Intro: Braided Paracord Auxiliary Cable (Aux Cord)
Hey everyone! After the last few aux cables I bought broke from constant abuse in my car, I decided to make my own. I wanted to do something with paracord since I have a bunch of it lying around and I really like the nylon sleeved cables that you can buy. However, those cables can be a pretty penny and I also had an idea to braid the individual wires to create a very unique cable. I made this cable in about 4-5 hours, including a few hiccups, so it is a fun weekend project!
Step 1: Materials
You'll only need a few materials for this project, since it is fairly simple:
24 gauge speaker wire - Home Depot $8.97 for 100ft
Type 1 Paracord (aka 95 paracord) - Amazon $3.79 per 25ft x2
Clamps for securing the cable during braiding
Total Cost - $22.35
The actual cost per cable is probably closer to $12 since I bought a lot of extra wire and paracord. This way I'll have leftovers for other projects!
Step 2: Sleeving the Wires
To sleeve the wires with the paracord, first measure out how long you want the cable to be and cut three lengths of paracord. Make sure that you add a few extra inches to the paracord because it will shrink a bit when it is over the wire.
Next, strip about half and inch of insulation off end of the wire. You can just keep the wire on the spool, it's easier to manage that way.
Then pull out a little bit of the inner cord from the paracord and melt the end so it doesn't fray. Bend the stripped wire so it looks like a hook and tie a knot with the inner paracord strand. Twist the wire so that it wraps around itself and secures the paracord in place.
Now its time to start sleeving the wire! Take the untied end of the paracord and start by pulling a little bit of the inner strand out. This will make the outer sleeve bunch up, and you can push the bunch down the paracord between your fingertips. Once you get to the joint between the paracord and the wire, you should be able to push the outer sleeve over the wire fairly easily. Continue this until the whole wire is sleeved and repeat for each of the three wires.
Step 3: Soldering the First Connector
Now that we have all the cables sleeved and ready to go, it's time to solder on the first connector!
First, make sure you put the casing for the connector over the wires BEFORE you start soldering. You may still be able to thread the casing over the wires after the fact since the other sides of the cables are bare, but it will be a pain to do so, and plus it is good practice for the next connector.
Look up the pinout of your specific connector. For most 3 pole 3.5mm connectors, ground is the largest pad, attached to the casing of the connector. The left channel is the central soldering pad, and the right channel is the middle one. However, make sure that you have the right pinout for your connector.
Solder up the wires! I always thread the cables through the hole in the soldering pad and wrap them around the pad for some added strength to the connection.
Important! Make sure you don't touch the soldering iron to the paracord, it will instantly melt it and possibly ruin the look of the cable, so just be extra careful.
Since the paracord makes the cables a bit bulkier, it can be kinds difficult to secure them with the strain relief, but on this connector I managed to wedge them all in and they're very tightly secured.
Step 4: Braiding
Now we can start braiding! I opted for just a simple braid, but you make want to mess around with other braids and twists for a different look.
I started by clamping a piece of wood to my workbench, securing the cable with the connector in a vise grip, and then clamping the vise grip to the piece of wood.
I started by doing a really tight braid, but I didn't like the look so I undid it and did a much looser braid instead. To braid the wires basically put the outside wire over the inside one and then go to the other side and just repeat. If you need more of an explanation there are plenty of videos on how to do it.
Once you finish your braid and are satisfied with it, secure the end with out the connector so it doesn't come undone. Now we can add the second connector and finish this up!
Step 5: Solder the Second Connector
Now that we have the cable all braided, its time to finish this cable!
Make sure you put the piece of the connector that screws everything together on BEFORE you start soldering wires!
To solder on the second connector, make sure that you solder the same wires to the same terminals as on the first connector, ie. the ground wire to the ground terminal, right channel wire to the right channel terminal, etc. This is very important, because if you switch around the ground cable wire your cable won't work! Also, if the left and right channels are switched, stereo sound effects will be inverted. This isn't that big of a deal but it's just best to wire up everything correctly.
Once everything is soldered up, crimp the wires and screw together the connector, and you're all done!
Step 6: Final Product
Congrats! Now you have an awesome, one of a kind auxiliary cable to use however you like! Of course, this design doesn't just have to be used for an aux cord, it can be for any cable you desire, just switch out the connectors and add or subtract wires as necessary! Please leave a comment if you have any questions or make a similar cable yourself! Thanks for reading!