Sunday, February 14, 2010

How do I repair a broken HDMI cable end?

Many people have found that their pre-wired house contained no redundancy in wiring-especially in HD cables.

The problem comes when the HDMI end breaks on an in-wall cable run. It isn't as simple as tying a new cable to one end and pulling it through. Most of the time replacing such a cable isn't a real possibility, and routing a new cable (hidden from sight) through the home is a major challenge at best.

A reader emailed me and asked about this very problem concerning his 35 foot HDMI cable whose end had broken off. I researched the net and found that there are replacement ends available. These require soldering on a very small scale. To do this you better have "mad" soldering skills to begin with because there are 15 or more cables in an HDMI cable.

After I had sent my response with the link to cable ends, I began to think more about this digital dilemma. Even if you had the soldering skills for this intricate work, you would do it on a table with clamps and magnification, etc. Trying to perform this maneuver while kneeling at the wall seemed all but impossible. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had not given this man an answer that he could use.

So, after some thought and investigation, I have successfully replaced an HDMI cable end in a manner that is simple enough for the average individual to accomplish.

First I took an HDMI cable and cut it open to see what was really inside this cable. The construction of the HDMI cable is much like coaxial cable in that there is a rubber outer sheath followed by steel braided shielding and then foil wrap. Here, the two differ. Coaxial cable then has a layer of white dielectric that surrounds the center conductor. HDMI has a bundle of small gauge wires.

These wires come in "sets". There are five twisted pairs and five single lines (grounds) associated with them. The five twisted pairs are specifically arranged in the bundle. The center twisted pair is not wrapped in foil, while the surrounding four pair are wrapped in foil.

To replace an HDMI cable end, first purchase another HDMI cable from the same manufacturer if possible. (You will find it easiest if you get the same manufacturer because their color coding will make for easy re-attachment.) Test this line first to make sure it works. You will also need 15 UR splice connectors, the type used for telephone line splicing.

Next, cut the cable about 18 inches from the end.
Strip off approximately 10 inches of outside rubber sheath.
Next, slide back the braided shielding revealing the foil covering.
Carefully open the foil covering and lay it back out of the way.
At this point you should see an uncovered twisted pair (center) and the four other twisted pairs.
Next, cut off four inches of the center wires. (This leaves excess foil and braid that you will use to finish the repair.)

Next, get as much slack as you have to work with from your broken cable.
Cut the broken end off and strip at least two inches of the outer sheath (more is easier if you have it to work with). Ideally, strip 8 inches of the outer sheath.
Slide back the braided shielding and carefully peel back the foil.
IF you have the 8 inches to work with, cut 4 inches off the end of the wires. This will again leave excess foil and shielding that you will need to finish the repair. (If you don't have but a little to work with, expose the wires to have at least two inches to work with.)

Once exposed, start with the center twisted pair and using the UR connector telephone splice to connect one of these wires to the corresponding mate. Only untwist the wire enough to be able to use the connector (about 1/2 inch beyond your fingers). Then connect the mate of this pair, likewise.

Next, grasp one of the wrapped, twisted pairs and twist it counterclockwise about five turns. The lines begin to separate and the foil begins to come loose. Gently peel back the foil to expose the wires. Re-twist the wires until you have just enough left to add the splice (1/2 inch).

Find the corresponding twisted pair and repeat the above procedure. Connect both wires of the pair using two UR splices and then wrap the foil back around the twisted pair up to the connector.

Follow this procedure for all of the twisted pairs.

Next, use splicers to connect each of the single lines to their corresponding mate.

After all lines have been spliced, using the foil covering that you peeled back, re-wrap the foil around the cables up to the splice.

After the foil is in place, slide the braided shielding back over the wires until it reaches the splice.

Finally, I wrapped this splice with some tin foil.

Plug it in and test.

I hope this helps solve one of the "unsolvable" digital issues.

For some pictures you can go to DTV USA Forum here:

God bless,