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Repairing mic cable switchcraft connector

Back to the Maintenance, Repair and Customization Room

BlueMoose
Dec 16, 2009 7:46 PM GMT

Had a small scare last jam. Setup my stuff, went to blow and....nothing! Occasional crackles. Had to bow out of that set, Thought for a minute I had blow a speaker or something but when I got everything back home, turns out it was the mic cable.

I pulled the rubber wrap back off the bottom of the switchcraft connector, undid the little screw and it just came apart. The central wire had broken off of the solder in the central rivet that makes the connection with the male mic part.

Tonight I plan to get out the soldering iron and attempt a repair. The idea is to get the wire into the solder in the rivet hole without forming a dome or poking out. You want the metal of the rivet to make the connection not the solder.

Anybody done this before? I'm not sure if I should remove all the solder first, postition the wire and add new solder or just try to heat to the point where I can re-insert the wire into the existing solder.

moose.


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Comments (16)

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Dec 16, 2009 9:24 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

Yes, you're right. If you wire is not too short. Anyway I recommend you to dip wire into solder.

If your wire is diped you can just warm up the pin of switchcraft by solderer, remove old small part of wire and put a new one into solder drop. Soldering is much easier than overblowing and need less practice.


Dec 17, 2009 5:47 PM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

Well...success (fingers crossed). I held the cable in a vise with the exposed spring and central wire pointing up, stripped a bit more insulation off the wire, put a bit of solder on it and then placed the connector over the wire and spring, hoping the wire lined up with the inner bottom hole of the rivet. I then but the solder gun to the top of the rivet just until the solder flashed liquid and gave the connector a tiny twist down. Let it cool a few seconds and it held under a gentle tug.

Tightend the screw and tried it out with a mic. Works! Plan on hitting the jam at the Yale tonight. The cable will be getting the kid glove treatment.

moose.


Dec 19, 2009 12:43 AM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

All right! Worked great through 2 sets. (But nobody stepped on my cable last night let me tell you! :)

We were cookin' though. Guest artist was the triple threat (vocal, guitar, drums) host of the Sunday jams, that I've never been to, for some strange reason. He played drums on the second set. Commented after that he would really like me to come jam one Sunday. Might have to wait 'til the new year but it will definitely be near the top of the list.


 C F A C Eb G A C Eb G
 Bb  D  F Bb D F Bb D F Bb


Dec 19, 2009 9:35 AM GMT
Kingley Replied:

I always put shrink wrap onto my cables after soldering to ensure a little more strength in the connection. I also always solder the ground to the spring of the amphenol (switchcraft) connector and then use electrical insulation tape, to tape it all up as well. I haven't had a mic cable fail in years using this method.



Dec 19, 2009 5:02 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

I just get one of those screw on to 1/4" jack connectors and use a guitar cable instead. I have a wider choice of better quality cables.



Dec 20, 2009 4:55 PM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

The key to avoiding eventual failure is to ensure the cable is locked to the base of the connector so it cannot spin inside it. Shrink wrap and the spring help, but I have found are not sufficient. Shrink wrap loosens over time. The cables I make have even more measures taken to prevent this.

It is OK if there is a solder blob sticking up but it is not required. If you hold the connector face up while the solder hardens you won't get a big ball, unless the wire is sticking proud of the connector when you solder, which is not a good idea. You do not NEED the solder to make the connection - I documented this in a FAQ many years ago. Seehttp://www.blowsmeaway.com/faq.html

- about 2/3 down the page under "physical" is a close up photo of why this is so.

BlowsMeAway Productions

Bluestate

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Dec 21, 2009 3:09 AM GMT
Tony W Replied:

Very Cool! Boris, you are so right. Blue Moose, glad you got everything going but my first thought was I would have run to the p a mic and kept playing. Also please forgive my ignorance but can you tell me what those letters mean after your last post?



Dec 21, 2009 5:44 PM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

Hi Tony,

The letters are the notes of a B-flat harp. Just messing around with the new signature space that suppports HTML code. It's a simple table with border, font and color attributes. I'll probably switch it to something else when I get some time.


 C F A C Eb G A C Eb G
 Bb  D  F Bb D F Bb D F Bb


Dec 23, 2009 5:58 PM GMT
Joe L Replied:

I find it easier to get a screw on to 1/4" adapter.



Dec 23, 2009 7:04 PM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

Yeah, Joe, but those fail too. And they raise the possibility of interrupting your solo when you step on the cable. Can't win for losing.



Dec 23, 2009 7:34 PM GMT
Kingley Replied:

I use both types of connector Amphenol and screw on to 1/4" Jack adapter). But here's the trick I always throw my cable over my shoulder and then let it hang down to my waist. This is the best way I have found to avoid the stepping on your cable. Jerry Portnoy (among others) uses the exact same trick.

It's not foolproof but it's the best option when using cables in my experience.



Dec 23, 2009 7:37 PM GMT
Joe L Replied:

Good point Greg. It's probably time to give it up for a more robust instrument. :)

See you soon.



Jan 21, 2010 6:01 PM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

The reason your cable failed is that the spring strain relief is ineffective at keeping the cable from spinning inside the spring. This WILL happen, and WILL lead to a short between the center and shield, and/or ultimately break the center conductor. This is why there is a difference between cheap and good cables. I take MANY steps in the construction of my cables to prevent this from happening. Loctite the screw, use 2 layers of shrink wrap, glue the shrink wrap to the cable, spring and connector, etc.... and more.

It is OK if the solder ball sticks up, although it isn't necessary. However if the REASON it sticks up is because the wire itself was above the level of the rivet, that's NOT good - as the solder wears/deforms (remember, it's lead, it's soft) you can end up with a tiny point connection.

BlowsMeAway Productions
Bluestate
Bluestate on CDBaby
Bluestate on iTunes



Jan 21, 2010 6:04 PM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

Do you think I'm repeating myself?

Somehow I thought that was a new post and completely failed to recognize I had responded already. Guess I had an age-related MCI.

(Momentary Cognitive Impairment)

BlowsMeAway Productions
Bluestate
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Bluestate on iTunes



Jan 23, 2010 7:07 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

I saw Jason play last night using you mic, man he is good. as for repeating your self Greg, at least you remember things. I forget the day if it were not on the calendar. now what was this post about. Thats right.. Mic's

The mic that I bought from you is still going strong and so is the Kalamazoo. My wife's birthday was last night and this morning 2:30 am I gave her the gift certificate. she loved it.

abner (BluEyes, ; )



Jan 24, 2010 4:33 PM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

Thanks, Abner - I'm glad you're happy! That's what I'm here for.

BlowsMeAway Productions
Bluestate
Bluestate on CDBaby
Bluestate on iTunes




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