This video is a followup to Soldering Guitar Cables which goes more in-depth on the basics of soldering.
In this video, Mike will teach you:
- The differences between male and female connectors
- How an XLR cable is made
- How to properly solder it yourself
Once logged in, you will be able to click on those chapter titles and jump around in the video.
- 00:00 - Start
- 01:08 - Before Getting Started
- 02:10 - Reusing a Connector
- 03:19 - About Pins
- 04:25 - Stripping the Cable
- 08:19 - The Soldering
Hey guys! How you doing? I'm Mike.
I'm gonna show you how to solder an XLR cable.
In my last video, I showed you some of the basics of soldering and how to tell the difference between a good solder and a bad solder.
If you haven't seen it, you should go check it out because it talks about some of the fundamental aspects of soldering that you might need to know if you're gonna watch this video.
I highly suggest you go over there and look at that, and then come back and revisit this one.
As a side note, some of you made some comments on the last video about the fact that I say the word "salder" as opposed to the word "solder." I know it's spelled "solder", but I happen to be from New York and that's the way we say it round here.
Don't ask me why, I have no idea.
If you saw my last video, you should already be familiar with the tools that I'm using: a vise, and a soldering iron.
The first thing I'm gonna show you is the XLR connector.
It's very important to be mindful of whether you're doing a male or a female.
The reason for this is because male and female XLR connectors have a different configuration of the pins in the connector.
But the principle of how to make them is still the same.
Before we get started, there's a couple of things we need to put on our cable.
The first one is a piece of heat shrink that has our logo printed on it.
This is totally optional, we're just doing this for fun, and so that our cables are branded and nobody accidentally walks away with them.
Second thing we're gonna put on is the backshell to the XLR connector.
This is very important, because if you saw my last video, you remember how much I stressed this: at some point in your life, you're gonna be soldering a cable and you're gonna get to the end and realize you forgot to put the backshell on, and you're gonna be really upset with yourself.
So do yourself a favor and do it now, before you forget.
Last thing we're gonna put on is another piece of shrink.
This is also sort of optional, but I like to do it just to be thorough.
All this really does is tighten down the cable a little bit and hold all the individual wires in place.
You don't really need it, but I like to do it.
This particular XLR connector was already used in another cable.
I'm gonna take it and put it in my vise, and show you how we can make it as good as new so that we can use it for a new cable.
Here you can see the back of our connector.
You can see that our pins already have solder on them from when this was on an old cable.
What we want to do is we want to put some new solder in there to make our new connections nice and clean and strong.
What we're gonna do is we're gonna heat up the cups and we're gonna let the old solder melt, and then we're gonna put just enough solder on the cups to fill it up.
You want to keep in mind that you don't want to overfill the cups with solder.
You want just enough solder to fill them, but not enough so that it's overflowing.
This is so that you can make the best connection possible with the wire.
So we're gonna heat our other cups here.
Alright. And now we're all tinned up.
The next thing we're gonna do is take a look at the back of the connector and show you where the different numbers for the different pins are.
The reason we're looking at this is because, like I said before, male and female connectors have different configurations.
When you're soldering, you always want to make sure that you've got the right wire going to the correct terminal.
On this connector, you can't see it that well because it has been used before, but there's a little number 1 underneath this pin, a little number 2 underneath this pin, and a little number 3 underneath this one.
The good news is you don't have to memorize that because it's written right there on the connector.
If you're ever in doubt, you can look at the connector and check what the number is.
I do suggest that you do check if you're ever in doubt because sometimes you can get confused when you're going back and forth between male and female connectors, and you might forget which pin is where.
It's always better to be safe and look.
But there is one thing you do have to memorize, which is what wire goes to what pin.
And XLRs are always the same.
Pin 1 is the shield.
Pin 2 is the hot conductor, and pin 3 is the cold conductor.
Since you have to memorize it, I'll say it again.
Shield is pin 1.
Hot is pin 2, and cold is pin 3.
Now I'm gonna show you how to prep the cable.
The next step is to strip back our cable.
If you saw my last video, you remember that I like to use a razor blade to strip back my cables.
I also like to use the razor blade to measure how far I'm gonna strip back.
I'm gonna use the height of my razor blade as my measurement for my strip back.
I'm gonna come here and cut it.
This cable has a braided shield which we're gonna have to unbraid so that we can twist it into a wire that we can solder onto pin 1 of our connector.
Not all cables have a braided shield, some just have a regular shield wire.
So you might come across different things.
The bottom line is a shield wire has to go to pin 1, and it has to be twisted into a wire.
I like to use a small screwdriver to do this.
You can use anything that gets the job done, but it takes a little while, so we're gonna fast-forward through it.
So now we're done unbraiding the shield. Now we have to twist it into a wire.
Now that we have a twisted shield wire, we're gonna expose our hot and our cold wires by cutting away all of the extra stuff they put in the cable to keep it round.
This cable happens to have string in there and we're just gonna cut it away.
So here we have the hot, the cold, and the shield.
This particular cable happens to have blue for hot and white for cold, but your cable might have something different.
Generally speaking, most cables are gonna have a white/black or a clear for the cold wire, and some sort of color for the hot wire.
The next thing I want to do is to put a piece of heat shrink over the shield wire, the reason being this protects it, and keeps it from getting shorts, and from corrosion, and it definitely prolongs the life of your cable.
Obviously, whenever you use heat shrink, you need a heat source to shrink it down.
I'm just gonna use a portable butane torch.
You don't want to hold it on too long and melt the shrink, or the other cables.
But you want to keep it long enough that it shrinks down nice and tight over the shield wire.
Don't hold it for too long in any one place.
The next thing we have to do is strip back our hot and our cold wires.
I'm gonna use my Stripax to do that, you could use just a regular cable stripper if you don't have one.
We want to make sure we don't strip them back too far, because we want as little wire exposed as possible.
The next thing we've got to do is tin our wires.
I'm gonna take the connector out of the vise and put the cable in the vise instead.
Ok. So we're gonna tin our wires and just like with the cups on the connector, we want to use as little solder as we can get away with.
So we just want to heat it briefly, and get a little bit on there.
We want to be especially careful not to put too much solder on the shield wire, because it's already thicker than the other two.
So we want to just put a nice, thin coat on there.
Ok! The next thing I want to do is just quickly trim the length of the shield wire a little bit so it has the same length as the hot and cold.
I'm just gonna hold it next to them and trim it to the same length.
Now we're ready to solder our connector.
I'm gonna take the cable out of the vise and put the connector back in there.
We remember from before that it's really important to pay attention to what wire we're soldering onto what pin.
We're gonna start with pin 1, because it's on my left hand side here.
And 1 is shield, 2 is hot, and 3 is cold.
So we're gonna solder the shield to pin 1.
If you saw our first soldering video, you should be able to tell the difference between a good solder and a bad solder.
So you should be able to do this and know whether you're doing it right or not.
Then we're gonna solder the hot wire onto pin 2.
And the cold wire onto pin 3.
And there you have a nice and clean solder.
The next thing we're gonna do is take the shrink that we put on earlier and slide it up over the three wires to protect them.
And then we take our torch, and shrink that down.
As I said before, that's not really necessary, but it definitely helps a little bit.
Now we're gonna put everything together.
We want to make sure that our stain relief is clamping down on the outer jacketing, and not on the inner wires.
So as you can see here, it's on the outer jacket.
I'm gonna take our backshell and slide it forward.
And screw everything together.
Now, we do have this little logo shrink, which is really just for fun, like I said.
Alright! There's our finished connector.
It's important to note that on the other end, when you're doing the female, you want to pay attention to where the numbers are on the pins, because the female is gonna have 1 and 2 in the opposite positions of where they were on the male connector.
This is because a female connector and a male connector are inversed from each other.
So you want to pay attention to that, and make sure that shield goes to 1, hot goes to 2, and cold goes to 3.
Alright, that should be it! Have a good one.
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