Introduction: DIY Earbud Repair

About: I like to build things that a common hacker wouldn't dare to build.

Hello everyone! Today, I'm going to show you how to repair earbuds with broken cables. This is simple to do, and only requires some soldering skills and a good eye.

What you will need:

  • earbuds with a broken cable
  • a second set of earbuds that you don't mind destroying (the ones I picked sounded awful), make sure the cable is okay
  • soldering iron
  • pliers and a small Flathead screwdriver
  • small battery and some jumper wires
  • glue
  • helping hand

For the second set of earbuds, I don't recommend using iPhone sets. The cable insulation and wiring can get a little tricky.

Step 1: Prepare the Buds for Operation

First, you have to clip the cord off of the donor buds. Strip off the insulation, being careful not to cut or fray the enameled wire inside. Don't worry about shaving off the enamel, it will burn off during soldering. You can discard the speaker parts, you don't need them anymore.

Next, you have to CAREFULLY remove the casing on the patient buds, using your pliers and screwdriver. Note down the colors of the wires and where they are attached to the speakers (ie, orange on left side of speaker, red on right side). Do not forget this, you will need it later. Desolder the wires from the speakers and discard them as well. You should have the speakers of the patient and the cable of the donor left.

Step 2: Take Some Notes

The cables I've seem from earbuds are color coded for there corresponding left/right channel. But unfortunately there is now standard to what those colors are. But all is not lost. I have devised a method to figure out this code. First, you have to solder one pair of wires to one of the speakers (polarity does not matter right now). Then, stick the speaker in your ear. Then, take a battery and touch the negative (-) side to the metal part closest to the plastic on the jack. Then, touch the positive side to one of the other two. Using the diagram above, take note of which pin causes the speaker to make a click (caution: it's loud), and then you have the channel of the pairs. Do not forget that, you will need it later. Now desolder the wires again. Next, you need to figure out the polarity. Remember the colors on the speakers I told you to note down last step? Now take a look at them, and you'll notice that both of the speakers (should) have a color in common. This is the ground wire. Now take a look at the cable you have. There should be a wire color in common for each pair. That is, you guessed it, the ground wire. Use the notes you took earlier to find the ground pad on the speakers. You will solder the ground wires to those pads.

Step 3: Finish the Operation

Now you get to perform the repair. First, take the left speaker (they should be labeled) and loop the left wire pair through the case cap. Tie a not near the hole so the wire doesn't pull loose. Then, solder the ground wire to the ground pad of the speaker. Then, solder the other wire to the other pad. Put the case back together and glue it shut. Do the same for the right speaker. That's it, you're done! Test them out with you're iPhone or MP3 player or whatever you can find. If you can't hear anything from either or both speakers, then check your soldering. I did this to my earbuds and they still sound great!

This is my second 'Ible, and please check out my work in progress, a Pentium III based Game Console. I could really use the support and advise from experts like you. Happy making!