are tinned, now? You can use the optional rosin cored solder to add a bit of renewed shine to your wires or solder joints.

Be very careful not to slip and hit those ever so tiny components to the right with the hot soldering iron. If you do then it's probably game over - you'll need to buy a replacement headphone daughterboard after all.

Lastly, you must resist the temptation to remove the headphone jack from the daughterboard. This will become clear later on when you try to use your ghetto fixed ipod later.

The metal bracket that holds the daughterboard has a handy motch in it on this side, so knot the headphone cable and lay it, knot innermost, in this notch. I found it conveniet to knot the wire after soldering, so I could get the wire length right, but you might want to knot it first so that you do not put too much strain on the solder joints, which might possibly break them. You can always loosen and adjust the knot after soldering.

If you're as paranoid as me, you'll check continuity with a multimeter, and then when you are happy your soldering was perfect, give each of your solder jobs a dab of nail varnish to insulate them from anything they might rub against inside the ipod.

Step 5: Reassembly and Pumpin' Beats!

Reassemble your ipod, making sure not to put strain on your new wires, and keeping the knot inside the ipod. it should fit, unless you used very thick, high quality heaphone wires - in which case why were they free and why did you cut them up? If they're beefy then they probably don't need strain relief and you can undo the knot.

The plastic top that holds the "hold" switch can either be left off, for the complete ghetto look, or you can use a small round file to carve a corresponding notch into it.

Now, if you plug this into anything and try playing any tunes, you mightl notice a very odd echo effect, buzzing, bad bass response, or most probably silence. This is because the ipod has damn annoying circuitry that detects when a cable is plugged in the socket. This is why my ghetto fix requires the headphone socket to be left in situ and also a pair of broken headphones. If it's not broken off already like mine was, snip the jack off of the donor broken headphones and insert it into the headphone socket of your ipod. Now it thinks there's a pair of headphones plugged in, it will play your tunes properly.

Plug it into a decent amp, turn up the volume and hit play!

Comments

author
Max Headroom (author)2010-04-02

I don't get it. Buy a cheap jack-to-jack cable,and spare time and the possibilities to destroy the sound panel too.

author

Hi Max Head Room

Have you read the "intro" page? It explains why a cheap jack to jack cable was not working.

Thanks for commenting,

Regards,
Ctrl-Alt-Ninja

author

Okay, sorry, I get it now. But this is really ghetto indeed

author
bigredxyz (author)2008-12-08

instead of using the broken cable in the jack, could you not have bypassed the circuitry by seeing what contacts were made when the cable was in and then hard wired it? i just ask cause you had it opened anyway unless you really like the ghetto look. either way, great idea and 'ible!

author
CtrlAltNinja (author)bigredxyz2008-12-08

Thanks for the feedback bigredxyz. I wanted to go with the quickest and most ghetto solution (and I had plenty of broken cables). Maybe if it starts pausing again I will have to try and find out how it works and bypass it.

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