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Quick and dirty replacement of a small audio connector.
These things die prematurely on headphones and any other place they appear.

The audio cable on this cassette adaptor died in an obvious way right by the connector.

Replacement connectors exist, but they aren't very good. I prefer to add a chunk of wire that already has a right-angle connector on it as seen in the following steps.

Step 1: Amputate the Diseased Limb and the Donor Limb

Use a nail trimmer or whatever you've got handy.
Leave plenty of wire on the connector side of the donor cable and the appliance side of the sick cable.

Step 2: Zip Cable

Separate the two strands with your sharpened thumbnail, just like gutting a goanna lizard.

Step 3: Strip the Ends


This requires a light touch regardless of how you do it.
Bite through the outer insulation but not the inner conductors.
Pull off the outer insulation.

Step 4: Uh Oh

The donor cable has four conductors and the recipient cable has three.
Looks like we'll have to "ring out" the cables to figure out which conductors to connect.

"Ring Out" means a conductivity test to see what pin connects to where.
First we'll strip the amputated connector.
I skinned away the strain relief with a knife to expose these stubs of wire.

These wires are insulated with a very thin coating of lacquer.
I scrape it off the tips with a knife.

Step 5: Ring Out

Use your multimeter on conductivity beep setting, or whatever conductivity test you prefer.
Figure out what connector pin is attached to which colored wire.

In this case it turns out red, blue, and clear lacquered wires do the same things in both cables.

Step 6: Strip the Other Wires

I strip the tips of the wires on the other cables.

There are silky white fibers among the wires to make the cable stronger.
They'll melt and mess up your solder joints if you leave them hanging around.
Peel them out and cut them off.

Scrape the lacquer off the tips of all wires.

Step 7: Twist the Matching Wires Together

Twist the corresponding wires together.
It looks like they'll all short out, but the thin lacquer coating is a decent insulator.
They won't short except where you've scraped the lacquer off at the tips.

The donor cable has single conductors. That's a sign of low quality and they won't last very long, even though I scavenged them off a first-class seat on my way out of the airplane.

Multi-stranded cables are much less prone to fatigue and break. The finer the conductors the better.
It's very important that you didn't nick those single conductors when stripping the cable. If they are nicked they'll break. Don't fidget with them.

Step 8: Solder the Wires

Solder the corresponding wires together.
If you have some rosin-core solder and no soldering iron, a match or lighter will work just about as well.
But if you've got solder you'll probably have a soldering iron too.

Step 9: Insulate With Tape

I prefer transparent packing tape for electrical use.
After a few years it will dry out stop sticking so well, but it won't leave gunk all over like electrical tape will.

If I had some transparent shrinktube I might use that, but I think I like tape better for this fix.
It'll last longer than any other part of this project, and it's easy to see what's going on underneath it.

I folded a piece of it over the ends of the separated wires.

Step 10: Roll It Up

Roll it up and wrap another piece of tape on top of that.

Step 11: Wire Ties

For extra durability, tie the thing together with wire ties if you've got them.
String, sinew, rubberbands, or nothing at all will also work.

finished!

That was a lot of steps, but that's pretty much what you have to do to fix one of these things.
It's hard work keeping stuff out of landfills.

enjoy your music!
termofit used for these repairs
this is a terrible way to fix headphones heat shrink and good solders would hold up alot better and.... no sticky residue. good for quick fix but for a more reliable way use heat shrink
I've had a lot of luck burning the lacquer off with a match while fixing higher-end headphone cables for people.&nbsp; Just be ready to blow it out quickly.<br />
Thanks for the help......excellent info
A trick I came up with to keep the wire going straight is to fold the twisted wires in opposite directions along side the cable and to tape them individually, it generally results in a tapeball for more than 4 or 5 wires, but for 3 wires in this headphone trick I've done it a few times and I find it to be less invasive than a gigantic ball of tape that forms an angle in the middle of your cable.
one thing i do when my headphone jacks or cables die, i go to the dollar store, and buy a stereo 3.5 mm patch cable for my headphones that have all the wiring in one side. they come is 6 feet long. i cut off one end, i keep the cord pretty long (personal preference) and then solder directly to the drivers and get rid of the old cable. it looks a lot cleaner. i'm doing this today actually, so i might post an instructable.
Very good presentation. But what would you do if the wire break short at the connector, so it become impossible to strip the wire, since it's not there anymore ? I've tried to cut open the connector and hook up to the rest of the cable, but the result is only fair. Any suggestion to resolidified an open connector.
I had an entire headphone jack break off (as in just the metal part, it just kind of snapped off) so I was forced to find an old pair of headphones and use that jack soldered onto the old wire. I didn't use the old headphones instead or buy new ones because they were ink'd skullcandy earbuds and anyone who has them will tell you why I didn't want different ones.
Would it work for quick-n-dirty repairs (like on an airplane, where they don't like you to solder!) to do the exact same thing but just not solder it?
yes
great repair tutorial man+
Thank you, Tim. This looks like a lot of work!! I promise to enjoy it. Mo
Goanna lizard is redundant, it's just a goanna.
very cool! you solder really good

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Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of www.zcorp.com, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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