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What type of wire is copper wrapped around fluffy threads?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by max6166, Dec 18, 2017.

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  1. max6166


    Dec 18, 2017
    I am trying to fix my earbuds, but am unfamiliar with one of the wires. It consists of just a few very thin strands of red wire wrapped around a core of fluffy threads.

    What is this called and why is it done this way?

    The thing that confuses me most is that this wire runs right next to an uninsulated wire of copper strands. Wouldn't this cause to the wires to shortcircuit?

    Any info would be greatly appreciated. Googling has not proved helpful as I must be typing in the wrong search terms.
  2. AnalogKid


    Jun 10, 2015
  3. Audioguru


    Sep 24, 2016
    The red is enamel insulating paint. I don't know if heat or a solvent removes it from the ends for connections.
  4. max6166


    Dec 18, 2017
    Thank you both very much. There are only a few delicate strands of wire wrapped around the core. How does one solder this stuff? Last time, I carefully unraveled a few strands, twisted them, and soldered those to the connector. Is there a better way?
  5. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    It's called tinsel wire and is intended for crimp connections, not soldered connections. Lots more information at this Google results page.

    Tinsel wire is similar to Litz wire. Litz wire consists of individually insulated strands of round wire, usually woven to make a larger diameter cable for radio-frequency coil-winding purposes. Tinsel wire usually consists of thin and narrow flat strands of varnish-insulated copper wrapped around a cloth core that provides mechanical support and lends flexibility to the cord. Litz wire can be conventionally soldered if the insulation from individual strands is removed, typically with a chemical solvent.

    Tinsel wire is designed to be crimped, but careful soldering (for repair purposes) IS possible. The soldered connection should be mechanically strain-relieved AWAY from the solder joint, for example with a blob of RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanizing) cement. Again, as with Litz wire, any insulating varnish must be carefully removed before soldering is attempted. Might be easier to just replace the earbuds with a new pair.
    davenn likes this.
  6. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009

    It isn't Litz wire, which is a totally different thing and for a totally different purpose as you link shows

    @hevans1944 is spot on with his comments :)
  7. max6166


    Dec 18, 2017
    Yes, tinsel wire is what it is. Thanks for the link and name.

    I simply enjoy fixing things when I can, even when it doesn't make economical sense. ;)

    In cheap earbuds, they usually just tie a knot in the wire to strain-relieve it against the hole in the earpiece.

    One of the links mentions heating the wires on top of an aspirin to remove the insulation.

    Thanks again.
  8. Minder


    Apr 24, 2015
    I found that the heat from an iron melts the covering and burns off the 'tinsel' I repaired one that way just recently.
  9. FuZZ1L0G1C


    Mar 25, 2014
    A butane 'BIC' type cigarette lighter flame flicked over the end 5mm or so 'flashes' the shellac, but hold near end with fingers to prevent igniting entire length.
    Then clean carbonised shellac with folded scrap of emery paper or kitchen-sink 'zim' pad.
    Basically - clean, bare copper ends.
    For easier soldering, when I've repaired headphone / mike cables, found that a single thin copper strand pulled from electrical rip-cord helps to bunch stray strands, and allows resin-core solder to 'take' better.
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