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Sleetah2000

Broken 1/4" plug. Innovative solution required for self-inflicted hardware problem

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After years of hobbying with rack gear, I'm experiencing a first-time dilemma.  While removing a pair of 1/4" inputs from my audio interface, I actually had the tip break off of the left input.  The situation is not a showstopper for me, because this truly is an optional pair of channels in my setup.  But after two days of ignoring this, it still does eat at my soul, thinking that I've made my interface less functional than it could/should be.  My hope in writing this, is that someone in the community has already developed a clever hack for this very problem.

I do have a few extraction implements that tempt me, from needle-nose pliers to pseudo forceps, and tweezers.  My concern with misusing any of these tools is the potential of introducing a short, where one does not currently exist.  The interface is long out of warranty, so I'm also free to pop the hood to get a closer look. 

Ideas? Anyone? Anyone?

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If I'm reading you correctly, the tip of one of your 1/4" plugs broke off, and is stuck inside a 1/4" jack in your interface?

If that's the case, open that bad boy up and see what type of 1/4" jacks its using (there's only a couple possibilities that everyone uses). If the jack is open in any way, you might be able to easily pull the tip out the other way (essentially pulling it all the way through the jack, rather than trying to pull it out the way it came in). Possibly pushing it out the back of the jack by inserting something thin and pointy (say, a wooden kitchen skewer, or a small screwdriver).

Worst case, if the jack is completely sealed and there doesn't seem any way to open it up to get the offending broken bit out of it, you could just desolder the jack and replace it entirely, with a new, less-broken-off-tip-inside-of-it jack.

I mean, the fact that the jack (apparently) ate one of your 1/4" plugs would seem to indicate that it's gone feral, and needs to be put down for the common good...

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You could also put a dab of superglue onto a thin metal rod, aim it carefully down the shaft of the socket, give it a moment to dry, and pull it out.

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I've had this happen to me twice - once on a headphone jack, and once on my old Yamaha AX44 interface.

On both occasions I failed to remove it from the front using precision tweezers or the superglue technique.

I ended up opening the units up and pushing the tip back towards the front, using a thin screwdriver pushed in from the back of the socket.

You only need to push it past the connector that's clamping it in - once it's past that, it should just fall out.

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Thanks for the experienced feedback, gentlemen.  These are all better suggestions than my initial plan of tweezing.

The possibility of pushing rather than pulling the tip through seems more prone to success for me.  I should have an opportunity to open up the interface over the weekend.

If the jack doesn't allow for a push through in either direction, I'll move to the "glue technique".  If it does come down to this, I don't necessarily trust my skills in the game of operation with a random rod, but I'm thinking about dabbing glue on the remaining portion of plug that did not break off.  I'm assuming the trick is to get the glue viscosity to where it absolutely will not drip, but is still capable of bonding.

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On 9/17/2020 at 6:57 PM, Sleetah2000 said:

I'm also free to pop the hood to get a closer look

This. Warranty considerations aside, you want to avoid pushing the loose tip further in past the jack and having it wind up loose inside the case. This is of course because it it is conductive metal and can cause a short circuit.

While the suggestion to push it out from the inside is a good one, it's possible that your jacks are mounted to the PCB and not open at the tip end. In this case, there would be no way to get an implement in there to push the piece out. If this is the case, one trick of mine is to take a sheet metal screw small enough in diameter and long enough for the tip to grip the inside of the broken-off piece, carefully insert it in the jack until you feel it make contact, then turn it clockwise just enough for the tip of the screw to hook the inside of the piece. Then pull the screw out slowly with the plug tip (we hope) stuck to the end of it.

If you want to try the adhesive route, a tiny blob of 5-minute 2-part epoxy would be my suggestion. Cyanoacrylate (Super/Krazy Glue) is unlikely to stick to shiny metal very well; the most reliable applications I've found for that stuff are guitar nut slot and finish repairs and gluing human fingers to each other.

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3 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

While the suggestion to push it out from the inside is a good one, it's possible that your jacks are mounted to the PCB and not open at the tip end. In this case, there would be no way to get an implement in there to push the piece out. If this is the case, one trick of mine is to take a sheet metal screw small enough in diameter and long enough for the tip to grip the inside of the broken-off piece, carefully insert it in the jack until you feel it make contact, then turn it clockwise just enough for the tip of the screw to hook the inside of the piece. Then pull the screw out slowly with the plug tip (we hope) stuck to the end of it.

On my AX44, the jack socket was a "sealed" socket soldered directly on the PCB.  Luckily the back of the socket was clipped on and could be easily removed and put back so I could push a screwdriver in:
image.png.04863bfd4fead1ad9b6bddc5b9ac22e3.png
 

3 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

If you want to try the adhesive route, a tiny blob of 5-minute 2-part epoxy would be my suggestion. Cyanoacrylate (Super/Krazy Glue) is unlikely to stick to shiny metal very well; the most reliable applications I've found for that stuff are guitar nut slot and finish repairs and gluing human fingers to each other.

The problem I had, is that the tip had actually snapped off, so it was a blunt end that was stuck.  The connector that clamps on the tip is pretty strong, which I guess is why it snapped in the first place. Cyanoacrylate didn't work at all. Epoxy resin did, but it just wasn't strong enough.
 

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