Introduction: Retractable 1/8" Stereo Patch Cable

About: I'm a software guy who likes to tinker with hardware in my spare time. I'm not an expert at anything, but I'll try anything.
This cable's a lifesaver for recording to a laptop or connecting to a car stereo that has aux input. The only problem is that they normally retail at $20 and up. I decided to make my own cable from the most abundant and inexpensive retractable cables available, Dollar Store USB Cables. I found my source at "Dollar Tree" in Littleton, NH. They carry a cable by eCircuit Electronics.


eCircuit retractable USB Male-Male 30" cable - $1
2x 3.5mm male jack plugs - $3.99 @ RadioShack (ouch!)


soldering iron
wire strippers
helping hands

In total, the project cost me $4.99, but it could have been $2-$3 if it weren't for RS' inflated prices.

Step 1: Cut Usb Cable

Extend the cable and snip on each side of the spool, about 1-2" from each end.

Make sure the cable can't retract while working.

Leave enough on the ends to be able to reuse the connectors.

Step 2: Strip Wires

remove the outer rubber from about 1/2" on each end, and carefully separate the enameled wire by color; but, don't bother trying to strip it.

then slip the screw on sleeves over the wires.

I cut the strain relief to make the cable more compact.

Step 3: Solder

Twist the inner two sets of wires together (i.e. twist blue and green together) and solder the sets to the plugs (red to tip, bare to ring, blue/green to sleeve/ground)

the enamel should burn off under heat, but triple check your connections with a multimeter to be sure.

then, reassemble.

voila... $5 retractable patch cable
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