Sunday, April 22, 2012

Throwback to Instructables

I am secretly a gamer chick.

Back in 2008 I was obsessed with a big fan of playing Halo on Xbox and played way too much very often with a group of friends. We used the in-game chat to talk about our strategy (yes, there is a strategy to winning a Halo match) and to just chat in general about things going on with work, school, and friends.

The one thing I could not stand was the quality of the average Xbox headsets that you get at the stores at that time and I wasn't going to spend the money to get one of the expensive Turtle Beach ones when I already had a pretty costly PC headset (for other gamer-chick vices) that could do the same thing. Luckily I am married to someone who is pretty handy with electronics and so, our adapter was born!

Granted, it was a pretty awkward piece but it did the job. I like to think the idea originated with us since we  built it because we couldn't find any for sale anywhere. I originally posted this on the Instructables site in 2008 and since then, we have seen mass produced models of the connectors become available including  a product through a company called The Headset Buddy who started their website in 2009. Purchasing one is a good option for those of you who might not be so inclined as to solder one for yourself. I invite you to read through the comments left by Instructables users during the last 4 years for more tips and information.

Step 1: Gather Tools

First, you'll want to make sure that you have a few handy items to complete this project. Everything we're using can be picked up at your local Radio Shack or similar Electronics parts store. You'll need: solder, a soldering iron, wire cutters, a blade of some sort, and wire strippers (if you're not able to use a blade).

Note: you'll also need a very small piece of wire you can solder on as a bridge. But more on that in a later step.

You're also going to want a safe place to solder and you may like to use gloves if you're skin is sensitive to cutting or burning...

Step 2: Go Shopping!

Unless you have these just laying around, and believe me, I know some people who do, you're going to want to purchase the items listed below. As I said in the beginning, as long as you have all the materials listed in step 1, these parts cost less than $20.

You'll need:
(1) 1/8" to 3/32" Adapter
(1) 4" Stereo Headphone Cable Y-Adapter
(1) 2 pk Solder-Type Stereo In-Line 1/8" Phone Jack

Step 3: Preparation of the Y-Adapter

Cut the existing ends off only the top two arms of the "y" adapter. You want to get as close as possible to the jack to leave yourself plenty of wire to work with. Remember, only cut off the top two arms of the adapter, leave the bottom piece intact.

Step 4: Start Stripping!

1) Very carefully score about 1/2" of the black insulation off the arms of the newly cut "y" adapter.

2) Using your wire stripper or some pliers, Pull off the 1/2" of black insulation you just scored to expose a bundle of foil wrapped wires.

3) Using your Xacto blade, slit open the foil shielding to expose the Black (headset), Metal (ground), and Red (microphone) wires.

4) You'll see that we've also slipped the plastic housing from the 1/8" phone jack over the exposed wires so after we solder we can screw it all together.

Step 5: Start choosing Sides.

Determine which side, left or right you want to be your speaker. Don't stress too much about this as you can always flip it over and left is right and right is left!

1) On side A, strip half of the exposed Red wire.

2) On side B, strip half of the exposed Black wire.

3) {here's the tricky part} On BOTH sides, thread the ground (the silver metal wires exposed w/o stripping) through the small hole at the base of the metal jack and curl it around the base.

4) On side A, connect the Red wire to one of the terminals. You DO NOT want this to touch both terminals.

5) On side B, connect the Black wire to one of the terminals. Here, we'll be adding a bridge to connect the two terminals. A bridge can be any small piece of wire you have laying around. You only want the bridge to connect the terminals, not touch the rest of the jack. (see next step)

Step 6: Ready, Set, SOLDER!

1) On Side A (red), solder your ground wire from the back where it was threaded through, all the way around.

2) On Side A (red), solder the point where the red wire connects to the terminal and snip off the remaining black wire ensuring that none of the black wire will come in contact with any of the other wires or solder.

3) On Side B (black), solder your ground wire from the back where it was threaded through all the way around.

4) On Side B (black), solder the point where the black wire connects to the terminal and snip off the remaining red wire ensuring that none of the red wire will come in contact with any of the other wires or solder.

5) On Side B (black), create a bridge out of a small piece of wire and connect both terminals together. Note, this is only done on the BLACK side. This is going to cause you to have pseudo Stereo sound as you're really diverting the mono signal to go through both sides of your head phones.

Step 7: Finish

With both sides soldered as instructed, you should be able to slide up the plastic housing and screw the jack into it.

You may want to mark which side is Headphones (black) and which side is Microphone (red) so it will be easy to hook up. Attach the 1/8" to 3/32" adapter to the bottom of the newly modified "y" adapter and plug into your controller.

If you're having trouble with interference, try hot-gluing around your solder work to isolate the connections.

You can also use this set-up to connect your gaming headset with most cell phones too as they take the same jack.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and very efficient. Thanks for this tutorial. By the way, I got my headset when I was browsing on the top xbox headsets. They are super cool...