Earbuds and standard headphones are small and lightweight enough to travel everywhere. While modern headphones tend to be inexpensive, a favorite pair of earbuds that fit nicely and are comfortable is not something easily disposed of. Replacing the plug is a way to save a much-loved pair of headphones or earbuds. To replace the headphone jack and increase the life of the device, owners need a few tools and supplies. Whether purchasing the headphone jack at a electronic store or online at a site like eBay, knowing which tools and supplies are needed can make the job smoother and more efficient for owners.
Tools and Supplies for Repairing a Headphone Jack
Before trying to repair a headphone jack, consumers should gather a few tools for the project, including wire cutters, solder and asoldering iron,needle nose pliers, a replacement headphone jack, heat-shrink tubing, and matches.
How to Remove the Headphone Jack
Start by cutting the plug from the end of the headphone cable, taking 1.5 to 2 inches of cable along with it.
For shielded cable, strip the outer insulation from the last 0.75-inch of the cable with wire cutters. Underneath there are two color-coded wires inside a shield of bare copper wire. Twist the bare copper to make a third strand of wire.
Remove 0.25-inch of insulation from each of the two inner wires. Heat the soldering iron and hold it on one of the three wires for a few seconds, then touch the tip of the solder to the heated area. This leaves a small bead of solder on the wire's end that owners need to spread evenly. Be sure to keep the heated soldering iron on a heatproof holder or heatproof work surface.
Repeat the heating and soldering process with the remaining wires. This makes it easier to attach to the plug's contacts.
After snipping off the old jack, pull the two wires, separating the last 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Carefully strip the wires of their casings. Underneath is a braided shield, or ground, and a color-coded wire. Strip the color-coded wires. Twist the two shields together, making a single strand.
Prepare each of the wires by heating it for a few seconds with the soldering iron, holding with a pair of needle nosed pliers then touching the heated area with the tip of the solder. Spread the melted solder on each wire with the tip of the soldering iron and allow them to cool completely.
How to Connect a New Headphone Jack
Unscrew the replacement plug and place the pieces on a flat, heatproof work surface. Most consist of an outer shell and the plug itself and some contain heatproof shielding.
Slip the outer shell of the connector over the wire and add the heatproof shielding if the replacement jack comes with it. Next, examine the terminals inside the plug. The ground wire connects to the longer terminal. The red wire typically connects to an outer section of the plug. The other wire connects to the middle of the plug. It is usually color-coded white, black, or green. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions.
Insert the soldered red wire through the hole in its terminal. Heat the wire and terminal for a few seconds with the soldering iron, and then gently touch the solder to the heated area. A small bead forms, bonding the wire to the terminal. Repeat for each wire. The long terminal for the ground wire usually has two tabs on it, designed to crimp over the wire and hold it in place. Crimp those down with a pair of pliers.
Slide the insulator up over the plug, over soldered connections. If using heat shrink tubing, shrink it into place by waving a lighted match underneath. Slide the outer cover over the plug and screw it back together. Headphone wires are very fine, and can break if roughly handled. If that happens, cut the end off and start again.
How to Buy Headphone Jacks and Supplies on eBay
To begin a search for headphone jacks and supplies on eBay, type keywords into the Search bar. To reveal the best results, keep the keywords as relevant as possible. Use terms like "headphone jack" or " headphone replacement parts." If shoppers need more help on searching, they can read the Search Tips page. Before buying a product on eBay, read the listing thoroughly. Note the factors that are pertinent to the item including color, shipping costs, weight, price, estimated date of shipment, and delivery details. If shoppers have questions, they can contact the seller directly by clicking on the Ask a Question link on the seller's page.