Introduction: How to Make Earbud Tips Stay On
Problem: I have a set of Bluetooth earbuds that I bought to use when I work out. They work fine, but sometimes the silicon tip would come off in my ear when I removed one of them. This is usually no big deal, just annoying. It became a big deal the other day when one came off and I didn't notice it until later. By that time, I had removed the earbud several times (it was giving me some pairing problems) and re-inserting it. This pushed the tip further and further into my ear canal without me realizing it. When I finally noticed that the tip had come off, I thought it had fallen by the road where I was walking at the time.
Later on, I noticed some pain in one of my ears. After a bit of speculation, I realized the tip must still be in my ear, but it was too far in by that time for me to easily extract it. Fortunately, my son was able to see it and carefully remove it with some tweezers. This saved me a trip to the doctor or hospital.
I decided at that point to figure out why the tips kept coming off and to find a way to keep them on better.
1. A brass or aluminum tube (or 2) that is about the same diameter as your earbud post where the tips fit on
2. Earbud tips with a tubular shaft that will fit over the earbud post
3. Some kind of tool that is conical-shaped to expand the end of the tube
Step 1: The Earbud and Tips
This instructable is going to be a general guide, because your earbuds and tips will almost certainly be different than mine. My earbuds have a post that is larger than most common earbuds, as far as I can tell. You can also see that there are many different kinds of tips that you can get for your earbuds. Usually, earbuds will come with a few sets of tips: large, medium, and small, to try to fit most ear canals. Mine came with the kind you see on the far left in the picture of the earbud tips above. The others are a few of the many earbud tips I have accumulated over the years and refused to toss out.
Step 2: The Tip Mounting Tool
I deduced that the reason my tips kept falling off was due to low friction. My tips were attached with a narrow ring that fit into a notch in the end of the earbud post. This did not offer enough friction to make a very secure attachment, especially after it got a bit slippery with oil from my skin and traces of ear wax (even though I clean my ears every day).
I noticed that some of my tips had a tubular shaft in them to mount on the post. This would certainly create a contact point with much more friction, as it was several mm long versus about 1 mm on the "stock" tips. The problem was that, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the tips to stretch over the posts on the earbuds. So I came up with a tool to create a gradient to slide them over. Kind of like a tubular ramp for the tips.
You can see the tool in the picture above. My tool consists of 2 brass tubes of slightly different diameters and a sleeve with a set screw that I had left over after tearing apart an old CD-ROM drive. The sleeve isn't really necessary, but at first it helped to provide better grip for sliding the tips over the tubes.
The way the tool works: I slide the smaller diameter tube into the hole in a tip (of course, I selected tubes that would be slightly larger than the diameter of the hole though the tip). Then I fit the first tube into the slightly larger tube (selected so one could slide into the other), and slide the tip along the first tube and onto the larger tube. The larger tube has one end expanded out so it is the same diameter as the earbud post. See how this works in the next step.
I expanded the end of the larger tube using a reaming tool I got from the hardware store. It just happened to be about the right size for the tip of the reaming tool to fit into the end of the larger tube. Then I just rotated the reamer in the tube until it started to expand a bit. I kept checking it on the earbud post until I got it to the same diameter as the post. You might be able to use something else to expand the end of the tube. I just happened to have the reamer lying around.
Step 3: Using the Tool
As you can see in the first image, I slid the tip onto the smaller tube. In the 2nd image, I have slid the smaller tube into the larger tube. In the 3rd image, I have removed the smaller tube. In the 4th image, you can see the larger tube fitted onto the earbud post. Notice how the lower end of the tube is the same diameter as the earbud post. At this point, I can slide the tip down onto the earbud post with very little trouble. Voila! Problem solved!
You may not need 2 tubes as I did. My earbuds, as I said, have larger than normal posts. Yours may be narrow enough for you to accomplish the same feat with just one tube.
Step 4: Final Result
This is the earbud with a very firmly-mounted tip. As you can see in the 2nd photo, the tubular shaft of the tip fits over the entire length of the earbud post. Not just the end of the post. This creates a lot more friction. I can still get it off without a lot of trouble, but it holds far better than the original tips.
I could have used different types of tips, like the foam ones, but I like these because they give me a decent seal in my ears and still allow the earbuds to fit into their case for recharging.
Thanks for looking at my instructable! I hope it was able to help you solve a problem of your own.