Art of the Hands

Time to Tinker


I’m sure that all of us have experienced the frustration of headphones getting tangled on us, then getting broken because of it. I know that feeling because it happens to me all the time. Recently, I decided to try to fix my perpetual problem with a little bit of engineering.

One really common you I see people keep their headphones from getting tangled in their pockets is to wrap them around their fingers then tie it off like a piece of rope.

While I have used this technique does succeed in keeping your headphones untangled while they are in your pocket, I have found that it has a fatal flaw that will decrease the life expectancy of the headphones. That fatal flaw is the jack, in order to keep the knot from unraveling it must be tucked into the loops of the coil and as such is bent at a fairly severe angle. with repeated use, this stress point results in damage to the wiring and eventually a short, likely only in one ear. At least this is what kept happening to me.

Now I know that many cheap headphones will practically come from the factory with a short in them, but either way I wanted to make an apparatus to minimize the stress placed on the headphones, hopefully increasing their lifetime. With that in mind, I decided to grab some copper wiring I had laying around and make myself a copper whatyamacallit to solve my problem.

The result is basically a small, wire, Christmas light holder. The loop in the middle is so I can catch my earbuds and hold them together while I wrap the wiring around the prongs. The gaps in the wiring are also strategic as they allow me to remove my headphones without unthreading my headphones completely.

The key feature of this device is how it keeps the wire from unraveling. Instead of relying on a knot to keep everything secure, it instead uses the pressure created by squeezing the headphone jack between the wiring of the prong and the headphone wire itself. The friction is strong enough to keep the wiring from unraveling, and the way it grabs the headphone jack allows for the wiring to be kept nearly straight. Because the wiring is fairly straight, there are no concentrated stress points that will fail faster than the rest of the wiring. as a bonus, the rigid frame from the wire also helps to keep the headphones from getting bent while in your pocket.

I don’t think that this is a perfect system, I do think that it is better than the alternatives. I have only been using my apparatus for only a month or two so I don’t know if there is a failure point that I haven’t seen yet, but I think that my headphones will likely die from work before they die from my pocket, and that was the goal anyway so I am happy with that right now.

I hope that you have enjoyed this post. If you want to repeat this project, then don’t worry about being exact, all you need is some wire, some safety equipment, and some needle nose pliers. make a general shape that you are happy with and then test it. you will probably need to make modifications to do that and once you are happy with your design then cut away the excess wire and voila, you’re done. Have fun with this simple little project and I will see you in the next one. Till then, Happy Tinkering!

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