If you read this in a catalogue, what would you expect?

"4 circuit, 3.5mm plug and coiled cable
For Yaesu VX-1, VX-5...This is not a cloning cable, as ring 1 has no connection."

Right, you'd do as I did and expect a cable with a 4-ring plug with tip, rings 2, 3 and the sleeve connected. Why is this of any interest to anybody?

For flying I need a hands-free/push-to-talk setup, with the speaker/microphone as close to the helmet as possible. I bought my current radio, a Yaesu VX-5R, with a speaker-mike (a blob on a coiled cable that you can clamp to your shirt neck or similar), but that thing is too big to be stuffed inside the chinguard of my helmet. Having it on the shoulder is not too good, either, as the wind noise is too loud, and I'd have to let go of one brake handle to operate the PTT switch. Used it like that, but Not Good.

For my old radio I had bought an in-helmet hands-free+PTT set, with a PTT switch that goes on a finger and a small in-helmet mike+speaker.

Of Course the Kenwood connectors are not compatible with the new Yaesu gear. And the Yaesu ones are a bit weird, a 3.5mm 4-ring plug with a very narrow sleeve base. You can't source them easily, all the 4-ringers I found had a wide sleeve base and don't fit properly/reliably. (Yes I've tried, why do you ask?)

Eventually I recycled a discman plug from one of the boxes of trash which matched more or less; that setup works not too badly, but it's far from perfect.

Imagine my happiness upon seeing that catalogue item. Cheap, too, at US$ 2.99 (but shipping wasn't). Today I got the cable, heated up the soldering iron and - strange foreboding and all - used the multimeter before destroying/dismantling the old mess.

Guess what: ring 1 IS connected fine, but the tip ain't. Great. I don't even need ring 1 (it's for serial data transfer) but I. do. need. the. bloody. tip. connected.

An hour later I've finally learned that

  • no, it wasn't a fault near the wire-end of the cable.
  • yes, you can dismantle molded plugs without destroying them utterly.
  • the trained monkey in China shouldn't have been paid for soldering this cable, as he'd done a bloody lousy job.
  • when soldering itsy-bitsy crap like that, one should not be tardy as the isolator between the plug rings goes up in smoke very quickly.
  • and no, restoring a molded plug doesn't really work, even when you are armed with a hot glue gun. The result is not entirely unlike a working plug but reliability of that mess is about zero.

Fuck it all. My bad luck persists. Tomorrow I'll be helping \rho with some wiring in his house's roof, and hopefully his luck will rub off onto me and not the other way round...

[ published on Mon 20.09.2004 23:31 | filed in still-not-king | ]
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© Alexander Zangerl