Sunday, January 6, 2019

Computer Headset Repair, or "The Stupid Cat Did What?"

Why throw it out when you can fix it

I consider myself quite blessed that I have a job that allows me to work from home quite a bit.

One really nice thing about it is that my morning commute has been reduced from almost an hour to about 2 minutes - the only traffic jam being caused on how long the coffee maker takes to brew up a cup.

The other nice thing is that I can escape the cubicle farm and have my very own "corner office".

The key in making this all happen is that I need to have all the necessary tools to communicate with my colleagues and customers, and that's where the problems begin.

The one thing about home offices, is that sometimes "home" has a way of  blending over into "office" - especially when pets are in the home.

At my house, a few cats have decided that it's more their house than mine. While we  co-exist very amicably most of the time, they sometimes forget where the money for cat food comes from.

There's been a few occasions where during video meetings, the face that my web cam was showing was quite a bit fuzzier than mine.

Other than chairing the odd meeting for me, one of the cats has a bit of a bad habit... For you see she has a bit of a habit of treating wires and cords as her personal chew toy.  So the other day when I noticed that my headset wasn't very functional anymore, it didn't take long to find out why...

It's a bit chewed up

...and who did it.

Pictured - One Bad Girl
Pictured - One Bad Girl

Oh well. It is what it is.

Now I could have just simply tossed the whole head set and just bought a new one, but that would seem to be a waste since other than a chewed wire the rest of the headset was in perfectly good shape.

Time to break out the soldering iron.

The first step was to cut out the  bit of chewed up wire and remove the wire's outer covering.

Damaged piece removed
Outer covering removed

An initial inspection showed that the cabling for the headset contained 4 wires:

  • A copper braided wire
  • A green coated braided wire
  • A red insulated wire
  • A white insulated wire. 
The wires were packed in with some fiberglass insulation. The first step was to remove the fiberglass insulation and separate out the 4 wires on both ends of the cut wires

Four wires separated

The beauty of this type of repair is that we just need to connect the same colored wires together, After doing just that, a quick touch of solder joined everything together

Starting to solder
Finished soldering

During the soldering process, I encountered something that I seem to find from time to time with some wires. I sometimes find that even though they appear to be regular copper wire, the wires themselves don't seem to take solder very well. This was certainly the case this time, which resulted in some very "blobby" soldering - definitely not my best work.

With the soldering done, I then fired up the hot glue gun and gave the bare wires a small coating of hot glue to act as insulation.

Coating the wires with hot glue
All wires coated

With the wires insulated, I then encapsulated the entire patch in hot glue in order to give the joint  some additional strength. After the glue dried I then cover the entire patch with electrical tape ( shrink tubing would have been preferred - but I can only use what I have).

With that, the repair was complete!

Coating in hot glue
Repair is sealed
Getting ready to wrap in tape
Repair is complete

I plugged the headset back into my PC and things were back to normal again.

The lesson here is that almost any corded audio item, whether it be stereo headphones, earbuds or computer headsets, can be very quickly and easily repaired.

It certainly beats buying new ones all the time.

As for the cat - she still likes her cords.

I really need to keep an eye on her

Here we go again
Here we go again

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