The Raspberry Pi has no audio input, and I had a pair of Logitech USB headphones that had gone faulty – the earth on the headset was a dis. The USB part seemed to work, but headphones live on borrowed time, connectors and wiring tend to go, and everything is sealed, So I wondered if I could reuse the circuit board as a Pi soundcard. Stereo output but mono on record, of course, but still useful. It’s all part of experimenting to make a low-cost audio field recorder that can start by itself. Nothing is designed to be repairable here, so the plastic USB module case was pinged apart with a flat-bladed screwdriver. Initially I wondered if the black stuff was a blown capacitor, but it was on both sides of the board so I figured it was probably glue from the connector, which was confirmed when I unsoldered the connectors, it came off like a gluey film.
Headphone cable uses fine strands of individually enamel insulated wires wrapped around a synthetic fibre core. The good thing about this is your headphone cable breaks later than if you used normal multi-strand audio cable, given all the flexing it has to take. The bad thing about it is it’s the devil’s own job to solder, because as you heat the strand the synthetic coating melts, robbing you of heat and re-insulating the enamel you’ve burned off. So I unsoldered the existing cable and threw it out, and soldered a stereo jack plug for the headphones and a phono line socket for the microphone. I then extracted the original microphone capsule from the headset and soldered it to a phono socket just to test this out in the original circuit conditions. Continue reading