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Old 01-15-2007   #1
 
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Default Making RCA Cables

Figured I would do a down and dirty on making your own RCA cables. The process I show is how I made my cables but can be modified to suit your needs.

Here is pretty much everything I use to make the cables.

The cable is Canare star quad.
http://www.markertek.com/SearchProdu...ff=6&sort=prod
You can use this cable for both channel or as a single channel doubling up the conductors. It's a nice flexible cable that comes in many different colors to match just about any install.

RCA connectors from HomeGrownAudio
http://www.homegrownaudio.com/rca_connectors.htm
I find these to be well made locking connectors without breaking the bank (WBT). I would stay away from anything you have to crimp. I can always desolder these and use them for other applications in the future.

Solder, Techflex, and heat shrink from Partsexpress. I like to use silver solder due to the increased strength it provides. It does take a iron that gets hot.

Most cheap irons will not get hot enough. If you have one of those just use regular lead/tin solder. Don't worry about the "sonic" difference between silver and regular solder.

I use razor blades like they are going out of style. I do all my striping with one. And I still have most of my finger tips .

The first think you want to due is cut the cable to the length you need. Then you need to figure out how much of the outer jacket to cut.


Make sure to just cut down to the shield. You don't want to go through it and cut the conductors.

Next peel back the shield. I like to use a pick to pull it apart. Then use either a pair of small Wire cutters or scissors to cut the shield flush with the jacket. The shield can be connected along with the ground conductor on one or both ends. It seems the preferred method is to attach the shield to the ground at the source end of the cable.



Next you want to cut the conductor jacket to length. This is the part that takes the most patience and practice to get it right. If you cut the conductor to much just start over. If you cut your finger put a band-aid on it. Then twist the conductors together and tin. I use the white as signal and blue as ground. Some say that the dye used for the blue degrades the signal. I don't buy it but to be safe I use the white as signal anyway.



Now I add the Techflex and heat shrink. I just use a pair of scissors to cut it. If you put it on right away and put the heatshrink on it does come apart and is cleaner than using a hot knife. The connectors I use don't have markings for left and right, so I use different color heat shrink.


Next I put the Wire in the connector and solder. Signal (white) goes to the center and ground (blue) goes to the outside. It looks like poop in these pictures but it is a good joint.



Then the barrel goes on and it's all done.


There many variations you can do with different wire and connectors.

Last edited by NaamanF; 01-16-2007 at 06:58 AM..
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Old 01-15-2007   #2
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

looks easy enough. how much do you figure a short length of RCA would cost dto do yourself (for just the connectors and wire)?

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Old 01-15-2007   #3
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

The connector is the expensive part. Figure about $.40-$.80 per foot for the wire. About $7 for 25' of Techflex. Maybe $.50 for heat shrink. The RCA ends run anywhere from $.50 to $48 for hight end WBTs.
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Old 01-15-2007   #4
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

great walkthrough naaman! always nothing but the best from you!

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Old 01-15-2007   #5
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Do you have issues with the shield? Is it hooked up on at least one end to make it a SHIELD? Are you aware that even with "twisted pair" theory (only with balanced) that Canare Star quad is not at all "twisted pair?"

The star quad just got negated to 16GA Speaker cable, a hap-hazard twist, and a big radio antenna wrapped around it (not saying that that does not work)

Use the shield for unbalanced cionnections, use ONE conductor, use the remaining conductors for more amps.

Star Quad is MICROPHONE cable for STAGE USE, it is overrated for consumer use but great on a stage when you need redundancy and ruggedness. No reason to have it in a Car unless you need to shove 4 ch's of audio down a 1/4"

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Old 01-16-2007   #6
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

I don't have any problems with the shielding. I mentioned connecting the shield at the beginning but left it out for simplicity. I originally bough the cable to be used as a stereo pair per run of wire.
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Old 01-16-2007   #7
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

An excellent, well written post. Thank you!

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Old 01-16-2007   #8
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Inded,one of the many excellent and educational threads available in DIY in regards to 'How to". Thanks, because of it i'll be giving it a shot one day.

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Old 01-16-2007   #9
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Excellent tutorial NaamanF
I have built many of my own RCAs using a similar technique (no silver solder however)but I just used a cheap Beldon Cat cable (part # 8760) that has 1 pair of twisted 18g and a shield. I do as you mention solder the shielding to the ground but I don't know what difference it makes as I don't have anything to reference it against? That jacketing you used looks pretty snazzy where do you buy that?
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Old 01-16-2007   #10
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sr SQ
Excellent tutorial NaamanF
I have built many of my own RCAs using a similar technique (no silver solder however)but I just used a cheap Beldon Cat cable (part # 8760) that has 1 pair of twisted 18g and a shield. I do as you mention solder the shielding to the ground but I don't know what difference it makes as I don't have anything to reference it against? That jacketing you used looks pretty snazzy where do you buy that?
I think he said he got the heatshrink and techflex from parts express.

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Old 01-16-2007   #11
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

any negatives to running both L and R channel down the one run of cable?

also, I have been looking @ RCA connectors but the good ones are QUITE expensive. Can anyone recomend a GOOD connector to use for around a couple buck a a piece?
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Old 01-16-2007   #12
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Opps
My bad I missed that part
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Old 01-16-2007   #13
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by illnastyimpreza
any negatives to running both L and R channel down the one run of cable?
I'd like to know this as well. Is doubling up necessary?

Quote:
Originally Posted by illnastyimpreza
also, I have been looking @ RCA connectors but the good ones are QUITE expensive. Can anyone recomend a GOOD connector to use for around a couple buck a a piece?
Partsexpress has some decent looking ones in that price range.

http://www.partsexpress.com/webpage....up_ID=125&SO=2

These P3 ones look pretty good, $10 for 4 of them.


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Old 01-16-2007   #14
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

I had originally planned to use the Wire for both left and right. It should work out just fine. As far as the ends I would stay away from the really cheap ones. Try here..
http://www.partsexpress.com/webpage....ctGroup_ID=125

Also take into account the opening in the connector and the size of the Wire with the Techflex and heat shrink.
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Old 01-31-2007   #15
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by chad
Star Quad is MICROPHONE cable for STAGE USE, it is overrated for consumer use but great on a stage when you need redundancy and ruggedness. No reason to have it in a Car unless you need to shove 4 ch's of audio down a 1/4"

Chad
I followed the link he provided and I found Star Quad mic cable AND signal cable. Is their signal cable the same as their mic cable.
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Old 03-29-2007   #16
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

On the other hand, if you use it for TWO channels (instead of four) using its' pretwisted pairs you will have an near audiophile cable. The cable is renowned for more than its' durability as a mic cable.
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Old 03-29-2007   #17
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard View Post
On the other hand, if you use it for TWO channels (instead of four) using its' pretwisted pairs you will have an near audiophile cable. The cable is renowned for more than its' durability as a mic cable.
Starquad does not have twisted pairs, it's all twisted together in there.

Here's a durability testimonial.....

I watched a roadie drag a 328Lb Speaker (on wheels) across the quad. The quad caught and got dragged close to 50 feet pinched between the caster and the floor attempting to do the duty of a pencil eraser to the floor. The cable came out missing a bit of jacket but not into the sheild, it performs flawlessly. That same poor cable (thankfully that one out of the multitude that I have) got somehow crushed in a case lid and cut into. I dissected the "pencil eraser" section to find the conductors perfectly situated as they should be with no deformation. Good shit. Now it's 2 short mic cables

Still don't use it in a Car though, I run permanent install grade audio cable, single pair, 100% foil shield, and C-H-E-A-P!

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Old 03-29-2007   #18
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

So, correct me if I'm wrong, you should connect the shielding only on one end? The shield connects to where that little allen screw is?
Chad: Where do you get that permanent install cable from?
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Old 03-29-2007   #19
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

You can use the twisted blue and white pairs together (to make four) and use the shield as a ground, or the blue and white twisted pairs separately for hot and ground (two each). I chose the latter method for my home stereo interconnects and floated the shield by connecting it only to the source. High end audio cable for the Car is very expensive and the Star Quad is an excellent option. I consider it a much better choice than mid-grade interconnects. Neutric makes excellent RCA plugs without going exotic.

Regards,
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Old 03-29-2007   #20
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by solacedagony View Post
So, correct me if I'm wrong, you should connect the shielding only on one end? The shield connects to where that little allen screw is?
Chad: Where do you get that permanent install cable from?
In a balanced sutuation it's 50/50 as to if you attach the shield at both ends. Mic cables always have them attached so phantom Power has a drain potential. At balanced line level it's not needed and some studio designers want one end lifted or cap coupled for RFI only drain.

Un balanced you will most likely need both ends attached, I have seen very few occasions where a lifted signal ground (shield) helps S/N in unbalanced situations and this us usually in situations where the equipment is closely racked and grounded to the rack. In a Car I find it to HAVE to be connected at both ends 99.99999% of the time. In an unbalanced connection it's needed for ground reference instead of relying on vehicle chassis integrity to maintain that ground balance. Ecpecially with the non-standard design of grounded /VS/ Floating I/O configurations.

So for a short answer.... Hook it up on both ends. Lift if you need to.

Install cable can be had directly from the maker, or often times from a professional A/V house in your area. For example I go to an A/V house and can get it cheaper new than ordering it from gepco since they have GOBS of it in a myriad of colors and get it at quantity discounts. Become friends with these folks (I am a contract worker and former employee for the one I go to ) I often times ask to rummage thru the "pull remnant" box for all my patch cords. During big pulls they will almost always have leftovers, sometimes up to 20' on a long pull. I usually can walk away with what I need for a project for free or next to nothing. The cost is merely for connectors (actually far from merely on a big project)

Chad

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Old 03-29-2007   #21
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard View Post
You can use the twisted blue and white pairs together (to make four) and use the shield as a ground, or the blue and white twisted pairs separately for hot and ground (two each). I chose the latter method for my home stereo interconnects and floated the shield by connecting it only to the source.

Good job! Very acceptable for unbalanced connections!

Chad

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Old 03-29-2007   #22
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

So this would be an acceptable cable? I was thinking of getting the star quad because then I could keep left and right together but I think I just rather run them separately.
http://www.markertek.com/SearchProdu...f=33&sort=prod

Edit: Also, for whoever was looking for the cheap RCA ends. Markertek has the same Neutrik ones as PE, except cheaper. (http://www.markertek.com/SearchProdu...f=16&sort=prod)

Last edited by solacedagony; 03-29-2007 at 10:43 AM..
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Old 03-29-2007   #23
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by solacedagony View Post
So this would be an acceptable cable? I was thinking of getting the star quad because then I could keep left and right together but I think I just rather run them separately.
http://www.markertek.com/SearchProdu...f=33&sort=prod

Edit: Also, for whoever was looking for the cheap RCA ends. Markertek has the same Neutrik ones as PE, except cheaper. (http://www.markertek.com/SearchProdu...f=16&sort=prod)
I am sure those would work fine but they are 16ga and a bit over kill. You also have to order it 50ft at a time. If you do order from Markertek make sure you order everything you need because they get you a bit for shipping.
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Old 03-29-2007   #24
 
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

If you live in a major city you will probably find the cable at most electronics supply outlets. Not Radio Shack though. I thinks it comes in several colours but you'll likely only find black. If you're running parallel cables you can use a Wire loom or tech flex with ties.

Excellent explanation on "unbalanced connections" and I agree with your RX regarding auto vs. stage/home needs. Belden also makes a very high-end mic cable but I don't know what it's called. I encourage you to avoid anything but high-end cable because if you can hear a difference during recording (and often on stage) you'll hear a difference on playback....but ONLY on a high-end system. Like a home system, you can easily undermine the quality of your components with budget cable just as easily as spending too much on cables for a mediocre system.
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Old 03-29-2007   #25
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Default Re: Making RCA Cables

Shhhhhhhh, wrong forum

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