DIY Cables, Interconnects

GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Who makes up their own cables, and why? What products do you use? Tricks for termination/soldering?

To start, I build my own interconnects and data cables. For interconnects, I use Cardas wire and Neutrik plugs. I manage the cost of the former by buying end stock etc. The latter... I just suck it up.

For data cables (Cat 6/6e), I cut down old, but undamaged, cables to size. If find this keeps clutter at the back of the rack to a minimum. I have a nice Klein crimped tool and tester to attach the plugs/sockets. I use the "A" termination method for consistency.

I've tried a bunch of soldering irons (Weller etc.) but have yet to find one I like. So I use a fine propane torch to get parts up to temp. I stay away from lead based solders and try to use silver blends on critical connections for better conductivity). If I remember, I'll also use heat shrink tubing or other material for strain relief.

Hoping to learn more from the DIY crowd... there might be some good tips and tricks from experienced hands out there.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Who makes up their own cables, and why? What products do you use? Tricks for termination/soldering?

To start, I build my own interconnects and data cables. For interconnects, I use Cardas wire and Neutrik plugs. I manage the cost of the former by buying end stock etc. The latter... I just suck it up.

For data cables (Cat 6/6e),I cut down old, but undamaged, cables to size. If find this keeps clutter at the back of the rack to a minimum. I have a nice Klein crimped tool and tester to attach the plugs/sockets. I use the "A" termination method for consistency.

I've tried a bunch of soldering irons (Weller etc.) but have yet to find one I like. So I use a fine propane torch to get parts up to temp. I stay away from lead based solders and try to use silver blends on critical connections for better conductivity). If I remember, I'll also use heat shrink tubing or other material for strain relief.

Hoping to learn more from the DIY crowd... there might be some good tips and tricks from experienced hands out there.
I still use lead solder for any DIY electronics. It melts at a lower temp and that makes it less likely for you to damage components from heat. I suspect that better conductivity from silver solder is dubious. Don't forget that good mechanical connection is also critical for the soldering task. Since Pb-Sn solidifies quicker, it is less likely to get compromised mechanically.

I use a Weller Analog workstation, it is a work-horse soldering iron and works very well for all of my electronics needs.

Just a little wiki info:

Alloys commonly used for electrical soldering are 60/40 Sn-Pb, which melts at 188 °C (370 °F),[11] and 63/37 Sn-Pb used principally in electrical/electronic work. 63/37 is a eutectic alloy of these metals, which:


  1. has the lowest melting point (183 °C or 361 °F) of all the tin-lead alloys; and
  2. the melting point is truly a point — not a range.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
LOL I was just thinking of this a second before seeing the post.

I cannot imagine buying pre-made speaker cables due to the varying lengths I need. I use good ol' 12g copper speaker wire I buy in bulk from Monoprice and generally either bare end or banana plug (banana plug only because I like ease of use on avrs/amps/speakers and ability to change quickly when I want to move things around which I do frequently enough to make it worthwhile, otherwise I'd just stick to bare end). On my sub builds I use Neutrik Speakon connectors on both amps/subs and will on my next diy speakers on the speaker end at least. In some of the speaker/sub builds I've needed some crimp terminals (sort of like a spade with folded sides) which I connect with a crimping tool that came with a variety pack of the connectors.

I've made some special interconnects for unbalanced to balanced connections (mostly rca to xlr connections, some to phoenix type connectors) partiularly, but some rca/rca as well. Generally my interconnects are just basic rca/rca type and since all the lengths are fairly similar in my various setups and I've accumulated a fair number of various freebies/purchased ones of various brands over the years that work just fine; I don't often buy these but just go to something like Mediabridge or Monoprice if needed. For the ones I've made I've used Belden stock and Neutrik connectors mostly and just my handy little Weller soldering gun with standard solder like Slip for electronics (same stuff I used to make some crossover networks with). I have no real desire to make a lot of rca/rca cables in any case.

I have no data cable needs particularly, just use stock cables as needed.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Speakons are excellent connectors!

I've never gotten into banana plugs, probably because I don't swap out gear much. I tend to use simple tinned wire to avoid stray shorts.

Do you have a preferred source/type for banana plugs? There's sooo much crap out there and a lot of my usual sources don't stock the ones manufactured by Neutrik.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
Do you have a preferred source/type for banana plugs? There's sooo much crap out there and a lot of my usual sources don't stock the ones manufactured by Neutrik.
Monoprice Affinity line of banana plugs. Saw some review where they tested conductivity and they came in highest, as well as low cost. They also have 90degree banana plugs which I really like for behind the speakers. Those are the same build as the Affinity, same conductivity, just uses a rubber jacket that you have to put on the wire before installing the plug... the straight ones have a screw on jacket that you attach after the plug. :)
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Monoprice Affinity line of banana plugs. Saw some review where they tested conductivity and they came in highest, as well as low cost. They also have 90degree banana plugs which I really like for behind the speakers. Those are the same build as the Affinity, same conductivity, just uses a rubber jacket that you have to put on the wire before installing the plug... the straight ones have a screw on jacket that you attach after the plug. :)
Many thanks. I trust Monoprice... they sell good stuff.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
Here’s a photo of each, in action. :)

90deg. on the Right BMR(front left), Straight on the Center BMR

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
Many thanks. I trust Monoprice... they sell good stuff.
I went with Monoprice for all my cables: 12AWG Choice speaker cable, Certified Premium HDMIs, Cat6a Ethernet (all except that white one in the photo), that little Gigaswitch behind the center speaker, and their High-Quality Subwoofer cables (including a 25'run). Zero complaints. Even with the Subwoofer 1 cable that runs alongside some amp power cords and the power strip that they plug into: zero audible distortion, zero hum. ;)
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Speakons are excellent connectors!

I've never gotten into banana plugs, probably because I don't swap out gear much. I tend to use simple tinned wire to avoid stray shorts.

Do you have a preferred source/type for banana plugs? There's sooo much crap out there and a lot of my usual sources don't stock the ones manufactured by Neutrik.
I've been a fan of Sewell Silverbacks (and the same plugs are available under other brands, Nakamichi for example) for bananas due the dual set screw feature, hate the spread the end of the wire and crimp style (just find the set screw style much more secure and easier to setup right to begin with). They're not locking or angled but generally don't need that (those 90 degree ones Ryan posted look sweet tho). I'm a pretty good end twister so tinning hasn't been particularly needed to avoid shorts.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Right! Genius!!! A gentle bend with 12guage wire from the end of the binding post, and including the banana plug body needs about 2.5". Those 90degree plugs stick out about 3/8" from the binding post.
I give monoprice an honorary 'winner' badge for that! ;)
The Neutrik Speakon also comes with a 90 degree bend option, I use a couple of those.
 
davidscott

davidscott

Audioholic General
I've been a fan of Sewell Silverbacks (and the same plugs are available under other brands, Nakamichi for example) for bananas due the dual set screw feature, hate the spread the end of the wire and crimp style (just find the set screw style much more secure and easier to setup right to begin with). They're not locking or angled but generally don't need that (those 90 degree ones Ryan posted look sweet tho). I'm a pretty good end twister so tinning hasn't been particularly needed to avoid shorts.
My Sewell Silverback speaker cables came with these banana plugs. Just had to make sure to tighten the screw set.
 
davidscott

davidscott

Audioholic General
Having an appropriate screwdriver is a must to tighten them well, too.
Absolutely or you could find yourself with no signal. And mine were delivered a little loose. Great tip for Silverback cable owners.
 
j_garcia

j_garcia

Audioholic Jedi
Do a search. There's a lot of threads of what others have done here, including wire, jackets, connectors, etc...
 
killdozzer

killdozzer

Audioholic Field Marshall
It has been something I planned for a long time; I’d like to build my speaker cables. Number one reason is meditation (like modelling, but something I’ll use later on, not just hang from the wall).

I kindly ask for some help. After punching all sorts of words into eBay and making a complete tit out of myself, could you please tell me the names of some parts for cable making? I did find the angled banana connectors, but what’s the name for:

the little trousers/pantaloons that you put at the end of the cable to separate +/- and to finish the “jacket”?

also, what is the name of that jacket? the woven one that you dress your cable with?

is the term heat-mouldable used for the ones that will shrink if you use blow-drier on them

I’d order these parts on eBay (not all is available in my town), but first, I’m having hard time finding them and second, I’d like to be certain that I’ve ordered what I need.

It’s just a couple of words, I hope I’m not wasting too much of your time. I did try to find it myself, but, believe me, when you type snake skin jacket into eBay you get all sorts...
 

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