USB Charging cables, we all have them. Likely, you have many of them just sitting around collecting dust. If you're like most, yours is either a white or black boring length of plastic and metal. Why settle for blah, when you could be winning with your very own paracord cable? This project is cheap and easy, and when you're done, you'll have your very own Paracord wrapped cable!
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Step 1: Supplies and Tools
Step 2: Prepare the Paracord
Prepare your paracord by comparing it to the length of your cable, add two inches and cut the cord. If you have a closed end you'll need to cut this. Once both ends are frayed you're ready to remove the threads inside the cord. To deglove your cord, grab a hold of the white threads with pliers and slide the whole thing out. Your paracord is now ready.
Step 3: Prepare the Charging Cable
To prepare the cable you will be doing something similar to what you did to the cord, only you will be keeping the insides. Start by cutting around the circumference at the end of the wire (near the head), and make a small slit parallel to the length of the cord. Grab hold of the head with one hand, and grab the black sheath you just cut. Now pull on the sheath like you're skinning a snake (nice image I just painted for you right). This will reveal a metallic casing. You'll need to remove this revealing a second metallic casing, remove this as well. All that should be left are four small wires (red, white, green, and black).
Now that the wires are exposed you need to cut and strip each one. This step is important so follow it carefully. I made the mistake of cutting my wires at the same place halfway down the length of the cable. This mistake cost me a lot of time. Make your cuts as close to one of the ends as possible and not all at the same point. Cut one wire near the head, cut the second half an inch down, the third half an inch down from the second, and the fourth half an inch from the third. This way you won't have one bulky point where everything is soldered and taped together. It took forever to pull my cord past it, so learn from me and do it like this. Once this is done strip the wires to prepare them for soldering.
FYI: The four cables identify their purpose in life. Red (+5V), black (ground), white (- data), green (+ data). Now you know!
Step 4: Bringing It Together
Now that the cable is cut and stripped you need to slide the paracord over the wires. To do this bend back the exposed metal wires so that they don't snag the cord. Then slide the cord over the wires. It shouldn't be too difficult to slide the cord at this point so if you hit a snag you may need to adjust.
Once the cord is on the four wires completely you will probably have a few inches left over. Pull the cord back so that you have room to work on the wires. The cord will bunch up on the end. You will need to keep it there so you can work on the wires; I found a twist tie works well for this.
Step 5: Tony Stark Your Wires Back Together
I can never solder without thinking about Iron Man; Tony Stark soldering circuits together that only a computer can do. This project doesn't call for such advanced soldering (it's actually pretty simple), and if your new to soldering you now have an excuse to learn! We're going to solder the wires back together. My advice is to work on one set at a time. First thing you want to do is to tin both wires, then solder them together by touching them to the iron tip. I didn't get a picture of this as I needed both of my hands and I don't have a Jarvis!
After all the wires are soldered together you will want to insulate them with a little electric tape. Make the wrap as tight as possible as to not hinder the cord from sliding by. In the pictures you will see my blunder of cutting all the wires and soldering them in one location. This made sliding the cord past this mess a bear.
Step 6: A Little Touch Up
Congratulations, you just made a paracord charging cable. FALSE! Plug it in and see if it works. If it works, then great! If not, well...you will now get firsthand experience in problem diagnosis and corrective action! Go crazy!
I'm willing to bet you have a frayed mess on the end of the cords. Marketing teams were created to make an engineers creation look nice (not really). We're going to do a little touch up to make your cord look as professional as possible. Welcome to marketing!
If you have excess cordage and it is bunched up on your cable then you'll need to get rid of some. Cut down the length of the cord with scissors until you have reached the correct length. Don't cut too much at once as you may go beyond the mark. Touch up any frayed ends with scissors as well. To keep the cord from fraying further you will need to heat the ends with a match or lighter. Just run it through the flame quickly to tighten up. You can do the same thing across the length of the cord if there are any frays from snags. If your cord is loose you may need a dab of glue on the ends to keep them in place. Now you're done, and not only does it function as designed, but it looks and feels a thousand times nicer than those plain cables you've been dealing with. Seth Godin would be proud (author, "Purple cow")!