llemarie’s weblog

Programming, tinkering – Lionel Lemarié

Project: Wired to wireless headphones

Posted by llemarie on September 29, 2007

The aim of this project was to get a decent pair of wireless headphones, without breaking the piggy bank. I’m talking decent, as in comfortable, good bass, good treble, good listening distance, battery lasts all day, etc… Not decent as in you think you can recognise the tune if you concentrate hard to ignore the hiss and bend your head towards the emitter – I got a £80 pair of Sony RF headphones like that for free from work a few years ago, I felt ripped off.

More recently, I bought a pair of behind-the-head Logitech Bluetooth headphones which were of reasonable quality, but not great. The ear pieces were pretty uncomfortable with my glasses too. The last drop was when the band snapped, like it did for many others.

There was nothing for it, if I wanted some decent sound and comfort, my trusty pair of £10 Sony padded headphones seemed the only way to go, but the long wire was driving me mad. So I started working on… the Frankenheadphones!

Ingredients:

A pair of El-Cheapo Tesco-Value headphones for the looks. They’re nice and black, and sit nicely on the head. They’re a bit tight so you can mosh without losing them too. Perfect. Awful quality, squeaky, rattly, quiet – but not to worry!

The Logitech Bluetooth headphones with the snapped headband.

My trusty Sony padded headphones – good sound quality, loud, deep bass! Perfect for techno, rock, classical. Sucks for rap music, but that’s not a hardware problem.

Preparation:

It took a while to get this project working. I started several months ago and slowly progressed through the different stages. First I opened the Logitech headphones. I was as subtle as a toddler with a mallet and tore the plastic to pieces and made a mess of it. I liberated the PCB Bluetooth module intact though and got it working on the speakers outside of the case. That’s where I made my first mistake: I unsoldered all the wires (having made diagrams, that was fine), and the charging connector which was too big to fit in and I intended to replace. But then I didn’t have the right tips for the solder iron to solder small wires to the very small contacts on the board. After a lot of hassle I manage to get some wires to stick solidly to the contacts. That was my second mistake. We’ll get back to that.

I then opened the Tesco headphones, removed the stereo wire and stuffed the Bluetooth module in there, the large battery, ripped the surface-mount on/off switch and soldered a couple of wires to a switch screwed in to the side of the case (through the hole of the stereo wire to hide it, cunning!), soldered the speakers and tried it. It worked! So far so good.

Then I took apart the trusty Sony padded headphones, got the good speakers out, fitted them in the Tesco case in place of the rubbish ones which I dremeled out, held them in place with obligatory duct tape, fitted the padding on the ear pieces and closed the thing back together.

It worked! For a whole 30 minutes I enjoyed high quality wireless music with padded comfort. Then the battery ran out and the second mistake I mentioned bit me in the derriere. The wires soldered to the board to charge the battery were not protected enough and I must have pulled a little too hard while plugging them in and the wires came out… with a piece of the PCB still attached!

Ruined! After all that. The project was ruined. No matter what I tried, the board was beyond repair, I just could not charge the battery anymore.

Luckily I was able to procure a replacement pair of broken Logitech headphones from a colleague in exchange for sushi. I could then open the headphones a lot more carefully this time by unscrewing the case instead of ripping it apart. I did not unsolder the charging connector and decided to fit the board in the headphones with the cumbersome connector instead. Put it all back together, tested, closed it. Tested. Charged it. Took it to work.

Victory! I’ve been using them all day and they are very comfortable, excellent quality, easy to charge, lasted all day. The only problem I had is that the charging LED is not visible so I cannot tell when they are finished charging; I might have to remedy that.

I’ve already bought my next wireless victim: Motorola HT820 + PC850 usb adapter, $30. I need to find the good quality headphones to take apart now.

See the pictures on flickr.

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49 Responses to “Project: Wired to wireless headphones”

  1. [...] Project: Wired to wireless headphones – Link [...]

  2. [...] Project: Wired to wireless headphones – Link [...]

  3. [...] Project: Wired to wireless headphones – Link [...]

  4. RDAC said

    Try out a pair of Koss Pro4AAT’s. I have two sets and they rock for the editing work I do, probably work for you as well. Plus, you can find them for around $65, and they have a great warranty on them. If I remember right, $5 plus postage will get them fixed if you screw them up, but I thinks that your project might not be covered (doesn’t matter really, the only problem I ever had out of them was my dumb self running over the cable repeatedly with my chair…long cables are sometimes too good of a thing).

  5. [...] Project: Wired to wireless headphones – Link [...]

  6. robtsou said

    Nice project. Instead of taking apart 2 sets of headphones, you could try using hearing protectors. I’ve made several sets of headphones this way and they work pretty well. You may want to avoid using the low profile ones as there isn’t a huge amount of space in the earpieces. Another nice thing about them is they’re pretty sturdy and block a lot of ambient noise so the output of your drivers doesn’t have to be as high. I just uploaded these pics if you want to see how I do mine. I use a mini-stereo to RCA cable to listen to mine. http://www.flickr.com/photos/robtsou/sets/72157602246499555/

  7. [...] Mais um artigo sobre fone de ouvido. Este mostra como usar peças de três fones de ouvidos diferentes e construir um bom fone, com Bluetooth. Está, como de costume, em inglês — e não há muitas fotos do processo, mas quem tem coragem de abrir e modificar dispositivos não terá problemas em seguir o artigo. [...]

  8. ZapWiz said

    I did the exact same thing with my logitech headphones.
    I transplanted them into a pair of Sennheisers.

  9. [...] Project: Wired to wireless headphones – Link [...]

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  18. [...] Project: Wired to wireless headphones « llemarie’s weblog Filed under: Project Research   |   [...]

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  25. [...] to do something similar, head on down to the read link to hear how it’s done.[Via MAKE] Read | Permalink | Email this | CommentsOffice Depot Featured Gadget: Xbox 360 Platinum System Packs the [...]

  26. dariusve said

    I think to exactly the same, with my old Jensen Open ear Headphones and my $100 IOGear bluetooth headphones that not survives it’s first contact with the floor.

    I only need a good batery to replace the stock one that last only 8 hours….

    btw, I moved the old speakers to a new head band of a broken back the head, but that it’s another history….

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  39. Karel Jansens said

    You’re more than two years late for a scoop:

    http://eastep.blogspot.com/2005/06/bluetooth-headphone-upgrade.html

    Sheesh…

  40. [...] my original post for details about the [...]

  41. Sasha said

    You should be posting these things on Instructables

  42. haydenbech said

    Any chance of a tutorial showing how to do the same for a stereo?

  43. llemarie said

    Hi Haydenbech,

    It wouldn’t be too hard to make a ‘mic’ adaptor using the same principal:
    – Open the Logitech headphones.
    – Unsolder the wires on the drivers.
    – Solder them to a stereo 3.5mm jack.
    – Plug it in the mic input of your stereo.

    Lionel.

  44. angelisdarker said

    I was curious of instead of making one pair mod a blue tooth pcb to fit inside an altoids can that you can then keep in your pocket and plug in any pair of headphones into for variety. so sports ones for on the treadmill or high quality for gin and juice with some blues and such… i like versatility … but hey just an idea

    • Erik said

      I’ve been looking all over the internet to find something similar.
      Did anyone ever see a minijack to bluetooth connector?

      • llemarie said

        Hi Erik,

        There are a number of options. Personally, I use and like the Jabra BT3030. It’s only real downside for me is the relatively short battery life (8h in use, but more importantly 10 days when not in use), which means I always have to charge it before use.

        Hope this helps,
        Lionel.

  45. llemarie said

    @Angelisdarker,

    It sounds like a good idea. It doesn’t solve the original problem that was that I dislike wires, but it does give you the freedom to choose which headphones you use and disconnects you from the media source. It would be much simpler to make too!

    Regards,
    Lionel.

  46. Erik said

    @Llemarie,

    Just the thing I was looking for.
    Altough it turns out to be quite expensive, I might buy one of those (I didn’t expect it to have remote control for buttons, wich is a very nice feature).
    Do you happen to know some other brands that make these things, so I can compare them to each other?

    Thanks a lot

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