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:
 http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-hdtv-chat/23534-how-do-i-fix-broken-hdmi-connector.html

God bless,
Highdefjeff

16 comments:

  1. Hi,

    Quick question - I have a broken HDMI cable (40 ft in-wall run) and your post is the best advice I've found so far on fixing it. My question is, do you have a particular type or brand of UR connector you recommend? All of the ones I've found online look big and considering there are so many wires to splice I wonder if it won't get too crowded/bulky around the splice site. Any advice you can give is much appreciated!

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  2. Dear Jack,

    It is unfortunate that the splice IS bulky, but it is more unfortunate to be unable to use the line.

    I used the 3-wire telephone line connectors that I had on-hand because they were easy and quick, but you could use a two wire connector or any small connector; you could also solder the connections and wrap with electrical tape.

    Hopefully, you will be able to hide the splice behind the TV or some equipment if you can not return it to its original placement.

    God bless you in your effort. I have posted some pictures here:
    http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-hdtv-chat/23534-how-do-i-fix-broken-hdmi-connector.html

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  3. Hey Jeff, This repair works great. I am a Dish Network dealer and I prewired a 25' HDMI cable in to a fire place.The end broke off somehow and I planned on some tedious remedy. This splice only took me about twenty minutes.I spliced it with scotch lock UY connectors. You are an HD HERO. Jim, with Satellite Supervision inc.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jim. I'm happy it worked for you!

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  4. I have a similar situation and before I tackle this just wanted to confirm a couple things. I have a HDMI cable approx 30ft that is running from a directv box inside the house - to an outside TV that runs through a conduit that is under ground and impossible to snake a new cable through. (Bad planning on my part) I always pulled TV inside when not using and wrapped the heck out of HDMI connector with plastic and electrical tape- but my guess is that some moisture still made it's way in and now the outside HDMI plug does not work. Now is this the same procedure your are discussing- can I buy a new short cable clip the head off the broken one and attach a new one by following your procedure from above? If so I will give it a shot and I thank You for your knowledge and time

    Thanks
    Matt

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  5. Hi Jeff I was wondering after you replace the HDMI end connector will you lose the high definition in the cable as well.
    Thank You,
    Kc

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  6. High definition will show no noticable degredation.

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  7. I came to this site curious to see if anyone had good advise on the subject yet. Looks good to me. I just completed doing this for a 100ft run that spanned an attic of a church. I went through the trouble of soldering all my connections. What was a real challenge for me is that I didn't have a new cable that was the same brand as the old one. So I had to map out both cables first and then "mismatch" my wires on purpose so that it would work. I even had one of the "returns" or un-insulated ground pairs that had to cross over to another set. My cable is now about 2ft longer than it used to be and therefore less strain is on the end (so hopfully I don't ever have to go through that again!)

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  8. Hi,

    I just tried this repair last night with a matching brand of cable, but found that the single lines inside were of a different color code, also the shorter length I bought Is a smaller gauge of wire (30awg vs 28 awg) and finally the in wall wire is directional while the replacement length is not. Are these differences sufficient to cause my problem, and if I buy a directional cable of the same gauge do you think it will work? What does it mean for the cable to be directional?

    Thanks for any help, this blog gave me hope that I can actually repair this without opening walls up, I really want to see it work!

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  9. Lee,

    I hope we can get you up and running with this repair.

    Considering all that you wrote, my best advice to repair your cable would be to purchase the EXACT SAME cable, at whatever the price, and then do the repair.

    The color differences of the single lines shouldn't be an issue as long as they stay with their paired lines. But...

    Changes in gauge of the wire is definitely an issue. The gauge of wire used is dependent on the length of the wire. Smaller gauge wire can be used on shorter runs, but without additional engineering (chips/electronics) typically, the gauge must be larger for longer runs.

    I say "without additional engineering" and what I mean is that there ARE directional cables that are being engineered with chips in the connection end or electronics within a bundle somewhere along the run. While some "directional" cables will work in either direction, others will not. In the case of Monoprice cables a chip is embedded in each end of the cable. This chip allows for the utilization of smaller gauge wires even on a longer run. These, in particular, are directional and must be installed in the correct direction. The arrows must point to your HDTV from your source. If your direction within the wall is not initially correct, you'll have to open the walls. Sorry!

    I hope this helps. Let me know how it goes and God bless your effort.

    Highdefjeff

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  10. After almost a year my builder just finished my dream house. The builder was very flexible and after the framing was complete and windows, door and electric completed he let me have two weeks to do my low voltage wiring and put in the central vac. I persuaded three fiends and my wife to help.

    In order to get the best price I purchased all my supplies ahead of time on eBay. In all it was about 7 miles of wiring. The plan was to run dual cat6a, HDMI, and fiber to everywhere we may had a TV and multiple dual CAT6A to every room. We also pre wired for whole house audio and security alarm and cameras throughout. I even designed in a central 8 x 8 foot "server" room where everything was going to be terminated. I even purchased Liquidtite conduit to run to the end of the dock which is 1,000 feet away (a future project).

    It was a lot more work than I expected and I underestimated the technical capability of several of my "team" so after a week I had to hire three electricians to help. It still took another two weeks, three weeks total.

    I thought I was set. The house was suppose to take nine-months but ending up taking almost a year. We had already committed to hosting a charity event not realizing the house would be delayed. So one week after our furniture arrived we hosted the charity event for over 300 guests. It was a lot of work and stress but we ended up raising over $25k for a local woman's shelter.

    In getting ready for the event I asked our electrician to conceal a bunch of wires which were run for the outside veranda/pool area. Eventually the outdoor TV will cover them up. He did a great job and had temporally but up a 6 x 6 x 6 inch box. He had cut off the wires so they would all be the same length. After he left I looked and fount he had cut off the ends of the HDMI and toslink cables. I felt like I was going to throw up. This particular run of cables went through a part of attic which was no longer accessible and then through a conduit under concrete of the veranda to the outside entertainment area. The HDMI was the kind designed for longer runs.

    Until today I thought there was no fix for the problem but this blog gives me some hope I may be able to repair the HDMI cable. I will let you know if I am successful.

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  11. So if I understand correctly, you're using 11 UR connectors to fix an HDMI wire? That must look like a hot mess. Registration is required to see the pics at that forum so it would help to post pics here too.

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  12. I used this, it worked great from my cable box to a digital projector, but no matter what I do it won't work from my bloody sony receiver...stupid princess receiver (works fine with a direct line across the floor to the projector). I will keep fiddling with the connections, maybe covering them in even more aluminum foil and electrical tape with help. (I know it won't but arrrrgggg....)

    Cheers though. Guess i will be fishing a cable after all.

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  13. HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI are all digital standards used for High Definition video signals. DVI & DisplayPort (V1) solely carry the video-image signal but no audio, where as HDMI covers each. Therefore if you employ a DVI or DisplayPort (V1) cable, you'll need to connect audio cables from your DVD-player, CPU, games console or cable/satellite receiver to your TV.

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