Introduction: Converting Broken Beats Solo3 Headphones to Hearing Protection Wireless Headphones
Hello fellow tinkerers! Ever had something break but still work while being unusable? I hope that never happens to you. But what DO you do when something like that happens? Do you throw it away, get it repaired, or try to fix it yourself? When this happened to my headphones, I chose to give them a new home, inside over-ear hearing protection. This is how you do it. You will need:
- Broken Wireless Headphones (they don't have to be wireless, but it is nice)
- Hearing Protection of Your Choice (must be over-ear)
- Soldering Iron & Solder
- Small Screwdrivers (Phillips)
- Small Flathead Screwdriver (for prying)
- Heat Shrink Tubing
- Hot Glue Gun
- Rotary Tool
- Two Small Screws
- A Long-shafted Micro Push Button
- Double Sided Tape
Step 1: Inspiration
So, my Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones broke. This was really sad because they still worked, but I could not use them, so they were basically trash. I did not want to throw them away because they still worked, but I also did not want to repair them because repair would have been too expensive. Then I thought of this alternative.
Step 2: Taking Apart the Headphones Pt. 1
This step is probably the hardest step in the process. Taking apart $200 headphones with no hope of ever putting them back together the way they were is kind of unnerving. Alas, it is also the most important step in the process and must be done. The headphones I used were the Beats Solo3 Wireless. You start by prying off the ear pads. Once those are off, the speaker can be taken off through the removal of five screws. To completely remove the speaker, you must de-solder the wires connected to the speaker and the charging port. When everything is de-soldered, gently pull off the charging port from the speaker. To help the Charging port fit in the hearing protection, you will want to grind or pry off the nuts that are attached to it. The next step is to to remove the back cover with your small flat head screwdriver. Opening the back up reveals the battery and a daughter-board board (a secondary circuit board that connects to the motherboard). BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE, disconnect the battery cable from the daughter-board, slowly and CAREFULLY pry the battery out, and set aside in a safe place. DO NOT PUNCTURE THE BATTERY! Now that the battery is out we can continue.
Step 3: Taking Apart the Headphones Pt. 2
Now is time to take out the daughter-board. Gently disconnect the rest of the wire connectors and unscrew the board. Remove the back panel and unscrew the power button assembly. Next, gently pull up the wires that are glued down to the plastic enclosure. These wires are fragile and prone to snapping, so if you are worried about breaking them, you can use a flat headed screwdriver to help scrape them off. Now, we will want to remove the lower hinge part. Gently feed the wires through the hole on the hinge. Once that is done we need to remove the broken upper hinge part peel back the rubber headband strap where the wire is coming out and you should expose two screws (refer to the pictures). Remove those screws.
Step 4: Taking Apart the Headphones Pt. 3
You are almost through the disassembly! Taking apart the left side of the headphones is very similar to the right side. First, take off the ear pad and unscrew the speaker. On the back of the speaker enclosure, you will see the 3.5 mm jack. On the jacks lies all the connections we need to de-solder. De-solder the four connections to the left of the jack and the two far right connections on the right side of the jack. Once this is done, remove and set aside for later. You will also want to remove the 3.5 mm jack from the speaker. Now we can pry up the back panel (just like the right side) and expose the motherboard. Pull the wires that connect to the speaker through the hole in the enclosure. Disconnect the cables connected to the motherboard. Then you can unscrew the motherboard and put it aside for later. Instead of pulling the cables through the bottom hinge part, reveal the screws that hold the headband and top hing part in place and remove. Then you can remove the rubber headband. Underneath is a foam and plastic shell that covers the wire. Remove the shell and gently peel off the wire from the top of the headband. Now all you have left is the top wire and the left top hinge part. Gently pull the wire through the hinge part. Congratulations! You have finished the disassembly! Take a break, you deserve it.
Step 5: Preparing the Hearing Protection
Now we must prepare the new body for the headphones. The hearing protection I used was a 3M Professional Grade over ear hearing protection, but you don't have to use this type. Your local hardware store should have just what you need. To start, I took the cups off of the frame. Next I took the ear pads off of the cup and took the foam out of the cups. Finally, I labeled both the pads and cups with 'L' and 'R' for left and right so I would not mix them up later.
Step 6: Cutting
Reassemble the hearing protection cups and gather all the ports you have taken out of your headphones (3.5 mm jack, charging port). You will want to make an outline of where the ports will go on the hearing protection. In the pictures, you can see the outlines that I made. You will also need to mark where the top wire will come out of each ear cup.
Now to begin cutting. Disassemble the hearing protection and clamp down the cups. Using the rotary tool, carefully cut the plastic so that the ports and wire will fit. You will also need to cut the inside plastic of the ear pads. Make sure that all of the ports fit well and do not impede the re-assembly of the hearing protection.
For the power button, I used a long-shafted micro push button. What I did was take apart the push-button so that I could use the shaft. In the bottom of the right ear cup, I drilled a hole large enough so that the push button shaft could fit through it but not so large that is is very loose.
Step 7: Final Assembly
Begin with the hole that you drilled for the power button. With the shaft inserted in the hole, place the power button directly over it. Mark where the screws need to be inserted to hold the power button down and screw in one of the screws. Then, position the power button over the hole with the shaft and screw in the last screw so that the shaft, when pushed, pushes the power button. An optional step here is to cut the push shaft so that it doesn't stick out as far.
Take your top connecting wire and put some heat shrink tubing over it so that the bare wires are not exposed except on the ends. Re-solder all of the connections that you have previously de-soldered (charging port, 3.5mm jack, speakers.) Make sure that the the right boards are in the right cups, and reconnect the connectors to the boards. Next, you will want to glue in the ports in their respective places. I used hot glue because I knew that I would want to come back and modify the insides later. You do not have to use hot glue, but anything more permanent, and you will not be able to make modifications later, should that be needed.
Glue the boards and ports so that they are secure, and glue the connecting wire to the inside of the cups. Now that everything is secure, we can re-install the battery. Do this carefully, making sure not to puncture the battery. DO NOT USE HOT GLUE ON THE BATTERY! Instead, use a bit of double sided tape to secure the battery to the back of the cup. Place the speakers over the boards so that the edges of the speaker assembly touch the sides of the cups and they do not go down any further. Use a bit of glue to secure the speakers to the side wall. Place the foam you took out of the hearing protection earlier over the speakers, or use you own foam if you want to. Re-assemble the hearing protection. Charge and enjoy!
Step 8: What I Would Have Done Differently
As with any project, I ran into some difficulty in the process. The first mistake I made was cutting the right speaker plastic before I realized I could take the Hearing Protection apart to put everything in. I think that this might have caused the sound to become unbalanced and play louder in one ear, but I am not quite sure. Another thing that happened was the complete absence of bass. Not quite sure what happened. If anybody has any ideas on why there is no bass, please tell me in the comments. One thing I definitely would have done differently was take my time on cutting the holes for the ports. As you can see in the pictures, the cuts I made are kind of sloppy. One last thing is that the cord that goes over your head is just a tiny bit too short, but I didn't really have a way to lengthen it.
Step 9: Conclusion
All in all, I hope you have enjoyed this instructable and are inspired to make your own hearing protection headphones. If you do end up making your own, feel free to share yours and how you did it. Also, don't be afraid to modify and experiment with these instructions, they aren't set in stone. If you find a better way to do something, I would love to hear it! Anyways, thanks for reading. Good luck on making your own!
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