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post #1 of 16 Old 09-27-2013, 08:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Even though this is DIY, I thought it would be more applicable in this forum, as in theory et al...

Hello All, I have a set of over-the- ear earphones that I have been using daily for about three years. It is the JVC HA-RX300, and I got it cheap.

A few weeks ago, the wires became loose at the jack end and the signal became inconsistent.

Now, since they were cheap, and the fact that I am comfortable wearing them for 5+ hrs a day, I decided to try to fix them instead of just buying a new set of cans.

I went to Radio Shak and got a 1/8”(3.5mm) TRS Jack. I wanted a solderless one, and the rep gave me a screw on jack. Unfortunately, the wires still need to soldered and I do not own a soldering iron. So, as a temporary solution, I rigged up the headphones wires by wrapping them around the connectors and using electrical tape to hold in place.

This worked temporarily, however, if I move the wire too much some of the signal drops out. So I borrowed a soldering Iron form a co-worker, and plan on soldering the wires this weekend.

I have read up on soldering and think this is a good starting point; however, I have some questions.

I know that I need to clean the tip, and ‘tin’ it. I understand the basics of soldering circuit boards. However, how do I solder the copper headphone wires to the silver (steel,nickel?) TRS jack? The three headphone wires are the basic red, green, copper(-,+,ground).

1)Do I need to remove the colouring on the wires(if I burn them the colour comes off and the ends fray)

2)Do I need to tin the wire tips?

3)How do I get the most secure connection to the TRS Jack? Wrap the wire around, tie a knot with the wire through the hole, etc…?

Also, since I am only borrowing the soldering iron, I do plan on buying one. What should I be looking for, i.e. watts, iron vs gun, temperature reading, etc…?

Any and all help is appreciated.

By the by, I found these steps on the Internets, seems like good advice, but I am not sure I understand step #8. (http://www.ehow.com/how_7670935_make-headphone-cable.html)
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-27-2013, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by underminded999 View Post

1)Do I need to remove the colouring on the wires

Yes.

Quote:
2)Do I need to tin the wire tips?

Yes.

Quote:
3)How do I get the most secure connection to the TRS Jack? Wrap the wire around, tie a knot with the wire through the hole, etc…?

Push the tinned lead through the hole and wrap it securely using a needle nose pliers.

Quote:
What should I be looking for, i.e. watts, iron vs gun, temperature reading, etc…?

A 25-40 watts iron (not a gun!) is good for small stuff. Better irons have changeable tips with different temperatures. But that type costs more.

This video from my Audio Expert book explains the basics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llC-UXooBmk

--Ethan

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post #3 of 16 Old 09-27-2013, 12:39 PM
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Unfortunately most inexpensive headphones today use a very thing copper foil wrapped around a very small cotton thread. the conductors are dipped in a liquid insulation varnish that is difficult to remove or get a good solder bond to adhere. One major point. Rad Shack and most other import houses use really cheap quality metals for their connectors and these metal alloys do not take solder easily or quickly. You best bet( and it will still be a crap shoot) is to heat and tin the connector contacts FIRST quickly so the insulation in the connector does not melt and loosen up. This is tricky to do for inexperienced hands. Once you get a tiny bit of solder to adhere to the contacts in a shiny, smooth pad, let the connector completely cool. Then after carefully scraping the headphone conductors free of the insulation varnish so you can see bare shiny copper, tin the conductor and then while holding the conductor against the already tinned connector conductor , apply some heat from the iron. Just enough to soften the solder and meld the wire and connector together. This very tricky to do and may be a less than solid connection. It may require a few attempts.

Good luck.
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-29-2013, 12:06 PM
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Check my signature for a comprehensive illustrated guide for soldering audio cables/connectors, including tips on good soldering irons to buy. Post #11 explains why it’s not a good idea to pull and wrap untinned wires through the connector’s holes.

That said, with a 3.5 mm plug you’re embarking on one of the more difficult connectors for your “maiden voyage.” I’m an experienced cable maker, and I really don’t like those things. They are tiny, and with most of them there’s no “wriggle room” under the barrel – tight quarters all the way. I’d recommend ditching the cheap Radio Shack connector and ordering a Canare F-12 from Markertek. It’s the only 3.5 mm connector I know of that has a full-sized barrel, which will make your project much easier.

Regards,
Wayne A. PFlughaupt


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post #5 of 16 Old 10-01-2013, 09:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Project Done!

Ethan, thanx for the precise reply and video link, it was great.

Gizmo, thanks for your input, your suggestion to add solder to the connectors first is in line with Wayne's process.

Wayne, Mucho Gracias! Your step by step and reasoning is a great learning tool.

I cut off a 2' length to play with and I am glad that I did. It is harder to tin than I thought that it would be.

The soldering iron that I borrowed, was old and needed a new tip, but I was still able to make do.

I put down cardboard on my work surface and got used to handling the iron and 'tinning', until I felt comfortable with my endevour. After tinning the wires, I made a small 'j' hook, so I could make a mechanicall conection(a la Ethan's video). Next, I put small beads of solder on the conectors, boy, you can sure tell a 'cold' solder quick, so that took a sec to figure out..more heat for longer time, untl the pool is shiny, not dull...waited a couple of seconds, and then just heated up the solder connections, put the 'j's through and added a little more solder untl all connections were smooth & shiny. I did need to cut off a little excess from the ground line, but other than that, this was easy.

I truley apreciate everyone's help,

Thanx again.
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post #6 of 16 Old 10-03-2013, 05:47 PM
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While I don't do a TON of soldering, when I do, I often use flux to help the solder flow better around everything, and also, especially when working with small stuff that's close to other components, I connect heat sinks all over the place, to keep the heat from migrating from the solder joint into other stuff and burning them up.  Great project though, I like to try to fix stuff like this since as you say the thing was cheap and gives you the opportunity to learn how to solder without risking much.

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post #7 of 16 Old 10-04-2013, 03:21 PM
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when I do, I often use flux to help the solder flow better around everything,

If you use solder for electronics, you'll find that it is actually a tube with rosin based flux in the core.
Never use acid flux, meant for plumbing, with electronics.
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post #8 of 16 Old 10-04-2013, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
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^^^
Yeah, my previous experience with solder was on the plumbing side. However, I knew this was different, so I did my research first. I read early on, that there was a difference, and that most soldering-iron solder comes with flux in it. I was also pleasantly surprised to find 'lead-free' solder at Harbor Freight..I still avoided breathing the fumes, mind you.
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post #9 of 16 Old 10-06-2013, 12:43 PM
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Of course i never use anything but rosen core solder, thought this was obvious, sorry, however ive found that by using liquid flux with a brush, you can get the solder to flow in all around the wires in the joint. Makes a cleaner bond
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post #10 of 16 Old 10-06-2013, 02:31 PM
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however ive found that by using liquid flux with a brush, you can get the solder to flow in all around the wires in the joint. Makes a cleaner bond

Why? The flux is already in the solder. You don't need huge globs of solder for a 'clean' bond.
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post #11 of 16 Old 10-07-2013, 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by SAM64 View Post

Quote:
however ive found that by using liquid flux with a brush, you can get the solder to flow in all around the wires in the joint. Makes a cleaner bond

Why? The flux is already in the solder. You don't need huge globs of solder for a 'clean' bond.

A far more effective approach is to cover each part to be soldered spearately with a thin layer of solder, remove the excess, heat them when mechanically attached and add a bit more solder. Adding the layer of solder is called "tinning". Heating two tinned parts to join them is called "sweating".

Any serious soldering effort requires that you obtain a solder sucker or solder vacuum which can be done for less than $10. I think Radios Shack stores still have them, but for more of course.

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/82 for example.
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post #12 of 16 Old 10-07-2013, 12:21 PM
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We use extra flux fairly often for surface-mount work, mainly to help get good connections fast using a Metcal or similar rework station. And yes everything is tinned first. The flux in the core tends to dissipate rapidly and leads to applying too much solder, at least IME. As a solder tech I am a pretty good design engineer, however...

For desoldering, the little solder suckers, or just copper braid (Solder Wick), works fine for this type of stuff (the solder suckers do NOT work well for little SMT devices, however..)

While I am thinking about it, most leadfree solder requires higher temps and frequently more flux than conventional copper. It also tends to not adhere as well, and of course the higher temp leads to more cold solder joints. Finally, silver solder is a royal pain for questionable (at best) benefit so I would avoid it. Yes, I have used it in the past, and it sounds the same to me. YMMV.

FWIWFM - Don

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post #13 of 16 Old 10-07-2013, 09:44 PM
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I have been using Kester's 60/40 5 core rosin 28 ga solder for decades. Never had an issue with it. I also pre-tin all connection points including PCB lands. I also use chemical tip cleaner frequently to remove the oxidized flux, 3 different gauges of pre fluxed solder wick, (no fluxed solder wick or old dried wick is useless) a 25 year old temp controlled, fine conical tip, Weller WTCP iron which has seen an incredible amount of work from miles of mic cables, to mix desk rehabs to SMT repairs. I still prefer the older through hole PCB with machine pin sockets for anything DIP. I have the perennial Weller 8200 for chassis ground solder lugs and large transformer windings.

I have used passive solder suckers, Ungar's squeeze bulb sucker iron, (POS-IMO) Weller desolder station with compressed air connections, and the self contained vacuum sucker stations. As I have not had a ton of SMT rework, I still prefer the simple easy to use and reliable solder wick.
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post #14 of 16 Old 10-08-2013, 08:26 AM
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Solder wick has always worked best for me in most situations. The only caveat is those big gnd/power lugs when a sucker works better. I have never had good luck with the little rubber bulbs, though the ones with the teflon tip insert at least don't die as fast.

My old Weller gun is a mess (cracked case, light out) but still works.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #15 of 16 Old 10-08-2013, 11:53 AM
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You can buy he case sections from Weller for the 8200.I have recased mine 3-4 times in the last 30 years.
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post #16 of 16 Old 10-08-2013, 12:01 PM
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I was too embarrassed to say I have done that, but the last time minutes after putting on the new case I was futzing with equipment on a bench and knocked it to the floor, smashing the new case. I have not ordered one since... smile.gif It didn't help that the case cost more than the gun when I first bought it. They (the guns) used to come with a nice metal (then later plastic) carry case, but mine disappeared decades ago, probably on a job when someone borrowed it.

edit: fix spelink misteaks

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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