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Headset Fun

from Mike Higgins, K6AER on April 18, 2017
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Headset Fun
By Mike Higgins, K6AER

Hams are always looking for a cheaper solution to good microphone audio. With all the gaming and cell phone headsets we really have quite a few choices beside using the mic that came with the radio. Many headsets use a three ring 3.5 mm plug for the microphone and in the last few years more and more headsets are using the 4 ring 3.5 mm audio plug. This requires ordering on line for Radio Shack does not carry this 4 ring plug jack. The interface box for these headsets can be built for under $20. The headset shown above I bought at Walmart for $9.80 in the cordless phone department. So far It has had very good reports. Now I will admit Bob Heil is gaging at the thought of a $9 headset but the hobby is supposed to be fun. Walmart has about 12 headsets listed for under $25. Project time took about 2 hours to build the interface box.

Transceiver wiring is straight forward. Most radios have a bias voltage (5-8 Volts DC) for the microphone, PTT, Ground and Audio out at the microphone connector or the rear accessory jack located on the radio back. The interface box I built is for the IC-706 IC-7000 and 7300 series radios. You can find out the pin arrangement for any radio on the internet. Make sure the bias voltage is positive on the mic line when you buy one of these headsets.

The box is set up with twin jacks, one for the microphone and one for the receive audio. If you use a 4 pin headset they generally come with an adaptor cable for the twin jack application. On top of the box is a PTT button and an On/Off transmit switch. You may want to delete the toggle switch for the PTT button can be made to continually stay on if the button is depressed far enough. All the wiring is dead bug in application. In addition, I added a toroid in the mic audio line to reduce possible RF from getting into the microphone audio. The Toroid material is type 43 with about 10 windings of number 26 gage coil wire. The toroid is very small and does an excellent job of stopping RF on the audio line.

The cable from the box to the radio connector is a Cat five cable with most of the wires pulled out. Only three wires are needed along with the shielded mic line which also carries the ground. I pulled the three wires and mic audio line back through the Cat 5 sheath to make the cabling enclosed to the 8 pin microphone plug.

The schematic for a dual connector interface box is shown below:

On the air use: When setting up the microphone audio you want as much dynamic range as possible. That means when you are not talking the RF output from the radio should be zero. Voice peaks are 90% full transceiver wattage without OVER DRIVING THE RADIO. Contrary to popular radio myth, it is not good to have all the meter needles flailing to the right. Good SSB audio is not necessary a function of microphone cost but careful level setting and a quiet shack. If you are getting RF into the microphone the other station will report fuzzy distortion on voice peaks. The microphone should be about 1 inch from your lips, just off to the side, so as not to be driven by breath noise.

Walmart will let you return any headset if you are not satisfied. One of the best bargains my ham buddies have found is the Yapster-TM-YP100 headset at Walmart for under $20. The audio both transmit and receive is excellent along with the comfort and affordability.

So now is the time to experiment and have fun.

Yapster TM-YB100A $17.00

Member Comments:
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Headset Fun  
by K9CTB on April 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for a great little article. I had a friend (Ebay contact actually) show me how easy it is to use a PC headset on modern HF transceivers. I've experimented a while now and found differences between all types of headsets ... I guess they don't all get their mic elements from the same Chinese vendor. I did find however, that some CAT5 cable (at least here at this station) is not shielded - or is inadequate - and picks up household hum and noise. Finding shielded cable cheap is not a problem. It is a lot of fun finding a $9.98 headphone and trying to make it sound like a Heil ... not yet, but we're getting close!! Hehe. Thanks and 73,

Headset Fun  
by WB4M on April 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've been using PC headsets for years. Even the cheapest ones have worked well and people say I have good audio. I have used them PTT and VOX. Right now I am using a Turtle Beach gaming headset, 50mm speakers, great bass, full sound, in-line volume control.
Headset Fun  
by K6CRC on April 18, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Good article! I have made several cable assemblies for past radios. I like my Yamaha CM-500, not one of the cheap headsets. I doubt if it sounds better, but it is more comfortable than my kids' gaming headsets.
I have a hard time soldering to the 8 pin plug for rig mic connection, and getting a quality connection with the shielding. I ended up just buying an adapter on eBay. It wasn't too much $$. Versions for Icom, etc. Several ham vendors.
Headset Fun  
by WV4L on April 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article. I too have been using a PC type headset for years. Some are still available that don't need the adapter box mentioned and are simply plug and play with the proper mic connector for your given rig.
Wayne C.
Headset Fun  
by N4UE on April 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks Mike, like the other guys, I've also used these headsets for years. One 'tip'.....
Years ago, I bought a 500' spool of high quality RG-174 coax. This is all I use for mic and speaker connections. It works great, small, flexible and great shielding...
Works fer me.

Headset Fun  
by W6VYC on April 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

Nice talking to you today on your headset. The audio sounded great. I will have to put together one of these interfaces for my 7300.

Cheers, Dave

RE: Headset Fun  
by N4MQ on April 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I took a bit of a different path, I have the Heil pro 7 head set and found that it did not meet my needs. I have added a 12' triple shielded cable and placed a PTT switch on the left earphone.

Now I can move about during qso's and reach that item that was just out of reach, get up and walk to the other desk as I wish. Shielding is important, so use separate shield for audio and microphone and do not connect it to the Ptt switch either.

It is suprising that the Heil does not offer extended length cords? Being a Ham, I decided to roll my own.

Enjoy, Woody
Headset Fun  
by W8ICE on April 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I might be missing something or slightly confused. How does the AF audio work with the tip and ring both connected to pin 4?
RE: Headset Fun  
by W8ICE on April 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
never mind. Posted the comment without enough morning coffee yet. Did not notice the common ground connection on the diagram.
Headset Fun  
by K3ACE on April 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I just ordered the Yapster but got the PLUS model. Cost a tad more but has larger more comfortable ear pieces. Thanks for the article. Good to see home brewing is still alive.

RE: Headset Fun  
by K6AER on April 22, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
For those of you who don't have time to make your own interface, I was contacted by Dan at to let me know he makes these boxes for under $40.00. He also adds a food switch connector.

What could be easier.
Headset Fun  
by VE3TMT on April 30, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've been using a Koss SB-40 for years. Dynamic element requires no bias voltage. Mic element straight into the radio. Get great reports. Lots of volume in the headphones as well. Has lasted much longer than the PRO Set 6 Elite that fell apart in my hands. The Koss retails for around $40 CAD.
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