What do I do if I want to buy in-ear headphones that won’t break? Seriously these things always break down after 6-12 months of use. @ramio
— Rico Sta. Cruz (@rstacruz) March 31, 2013
Rico’s tweet a couple of days ago reminded me of my drawer full of perfectly fine earphones — the only reason I can’t use them is that they have worn connections on their plug causing only one side to work. (Actually, both sides can work but you have to hold the wire near the plug at exactly the right position. Move a bit and one side loses sound.)
This got me wondering: is it easy to replace a busted earphone plug?
A quick Google search told me the answer was “yes“. This Instructables article on replacing the jack on a pair of headphones only required a cheap replacement plug and some basic tools.
Seeing this as a good opportunity to procrastinate on my current projects, I bought a 3.5 jack at my friendly neighborhood hardware store when I went out to lunch today.
Here it is beside the busted earphone jack.
And here are the tools I used:
- wire cutter – for cutting and stripping the wire
- pliers – to hold the jack in place while soldering
- lighter – to burn the wires’ insulators prior to soldering
- soldering iron and solder – for soldering, obv
- tissue and water – I can’t find my soldering stand with sponge so I had to improvise the latter; it’s just a quick solder so no need for a stand
As much as the smell of molten solder can be kinda nostalgic, I moved my workspace from my enclosed air-conditioned room to the open living room for safety.
After an hour or two of trial and error, mostly in threading the wires into the pins and testing stability of the connection, here’s the wires soldered to the pins. The actual soldering took only around 5 minutes and I was surprised that it didn’t suck like my soldering in high school.
And here’s the fully assembled jack. A quick test confirmed that both sides are working properly even when playing around with the wire.
Total cost: P25 for the plug, ~2 hours for research, prep, and assembly.