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3.5mm

  1. Connector Plating and Other Metals – Conductivity in Cables

    All cables (with the exception of fiber cables) are made using metal. Looking at any cable, users can see metal in the connectors on the end. Some connectors are entirely made of metal while others are mostly plastic and contain small metal pins. Regardless of how much metal is used in making a cable, and regardless of what exactly that cable is used for, these materials are all used for the same purpose: to conduct electricity. Any user who has handled various cables over the years, as most people have, has probably noticed that different metals can be used from one cable to the next.

    Why are Certain Metals used in Cables?

    So why are different metals used? Is there a metal that is better than the rest? There are many different factors that go into selecting what metals are used in making a cable. The first of which is conductivity. The list shows the commonly used metals in cable manufacturing, from most to least conductive (rated assuming the metals are pure).

    1. Silver
    2. Copper
    3. Gold
    4. Aluminum
    5. Zinc
    6. Nickel
    7. Brass
    8. Bronze
    9. Iron
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  2. USB Adapters/Converters

    Of all the different ports that are built into computers today, none is more prominent than the USB port. Every computer, from the most budget-friendly laptop to a high-end liquid-cooled desktop, has at least one USB port somewhere on it. The trouble is when you have a computer with USB ports and not much else. Luckily, USB adapters can be used when you need to change USB into another format.

    USB to Ethernet (RJ45)

    A lot of modern laptops and even some desktops are built with wireless transceivers for WiFi but no ethernet port for a hardline. So what happens when a wireless connection is too slow while you are trying to stream a TV show or download a movie? A simple USB to Ethernet Adapter can make the computer ethernet ready, giving users much faster download speeds via a reliable hardline connection. Simply plug the adapter in, connect the ethernet cable, and you will be good to go. There is even a version supporting the newer USB Type-C, seen on the latest cell phones and computers.

    USB to HDMI

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  3. Spring Cleaning: Cables to Keep (Or Not)

    Cables to Keep Around the House

    Spring is here and a lot of us are going to use that nicer weather to get a little cleaning done. If your house is anything like everyone else's, there is probably a junk drawer somewhere with a big mess of old cables. After untangling all the knots, you will want to look at each cable to see what you should keep and what can be tossed.

    Keep: Micro USB 2.0

    Micro USB is better known as a “phone charger” since they are mostly used for Android phones. Not to mention tablets, streaming devices, smart speakers, and more. Micro USB is not going anywhere anytime soon, so keeping a few extras around is a good idea right now.

    Keep: Micro USB 3.0

    This upgraded Micro USB is mostly used for external hard drives. Some cell phones use these for charging cables too. While not as widespread as the older 2.0 version, this is new enough that hanging onto one or two of them is worth it.

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  4. Pinouts (Wiring Schemes)

    “Pinout” is a term describing how an electrical cable is wired. Some cables do not have pinouts because they only contain a single internal wire, like coax cables. But if a cable has multiple pins on the end of the cable, it will have a pinout.

    Each type of multi-pin cable has a standard pinout or two, but these layouts are not set in stone. Some machines will require non-standard pinouts; this will require users to use a custom cable.

    Pinouts also come into play when using a cable with two different ends. For example, going from DB9 (9 pins) to DB25 (25 pins) will mean the DB25 side has 16 unused, “dead” pins.

    If you need to know what pinout a cable needs, ideally there will be a spec sheet handy showing it. The next best option is contacting the manufacturer of the equipment the cable will be used with to see if they have a spec sheet available. If you have a cable tester available, that can be used to see how the pins line up. As a last resort, a cable can also be cut open to verify the pinout.

    In the guide below, we will be highlighting the standard pinout configuration for common types of multi-pin cables.

    Ethernet Pinouts

    Ethernet uses two main pinouts, straight and crossover. Straight cables are used to connect computers to other devices, like modems and routers. Crossover cables are used to connect two computers directly. The wires inside ethernet cables are color-coded to industry standards, making it easy to follow the standard pinout options.

    St

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  5. Cable Splitters

    Cable splitters are used to connect multiple TVs, computer monitors, or other devices to a single signal source. There are differences between the various types of splitters, but a few general rules apply to them all. Splitters only go from one input to multiple outputs; if you need to go from multiple inputs to one output, you need a switch instead.

    When a signal goes through a splitter, it is divided and becomes weaker. Imagine an HDMI splitter as an example. Modern HDMI cables are capable of a 4k signal, which works fine if you are using a single HDMI cable by itself. However, say you use a 4-way HDMI splitter to run four cables to four TVs. Each signal would only have half the normal strength so none of the TVs will have 4k quality.

    Because the signal is evenly divided, the signal will become weaker for bigger splitters. A 2-way splitter will have signals with ½ the normal strength, a 3-way splitter will have ⅓ the normal strength, etc. This is true even if you are not using every port on the splitter. When a cable splitter is powered on, the signal is split between every port on the unit even if not all of them are in use. For example, if you have a 3-way splitter and are only using two of the ports, each of those two lines will still only have ⅓ the normal signal strength.

    Coax Cable Splitters

    Coax cable splitters are used to connect multiple TVs to a single coax line. These splitters are made with F-type female ports, the same type of screw-on connection seen on the backs of most TVs.

    Coax splitters can be rated for different Radio Frequency (RF) ratings, measured in MegaHertz (MHz). The MHz range on the splitter determines whether it can be used for antenna, satellite, or both

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  6. Making & Mending - DIY 3.5mm Cables

    3.5mm jacks, also called headphone jacks, are the most common type of audio cable. There are different variations of this jack, such as the smaller 2.5mm and the larger ¼”, but they are all functionally similar. 3.5mm cables are commonly available as off-the-shelf items, but sometimes a repair it easier than a replacement. Other times, users need a custom size not available as a standard cable.

    This guide will show users how to assemble 3.5mm themselves, either as a repair or brand-new installation. Since 2.5mm and ¼” jacks are the same shape as 3.5mm, they use the same installation process and the below steps can be used as a general guideline for them as well.

    Before getting started, it is important to note there are different types of 3.5mm connections. These three types are TS, TRS, and TRRS. TS connections are used for mono audio or independent microphones and have one ring around the metal end of the connector. TRS connections are used for stereo audio and have two rings. TRRS connections are used for stereo plus a microphone and have three rings.

    TS (left), TRS (middle), and TRRS (right) are all industry standards.

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  7. Audio & Video Cables

    Audio and video cables go hand-in-hand, often being paired together. Some cables can even transmit audio and video on just one line. Over time a lot of new audio and video cables have been introduced, so the cable you need will often depend on the age of the equipment you are using. Most TVs, computers, and other devices can use multiple types of audio and video connections, so it is good to be able to identify them and know your options.

    Audio-only cables include:

    • 3.5mm
    • 2.5mm
    • ¼”
    • Optical Toslink
    • XLR
    • SpeakOn
    • MIDI

    Video-only cables include:

    • S-Video
    • DB9
    • VGA
    • DVI

    Audio/video cables include:

    • F-type
    • BNC
    • RCA
    • Component
    • HDMI
    • DisplayPort

    Audio-only

    3.5mm

    3.5mm, also called ⅛” cables, is one of the most common audio cables. They are sometimes called “headphone jacks”, being the type of connection used for headphones. These ports are frequently found on cell phones, computers, and televisions.

    There are a few different versions of 3.5mm: TS, TRS, and TRRS. TS cables will have one ring, dividing the metal sections into two conductors and are most often used for mono connections like microphones. TRS has two rings to give it three conductors, allowing them to be used for stereo connections such as speakers. TRRS has three rings for four conductors to support stereo aud

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