Shop for audio and video supplies and you quickly find connection cables purchased at retail prices can be very expensive. RCA cables are a common cable type used in home audio and video systems. You can save money and extend the life of your RCA cables by taking a few moments to make your own repairs. Accomplishing the task does not require a great deal of technical skill, just a bit of experience using a wire stripper and solder gun.
Examine the cable and see what type you have. RCA cables come either with moulded plastic connectors or metal connectors. If you have metal connectors, skip to Step 3.
Purchase metal RCA connectors at an electronics or radio supply store. New connectors are usually sold in pairs, so even if only one connector is bad, you may want to replace both for the sake of physical appearance. Also consider the other moulded connector may be prone to failure, so replacing both ends avoids having to address problems with the remaining connector at a later time.
Examine the metal connector. An RCA cable consists of a metal tip surrounded by a sleeve. The sleeve portion unscrews to reveal the point where the cable wires should be soldered into place in the connector. The outer wire of the cable usually connects to the sleeve; the inner wire connects to the tip. If you are repairing a cable that already has a metal connector, you may be able to see a break in either of these connections. If the break is less than an 1/8 inch, you can repair the break by simply applying more solder to fill the gap. If the break is larger or you have plastic connectors, continue with the following steps.
Use your wire cutter to cut the cable just underneath the connector and remove the old connector.
Examine the cable now that you have exposed the wire by removing the connector. Most audio cable has a plastic outer insulation that covers the first layer of braided wire. This braided band of wire surrounds an inner wire and is separated by plastic insulation.
Strip about 3/4 inch of the outer insulation off of the cable using your wire strippers, followed by 1/2 inch off the inner core insulation. Take care not to damage the wire when you strip the insulation off.
Make sure to first thread the cable through the connector sleeve by inserting the cable end into the hole at the bottom of the sleeve. If you forget this step, you will not be able to attach the sleeve once you have soldered the connector end in place.
Prepare the cable end to be soldered into place by carefully inserting the inner wire into the small hole for the tip connection, then the outer wire through the small hole for the sleeve connection. Apply solder at these points with your solder gun. Screw the sleeve into place when finished.
Things you need
- Replacement RCA connectors
- Wire cutter
- Wire stripper
- Soldering gun