Intro: Retractable 1/8" Stereo Patch Cable
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!)
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.
voila... $5 retractable patch cable