Introduction: Papermate Boom for Bluetooth Headset

Picture of Papermate Boom for Bluetooth Headset

In a noisy environment, (such as a bicycle or an old car on the highway) bluetooth headsets do not work well. Why? Because the microphone is so far away from your mouth that it would just as soon pick up the road or wind noise as your voice. No amount of "advanced voice technology" can get around that simple truth. Since I ride my bike to work, drive a 1971 Volkswagen Squareback and a 1983 Toyota pickup, road and wind noise is a problem for me. I also like to keep both hands available for driving/biking tasks instead of holding a phone against my head. I haven't seen any bluetooth headsets with a boom for several years now. It seems manufacturers are trying to keep them small. That is fine in a quiet environment. (a late model Lexus, maybe?) I don't have that luxury, so I decided to add a boom to my headset.

Step 1: Bust It. (or, How Badly Do You Want Better Sound?)

Picture of Bust It.  (or, How Badly Do You Want Better Sound?)

This is the part where you take your $30-$150 headset and break it. If you spent an amount closer to the $150 side than the $30 side, you should skip this and buy a Lexus. I have been using this headset for over 2 years now, and was ready for it to be better and uglier, so it was an easy choice for me. I have been taking apart small electronics ever since I could turn a screwdriver. That didn't help me here. I can't speak for any other headsets, but mine had no screws at all. The two halves were glued together with a plastic welding glue. I just had to shove a screwdriver in there and bust it apart. Not pretty. When wedging your small screwdriver in there, be careful not to pry too hard against anything inside. I managed to get mine apart without damaging the batteries or circuit board, but the casing was pretty well destroyed. If I had it to do over again, maybe I'd be able to do it cleaner.

Step 2: Cut the Boom

Picture of Cut the Boom

I used a Papermate pen tube for the microphone boom. Any small tube would work. The Papermate may not be the best solution, as I haven't found a glue yet that effectively sticks to it. Bic pens seem to have a softer plastic that may work better for the glue, but they are a straight cylinder, and are usually white. The aesthetics of that may or may not be desirable. After cutting the tube to your desired length, (based on the size of your face, or preference) make a hole for the microphone to sit in. I used a side-cutting bit on my dremel to carve it out. That was a little difficult to control. Perhaps a small round file would do the trick, or even just a pocket knife.

Step 3: Shape the Boom Recepticle

Picture of Shape the Boom Recepticle

Next we need to make a place to put the boom in the headset housing. For this I again used the side-cutting tool in my Dremel. Carve a half circle out of the top, and a half circle out of the bottom. In order to angle the boom towards your mouth, hold the dremel at the angle you want the boom to go while cutting.

Step 4: Add Microphone Wires

Picture of Add Microphone Wires

Unsolder the microphone wires from the circuit board. Take note of which color wire went into which spot on the circuit board. Cut some wire to the correct length to extend the original microphone wires long enough to reach the end of the boom. Solder the extension wires to the original microphone wires. Cover the solder point with heat-shrink tubing or electrical tape. Twist the wires if you choose.

Step 5: Thread Wires and Solder

Picture of Thread Wires and Solder

Stick the long wires that you soldered onto the microphone into the hole you made for the microphone at the end of the boom. Thread them out the end of the boom that goes into the headset. Route the wires as similarly as you can to the route the original microphone wires took. This should avoid obstructions when reassembling the headset. Solder the extension wires to the original microphone wire's locations on the circuit board. Try to maintain the original polarity, though I'm not sure how much that really matters. A passive microphone should "microphone-ify" (generate electrical impulses that represent the pattern of sound vibrations) in either direction.

Step 6: Start Gluing

Picture of Start Gluing

Adhere the boom to one half of the headset. I used super-glue ( cyanoacrylate ) first. It didn't stick to the Papermate pen tube. Then I tried hot-glue. It also faired poorly with the pen tube. In the end I used plastic epoxy. It still didn't stick to the pen tube, but is more rigid when cured, so formed a sort of ferule around the boom to add stability. When gluing the two halves of the headset back together, make sure any electrical contacts between the halves are unobstructed. Note where the earphone contacts are on my circuit board. I had some trouble keeping the microphone extension wires out of the way. To hold the microphone in the hole at the end of the boom, fill the hole with hot glue and position the microphone facing towards where your mouth will be when using the headset.

Step 7: Finished, and Thoughts.

Picture of Finished, and Thoughts.

Once it is all glued together, allow all the glue to cure. The boom will be very sensitive to breakage at the headset. Especially so if you used a Papermate pen as I did. If I were to do this project over again, I would select a different material for the boom. Perhaps a Bic pen tube or some other type of plastic to which glue more readily adheres. Despite the fragility of the boom, I am very glad that I added it. It has made a world of difference in the functionality of the headset. Before when I was driving my truck any faster than 25 mph I had to shout to be heard. When I received a phone call on my bicycle, I had to give up trying to continue riding, or just not answer the phone. (wouldn't that be a tragedy?) Now people have no trouble at all hearing me in the truck. Today when my wife called me, she didn't even know I was riding my bike, except that I was breathing rather heavier than normal. The effectiveness of the boom has well proven itself to me. Also, I would like to see more headsets be this large. It discourages leaving it on your face when not in use, as it looks rather silly. (normal bluetooth headsets look rather silly sitting on a person's ear when not in use, but this one does so in a bigger manner) Also, the act of pulling out and attaching this large headset should lead to less frequent interactions in the grocery store inadvertently engaging the entire line in conversation.

Comments

useru (author)2013-03-16

Two ideas to bond the plastic (but I have tried neither for this specific application. 1) they now make an epoxy for bonding plastic, 2) I have used a silicone rubber intended for car water pump gaskets (automotive parts store) on plastic and it is still stuck. Photo=awesome.

BudBump (author)2012-07-01

Why not use a simple cutting wheel? The kit is reasonably priced and will eliminate a brutal effect with thumbs and screwdrivers. Personally, I can't do a job without cleaning as I go and carefully planning the best approach.

qubic (author)2010-09-30

Perhaps roughing up the end of the pen tube would make the glue work better, using coarse sandpaper or something.

xerxesx20 (author)2009-09-03

Cutting some very shallow (NOT all the way through) but wideish notches with a knife, or better yet a hand held section of hacksaw blade gives the chosen glue somewhere to go even if it's shite glue. Not only this but it's "keyed" nicely so that will add chances of sticking both materials. Also works much of the time with soldering something that won't wet properly, no substitute for good flux, but a quick and dirty shortcut.

Colerunn (author)2009-01-29

I'm doing it with a cheap Jabra (The same one as used in the iPhone gift card one) and a bendy-straw. Makes it easier to move to where you need it. lol

Colerunn (author)Colerunn2009-01-29

I just finished it. I destroyed the microphone that was originally in the Jabra, but my little brother had some old wired headsets I tole one from. Works like a charm. I used an industrial epoxy left over from an old family buisness to hold the straw. It's called Araldite. Nifty stuff. Kudos though on your first instructable. I just hope that when the day comes that I post my own first, it will be just as good :)

CobyHoff (author)Colerunn2009-01-30

That's fantastic. If you can take a picture, I'd love to see it.

ps3king1 (author)2008-10-17

ok just a question how would you do this if your headset as a mic bulit on the bored

CobyHoff (author)ps3king12008-10-18

If it has leads that poke through the board to the other side, it is a simple matter of unsoldering and resoldering with wires. If it is a surface-mount microphone (most likely), you will need a very fine tipped soldering iron, and probably some experience doing that type of work. I've not tried my hand at unsoldering surface-mount components yet, but I have watched it done. It's not impossible, there is just a high likelihood of damaging the board, surrounding components, or the component you are pulling off.

ps3king1 (author)CobyHoff2008-10-18

thank you

hck1 (author)2008-10-17

Really well done! Now it can be used for voice input on the netbook with 'Dragon Naturally Speaking'! Just talk into this and the EEE just types everything 100% without typing flaws (although it may sometimes write completely wrong words...). AND it's much faster than typing. I tried a detachable 10 cm piece of aquarium hose, but it made the headset too heavy. So it slid off the ear. An idea: There are 3,5mm connectors for normal stereo headsets with built in switches - if you pull the connector out it switches to normal microphone.

TheScientist (author)2008-10-15

if you lightly sand the egdes where you want to glue it may help with adherance of the glue. it probably wasn't sticking because the surface is just too slippery for it to grip on. a rubber cement may have worked too(?)

CobyHoff (author)TheScientist2008-10-16

After the cyanoacrylate failed the first time, I did file the edges to roughen it up. When that still didn't hold, I used my pocket knife to put notches in the base of the pen tube. The notches are angled inward to help resist pullout. That with the epoxy has kept the tube from falling out, but I can still see where it has pulled away from the epoxy on the edges.

Just let me know next time. I've got a plastic welding kit from Harbor Freight that I've been needing a good excuse to play with. :-)

if it ever starts slipping out you could try it and see what happens :)

spinalator (author)2008-10-17

Ferule is a great word. i will attempt to use it in conversation. Great instructable. I think the dremel may be more effective with different bits, I have the set of 4 billion bits and seem to try 5 different cutters before one does the trick.

CobyHoff (author)spinalator2008-10-17

Yeah, I only have 2 side-cutting bits. They are the coolest thing since cut-off wheels. Or maybe buffing wheels. Whatever. Dremels are awesome.

killerjackalope (author)2008-10-15

Nice job, granted I assumed the title meant a paper boom for the headset which perplexed me to an unreasonable extent... After that I read it and agree with the whole mini bluetooth issue, one thing that'd hold the pen in better is a few holes through it, then epoxy or even hot glue should get some grip on them, sanding could help aswell but I'd have just screwed it to the original case and continued transmogrifying the beast until it encompassed most of my belongings, fridge included - A lesson in life, you know you have issues when the glue gun heating up means your belongings will once again become a horrifying mash up of everything you got your hands on before the glue ran out. I do think that metal spikes on the topside of the unit body would vastly improve both it's looks and combat effectiveness.

CobyHoff (author)killerjackalope2008-10-16

You are correct. In a combat situation I would find myself grossly un-metal-spiked. That could mean the difference between victory and defeat!

killerjackalope (author)CobyHoff2008-10-17

A small artillery or siege cannon could be helpful for longer range combat but it depends on the phones ordinance capacities aswell, if they're adequate then spikes should do...

Featured and Rated aswell!

CobyHoff (author)killerjackalope2008-10-16

Wow. Featured on my very first instructable. I'm flattered.

killerjackalope (author)CobyHoff2008-10-17

Well deserving in my opinion...

jc817 (author)2008-10-15

I had the same problem driving my 2002 hyundai, so I soundproofed everything. Much bigger project though lol yours works just as well I'm sure.

CobyHoff (author)jc8172008-10-17

Soundproofing an inexpensive car is certainly a noble project, though. Although, that wouldn't have helped the bike riding very much. Perhaps a full fairing, though... (warning. This post has exceeded the allowed limit of the word "though".)

przemek (author)2008-10-16

You may get away without cracking the headset open and relocating the microphone. Just glue a 2-4mm diameter tube with one end over the mic opening, and the other positioned near the corner of your mouth. That is how the NASA space program headsets work:
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station/crew-13/hires/jsc2006e38928.jpg

CobyHoff (author)przemek2008-10-17

Yeah, I have a "sound tube" headset at work. The microphone stays up by the earpiece and a hollow plastic tube reaches down to the mouth. That would certainly be a lot less of a commitment than breaking apart an expensive headset.

ghaom (author)2008-10-16

You can also use 1/4 inch drip irrigation tuubing. It worked great on the boom mike I reengineered.

CobyHoff (author)ghaom2008-10-17

That's a good idea!

The Urban Spaceman (author)2008-10-15

This would be badass if it double as a pen.

Thats seems to be very convenient because you would always have a pen when you needed to take down a phone # if someone is telling it to you over the phone... the only problem is the you can't listen to them and write at the same time w/o going it to some seriously crazy positions.

drips (author)cprocjr2008-10-16

If you installed a 3/32 mini plug and jack (or similar) on the pen and earpiece respectively you could remove the pen and eliminate the gluing issue to boot. It would be a tight squeeze for the wires and you'd want a long-lasting pen but it could work I think. What happens to a bluetooth unit when the mic connection is broken?

CobyHoff (author)drips2008-10-17

Nothing, other than that people can't hear you anymore. The Bluetooth stuff wouldn't really care. It would just suppose you were being very quiet. That is, if we were to transfer human thoughts and emotions onto it.

cprocjr (author)cprocjr2008-10-15

Oh and nice Instructable, I have always wondered why those things didn't come down to the mouth.

srhadaham (author)2008-10-16

you would think that the designer of the headset would be smart enough to figure this out in the first place. but this is a great fix to a bad problem

Keeter (author)2008-10-16

Nice work for your first go! But I agree, it is very lacking in the protruding metal department. Give the whole thing a kickass flamed paintjob, and you are good to go!

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