The headphone jack on the Apple IPhone has gotten a lot of bad press because it does not work with most standard headphones because it is recessed. That obvious annoyance has concealed another critical drawback to the headphone jack design - it is clearly a weak point in the IPhone's armor. Many generations of cellular phones have used simple rubber or plastic plugs to keep dirt, debris and water from getting into the headphone jacks. Apple, however, made no efforts whatsoever. If you look closely into the headphone jack when the IPhone's screen is active, I swear you can see the light and that makes me wonder how protected sensitive internal components are.
Immediately after its release, many reviewers were quick to test the Apple IPhone's durability. The results were impressive. Apple's first endeavor into the cellular phone market place was surprisingly tough. The sophisticated piece of equipment resisted scratches and impacts quite well. This super phone did seem to have a weakness - water.
I do not know if a single wayward raindrop tumbling from an overcast sky into the IPhone's headphone jack would be enough to turn the phone into a paperweight. I don't know what would happen if lint or dust from a person's pocket got into that little porthole of doom. I don't want to find out. I set out to create a plug to protect my precious IPhone with very basic supplies.
Some quick warnings - this instructable requires the uses of sharp pointy tools. The use of proper safety gear is recommended. Also, the IPhone's headphone jack was meant for use with the headphones that come with it and not my little plug. I've had no problems but that doesn't guarantee you won't. If you try this and somehow damage your phone in the process - you're the one to blame. The final product is very tiny...you're baby may eat it. If any harm comes to you, your phone, your baby or anything else don't come whining to me :)
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Step 1: Find a Doner 3.5mm Plug
The basis for the plug is a normal 3.5mm headphones connector. The easiest way to get one of these is from an old/cheap set of headphones. You can buy just a plug from radioshack but the construction is a little different. They often give away cheap headphones with stuff so I wouldn't think it would be hard to find.
Step 2: Dissect the 3.5mm Plug
You don't want a giant L Shaped plug hanging out of your sleek IPhone so you have to cut that away. You really just want a little more than the metal bit. I used a utility knife* to slice into the plastic - it doesn't put up much of a fight.
*Note: My knife is a tetanus waiting to happen. Feel free to use a knife that isn't crusty and broken.
Step 3: Liberate the Plug
Once you've cut open the plastic it peels back pretty easily. The metal bit you need is only connected to a couple strands of copper wire so it was easy enough to just rip out with my fingers. If you're having any trouble getting it out, I would avoid grabbing the metal of the plug with pliers because you'll probably mess it up. If you must, try grabbing the ugly black plastic/solder part on the back end of the plug to pop it out.
Step 4: Cut the Tail Off the Plug
The part you have now will fit nicely into the IPhone's recessed jack. There are two problems. First,the "tail" on the back of the plug is functional but hideous and will get snagged on your pockets. If you like ugly stuff, you can leave it alone. Otherwise, trim it down. You want to leave a little in place to add a nicer grip. I used a pair of side cutters to trim the tail but the options are limitless...strong scissors, bolt cutters, tin snips, a hacksaw - pretty much any cutting device you have handy.
Step 5: Snip the Tip
On to problem number 2 - since you have the entire 3.5mm connector, the IPhone will think you have headphones plugged in and nothing will play out of the speaker. That's totally unacceptable. If you cut off the tip, there won't be anything to touch the contacts inside the IPhone headphone jack.
I used a jeweler's saw to cut off the tip at the first black plastic insulating ring.
Jeweler's saws might not be all that common but there are other options. A hacksaw might work, a dremel cutoff disc, etc. You might even be able to use the side cutters again but I didn't want to risk bending the part I needed so I decided sawing was preferable to snipping.
I filed down the cut area to remove and burrs and smooth it out overall. I made sure to wipe it down really well so that no filings would end up in my phone.
Step 6: Finishing Your Plug
To finish off the plug, I covered the tail with a two part epoxy putty. The epoxy putty is great - it forms easily, hardens quickly, can be sanded and drilled and is pretty mess free. I made the grip about flush with the base of the plug. Keep in mind that the base of the plug pretty much fits perfectly into the recessed cavity of the IPhone's headphone jack. If you have putty hanging over the base, it won't fit well and you'll have to sand it down.
I would test fit the plug so you can sand if necessary. I would put the plug in for the first time with the IPhone upside down. If you have too much putty, some crumbs might sheer off and you don't want those falling into the phone.
I was going to paint the plug but it fit so tight that a layer of paint wouldn't last long - instead I just used a black permanent marker to color the plug.
Step 7: Finished Apple IPhone Headphone Plug
Here you have the finished product.
I don't know if this plug will actually protect your IPhone in any way or if the phone really needed protecting to begin with. In fact, it's even possible that this plug is bad for your phone in some way I haven't thought of but so far so good.
I don't use the headphone jack too often but if you do, you'll probably lose the plug pretty quickly since it is pretty tiny. It fits well in the phone though and I haven't had it fall out ever.
Now I can rest easy knowing my IPhone is safe from any sniper clouds trying to fire rain into my phone as well as from the garbage in my pockets.