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Old 21st September 2006, 03:01 PM   #1
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Default ssabripo's DIY Interconnect cables: $200 cables for 1/10 th the cost!

I've been doing these cables for a couple of years now for myself and many audio friends and family, so rather than keep explaining the procedure one on one, I've decided to post it here for you boys and girls. These interconnect cables are about the best quality you can get south of silver cables, and you wont have to sell your Pre/Pro to get them! hehehe.

Materials/Tools:

some of the tools you will need:
1) Coax Stripper: Canare TS-5C $60 or TS-100E $99 (http://www.markertek.com/SearchProdu...=TS100E&off=68)
2) Crimp Handle: Parts Express # 360-680 $15
3) Wire Stripper and cutter
4) exacto knife or blade knife
5) scissors
6) Heat gun
Click the image to open in full size. (click to enlarge)

Your materials will consist of:
1) Belden 89259 cable: the dielectric, the teflon, and the quality of copper used in this wire makes it a prime candidate for high-end cables. The outer diameter of the 89259 center conductor (.030 in.) and the nominal core OD (.135 in, also called the insulator OD) make this cable also very easy to handle.
Click the image to open in full size.

2) Canare RCAP-C4F die: this is one of the best bang for buck caps for cable endings. Gold plated ends, extremely low impedance material, and best of all, the perfect fit for the Belden 89259 cable.

3a) Techflex 3/8" Sleeving: This will make your cables look as good as they sound, while protecting the cable from cuts, etc. After all, you dont put cheap Goodyear's on your Porsche, do you?
3b) Belden 9259 cable: As an alternate, I've used belden 9259 cable to strip the outer mesh from it, and use that as the sleeving: it looks nicer, it protects better, and since it is non-plastic nor rubber, it has less issues with heat, etc. This is my sleeving of choice, but it is a lot of work, and most people are content when they go with option 3a.

4) 19mm HeatShrink : This is very important, as it will not only protect the ends, but keep everything tidy! You can also use 5/8" heatshrink if needed.

5) Electrical tape.
Click the image to open in full size.


Construction:

Step1
Cut the desired length of Belden 89259 cable you will be using; in this example, I have used a 3ft length per cable, and constructed 5 of them (for interconnects between the Pre/Pro and amplifier). I suggest you cut all the lengths at once. Before you start cutting, place your scissors onto the stove to heat up...you will need that for step 2 in a couple of minutes.

Step2
Once done, Cut the Techflex in the same length of the cables minus 2.5inches (so if your cable was exactly 3ft, your techflex will be 2ft -9.5in). The techflex is expandable so you want to be able to pull it a little to mesh with the thickness of the cable. You will have to cut this with a hot scissor! do NOT use a regular scissors or knifes, as you will most likely start to untangle the braid of the techflex and it will be a nightmare to fix!

If you are using option 3b, and are gonna be using Belden 9259, you will have to cut the length equal to the length of the Belden 89259 (step1) minus 1.5 inches. With an exacto knife or box cutters, lightly cut the outer covering of the 9259, and remove. The Gently pull the mesh out and keep it aside.

Step3
With the TS-100E or equivalent stripper, strip the 89259 cable for about 1.2 inches. The rule of thumb I use is that I measure the cable from where the lettering on the Canare RCAP-C4F starts until its end, and then use that as my measuring stick to get exact. You will need to adjust your stripper so that doesn't cut thru the outer mesh and the telfon. Leave about 1/4" length of the inner core wire to stick out, as this is what you will use to crimp the pin on. Pull back the outer mesh gently to the side (creating an umbrella). Your wire should look like this:
Click the image to open in full size.

Step4
With the Crimper (shown above in orange), crimp on the small pin onto the inner core, and then try it to make sure it's not lose. Then proceed to gently push it onto the outer cap....you should hear a slight click. Once there, use the scissors to trim the outer mesh so that it fits just flush with the lower part of the cap. Give it a nice haircut...don't leave any strands dangling outside as it will look not only ugly, but could cause shorts.
Click the image to open in full size.

Step5
Slide the center crimp jacket flush with the cap body, and make sure everything is in place. Don't push hard enough as it could push the small pin out of place. With the crimp handle, proceed to crimp the jacket. You should now look like:
Click the image to open in full size.
(notice the one little strand of wire sticking out? with a razor blade or exacto knife, make sure you clean all of that out!)
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Old 21st September 2006, 03:02 PM   #2
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Step5
Pull the techflex through your wire, and leave it half way from the crimped jacket. You will be using electrical tape to keep it in place until you heatshrink wrap it, thus you need the tape to stick to the metal jacket to hold the techflex in place (ditto if you are using the Belden 9259 as the outer sleeving). Tape the sleeving onto the jacket, but do NOT use too much...a small piece of tape just to hold it in place should be plenty:
Click the image to open in full size.

Step6
Cut a piece of heatshrink of about 2-3" long (or enough to cover from the end of the CAP where the jacket was crimped to, until you cover the electrical tape). With a heat gun, apply the heatshrink so that it will hold everything in place. Make sure you do not keep the heatgun against the techflex sleeving, as it will melt it:
Click the image to open in full size.

Step7
So you are now DONE with one side, so pay attention: make sure you put another piece of heatshrink and the Canare Crimp Jacket from step5 on the other end!! Most people I've showed this to undoubtedly forget to do this and end up having to redo one side because they forgot to put the jacket or the heatshrink in before they started to strip the wire on the other end!!
Repeat steps 3-6, and you are done!


So there you have it folks....you have now made yourself cables that have better transfer than Monster(crap) M950i cables or the Tributaries SCA 150 cables. I've played with this cable against several Kimber Cables as well such as their "Hero" series and it blew it out of the water. The only cable that I've been able to use under $500 that sounded as good (slightly better actually) were the Panther DBS Interconnect cables ($525/pr) , and that outta put these in perspective for you!
Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.

You can play with different color sleeving from techflex, or different heatshrink colors to separate each channel, etc. For example, if you had chosen option 3a and used the Belden 9259, you would have looked like this:
Click the image to open in full size.


Hope this helps some of you, and enjoy!!

ps- more pics found at http://community.webshots.com/user/ssabripo
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Old 26th October 2006, 01:35 AM   #3
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Just wanted to say thanks a lot for posting this! It's great to see how a "professional" DIY cable is put together.

This will be my weekend project :-)

Andrew.
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Old 26th October 2006, 02:33 PM   #4
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no problem...enjoy!

ps- here is the link to the main speaker cable tutorial too:
ssabripo's DIY Speaker cables Tutorial (cat5e based): Audiophile wires on the cheap!
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