Left too much tip!
January 23, 2006 7:51 AM   Subscribe

The very tip of my 3/32" headphone adapter plug just came off in my Treo's headset jack. Any tips for how to extract it? I've tried: sucking it out (too much airflow coming from behind it); impaling it with a needle (won't impale); grabbing it with makeshift bobby-pin tweezers (no grip); and a toothpick tipped with Krazy Glue (didn't stick).

I'd like to avoid spending $50 on a pair of fine surgical tweezers, and I'd rather not take the whole device apart, even if I had a Torx set, which I don't. The Treo isn't under any warranty, and I sort of doubt that Radio Shack, from whom I bought the shoddy adapter, will foot the bill for a third-party repair.
posted by Eater to Technology (18 answers total)
I've extracted tiny parts from similar situations with a straightened-out paperclip with a dot of superglue on the end. Just dab the superglue on and stick it on the part to be removed and pull back a tiny bit so there's a little bit of glue between the part and the paperclip. Let it set for twenty seconds or so and pull gently.

There's probably a spring in there retaining the tip so make sure you don't accidentally stick the paperclip to the spring instead.

Good luck.
posted by mragreeable at 7:57 AM on January 23, 2006

I am such a tool for not reading the last sentence of your post. Oops.
posted by mragreeable at 7:58 AM on January 23, 2006

Glue is your only hope, but I'd use the broken jack as the implement and leave it for more than 20 secs.
posted by A189Nut at 8:11 AM on January 23, 2006

the superglue maybe dried before you stuck it in? use:

a) super speed to get it in there
b) super patience to let it dry
posted by soma lkzx at 8:20 AM on January 23, 2006

Gel Krazy Glue.
posted by orthogonality at 8:31 AM on January 23, 2006

I would try a little wooden dowel instead of a toothpick. The circle on the end would have a larger surface for contact with the end of the jack.
posted by duck at 8:43 AM on January 23, 2006

regarding the little wooden dowel: Just cut the tip off a toothpick with a sharp blade.

I agree witht he suggestion of trying gel krazy glue, if you haven't already.
posted by Good Brain at 8:56 AM on January 23, 2006

The tip is metal, right ? Try a magnet ? Carefully though...... (taking care to backup first in case you kill your stored data, in which case I never suggested this :-) )
posted by GreenTentacle at 8:59 AM on January 23, 2006

Maybe a 2 part epoxy on a paper clip... and some patience while it drys
posted by lobstah at 9:08 AM on January 23, 2006

Fashion the end of a longish needle into a little hook with a set of needlenose pliers. You should be able to get in behind/under the tip with that to free it.
posted by BrandonAbell at 9:45 AM on January 23, 2006

Had a digital camera years ago that used a 3/32nd jack to upload images. The one we bought was a returned item (the store didn't mark it as such) with a broken cord, like your situation. The tip of the jack actually fell inside the camera, and aside from a rattle when we shook it the thing worked fine with a replacement cord. Don't know if the jack is similar, but if all else fails plugging a different set of headphones in might just push the old broken tip into the inside of the device, allowing you to use it again.

On the other hand if the jack has a closed end, you won't be able to push anything in far enough to do anything.

Worst case scenario, get a screwdriver and extract the chunk manually. If your warranty is up, it can't hurt to try.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:01 AM on January 23, 2006

Best answer: I think the problem with using glue or indeed a magnet is that the jack plug and socket is designed to prevent the plug being removed with very little force. If it was sitting loosely enough to be pulled out with a drop of supergle on a pin or even a magnet, then it would probably be loose enough to fall out if you tipped the device on its side. Ever wondered why your iPod / iRiver / Discman headphones don't fall out constantly? Look at the shape of a jack plug. The shape of the socket mirrors this, so that it gently "latches" when inserted fully.

I think the chances of getting it out with glue are slim-to-none. This is a hole 3.5mm in diameter. Even if you can get a pin or paperclip down onto the broken piece of plug, there won't be enough surface area or glue to obtain a safe bond. And even if it did bond - the gentle "locking" mechanism of the jack socket would probably foil a tiny bond even with the strongest epoxy. If you tried to use more glue, you'd probably end up with a ruined jack socket, and a hefty repair bill.

Without a solid anchor on the piece that is inside the socket, I'd say that opening it up is the only real option. Or, if you're not prepared to do it, getting someone else to do it. The jack socket itself is an incredibly simple design, and once it's exposed you could simply push the end of the plug back out.
posted by coach_mcguirk at 10:07 AM on January 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

You probably don't need to spend $50 for a tweezer solution. But, you might try a bit of social engineering. If you live in a metro area, drop by a local watch repair shop and ask them how much they'd charge you to get the darn thing out of there. They should be well-equipped for the task. If you're nice and they are too, the cost could be almost to completely nothing. (Not to start a gender debate, but the free-help odds may be increased if you trigger the chivalry impulse by sending a friendly female with a plaintful plea for help to a one-old-guy repair shop, assuming you don't fit that description yourself).
posted by mdevore at 10:09 AM on January 23, 2006

mdevore: kudos for having the courage to speak the ugly truth about gender and repairs.

JB Weld is a two-part epoxy that is viscuous enough to help. The trick will be to get an implement (like the sawed-off toothpick mentioned above) to seat firmly with the broken jack, then let it drive for 12 hours.

The tweezer reference above is great!

When my son had a sliver pulled out from beneath his thumbnail, I asked if I could keep the scissors and tweezers, which they usually throw away.

I wonder if you could put a little JB Weld in the tube-end of a cheap pen refill and glue it to the jack-stub.
posted by craniac at 10:20 AM on January 23, 2006

These glue solutions run the big risk of gluing your extraction implement to your phone. Far safer to disassemble.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:51 AM on January 23, 2006

Find a thin wall tube that fits the plug hole, put glue inside the tube, good luck.
posted by hortense at 12:11 PM on January 23, 2006

Building on hortense's suggestion: Try taking apart a couple of ball point pens - the ink tube varies between pens, and one might be just the right size to push the contact away and envelop the broken piece.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:42 PM on January 23, 2006

Response by poster: Followup: I bought a Torx T5 driver and opened up the treo and took out the wayward part. As it turned out, the back end of the headphone jack was accessible through the battery compartment, so I didn't have to take it all apart. But I didn't realize that till I already had.

I looked at this site for guidance.
posted by Eater at 2:18 PM on January 29, 2006

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