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Author Topic: How to work with thin, cheap wires?  (Read 1137 times)
NZ5N
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« on: June 10, 2012, 11:54:55 AM »

I'm on my summer trip to Slovakia and recently discovered that I can't work digital modes because my Thinkpad T510 laptop does not have the standard separate 3.5mm jacks for the headphone and microphone.  Instead, it has a single 4 pin 3.5mm jack for both, the same type used in an iPhone for hands free, see
http://pinoutsguide.com/HeadsetsHeadphones/lenovo_audio_pinout.shtml.

I don't have time to order an adapter and the local stores do not sell them.  My only hope is homebrew an adapter by cannabalizing an iPhone hands free headphone/microphone combo.  I found one of these and clipped off the ear buds and the mike.  Now all I have to do is solder the loose wires to the appropriate pins on two 3.5mm jacks I obtained.  Sounds easy, but I have never seen wire like this before.  It is of course thin and insulated.  There is also some sort of string inside.  I tried to remove the insulation but I must be doing something wrong, can't get continuity between the ends of the wires and the plug.  It must be doable, I must be using the wrong technique.

Anyone ever stripped wire like this?  Any tips?

Thanks and 73,
Bill NZ5N/OM3BD
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AC5UP
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2012, 12:08:25 PM »

Many years ago I tried to splice an AT&T telephone handset cord only to discover the four wires weren't exactly wire... The conductors were like a bundle of thin nylon fiber spiral wrapped with a gold colored foil. Small, ultra flexible and definitely low current / small signal stuff. The outer sheath looked like PVC and the only way to make a connection was through a small crimp on spade lug with an insulation piercing 'tooth'. Needless to say this required a custom crimp tool to do it right............

BTW: If you see Janka what's-her-name from Televizia JOJ give her my best. I think she's on maternity leave as I haven't seen her on the air for a couple of months. If it was me I'd pinch her on the butt then pretend to be Italian. Can you still do that in Europe ?

 Roll Eyes
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Never change a password on a Friday                
K8AXW
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2012, 10:13:13 PM »

As a last resort, try burning the insulation off with a match.  You must be very careful.  I've successfully done this a few times back in the day when I encountered headphone wire like this. 

If you don't melt the wires after the match job, then carefully (again) scrape the wires with a knife.  Hold the wires between the finger and the knife blade. 

This is a delicate job!  You might have to try a couple times. 
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K5LXP
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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2012, 06:19:54 AM »

I've had success soldering tinsel wire by putting a solder blob on the lug of the connector, then shoving the tinsel wire into the blob a few seconds.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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N4CR
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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2012, 04:32:49 PM »

I've had success soldering tinsel wire by putting a solder blob on the lug of the connector, then shoving the tinsel wire into the blob a few seconds.

It's bad when this works and you still have a VERY fragile connection.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

We are Coulomb of Borg. Resistance is futile. Voltage, on the other hand, has potential.
NZ5N
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 04:52:58 AM »

Thanks for the replies.  Mark's idea seemed to work ok, although it is fragile, as K5LXP noted.  Maybe better to crack open the molded cover on the connector and replace with thicker wire.

73, Bill NZ5N/OM3BD
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