Archive for May 30th, 2012

Lenovo Headset Boom: Repair Faceplant

I picked up a Lenovo headset on sale and over the course of a few weeks the mic boom pivot worked itself loose, until I finally dismantled the left ear cup to see what was inside. Come to find out that the mic boom has a molded threaded section held into the cup with a simple nut and no locking mechanism at all:

Lenovo headset - OEM mic boom pivot nut

Lenovo headset – OEM mic boom pivot nut

I think the metal washer was intended as a low-friction pivot atop the compliant silicone (?) washer underneath, but the net effect was that the nut unscrewed a little bit more every time the mic boom moved. By the time I got in there, the nut was completely off the threads.

The original nut left a thread or two showing, so I found a thicker replacement nut with a better grip. The obvious solution involves a dab of Loctite to jam the nut in position, but we all know that some plastics, most notably acrylic, react badly to threadlocker and tend to disintegrate. Although I considered just epoxying the nut in place, that seems so, well, permanent.

So I dutifully tested a dab of Loctite on an inconspicuous spot inside the ear cup, got no reaction at all, put a drop on the boom pivot threads, and reassembled everything:

Lenovo headset - replacement mic boom pivot nut

Lenovo headset – replacement mic boom pivot nut

Alas, by the time I got back upstairs and hung the mic on the rack, the boom fell completely out of the earcup! Back in the Basement Laboratory, I dismantled the thing again and confronted this mess:

Lenovo headset- Acrylic plastic vs. threadlock

Lenovo headset- Acrylic plastic vs. threadlock

Huh. The ear cup isn’t made of the same plastic as the mic boom: one shrugs off threadlock, the other disintegrates.

That’s obvious in retrospect, eh?

The only threads that aren’t ruined lie completely within the ear cup frame, with just a stub sticking up around the wire. So I cleaned things up and did what I should have done originally: put a dab of epoxy inside the nut to bind the pivot firmly in place. A snippet of unshrunk heatshrink tubing around the wire provides a bit of strain relief:

Lenovo headset - boom pivot nut with epoxy

Lenovo headset – boom pivot nut with epoxy

There’s no longer any space for the compliant washer in that stack, so we’ll see how long this lasts. The next repair will certainly venture far inside non-economical territory. I like the headphones, though.

Memo to Self: Check in an inconspicuous spot on the same material.

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