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Repairing Christmas Lights with very thin wiring.

Discussion in 'Electronics & Electrics' started by ruffdayz, Jan 2, 2020.

  1. ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    May 27, 2017
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    Hi all,

    Whilst putting up my lights this year, a new set of curtain LEDs got snagged and the wiring snapped.

    I did a temp cut and twist on the wiring, but the problem is it's so incredibly thin (only 1-2mm) that I'm even having problems splicing the wires without simply pulling the plastic sheathing forwards.

    I absolutely suck at soldering which makes things worse, but because of the repair job I'm going to need to replace probably 20-30cm of cabling now.

    Is there any tips/trick/hints for repairing wiring with such tiny and delicate strands? I haven't tried to use my wire strippers on the cable (just used teeth), but from memory even they won't go that small a strand.

    Any help in splicing in a decent set of wire would be much appreciated.

    Cheers :)
     
  2. mtma

    mtma Member

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    Aug 12, 2009
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    5,344
    For the splicing, if you don't think you can do it then go easy mode:

    https://www.jaycar.com.au/1-7mm-solder-splice-heatshrink-pack-of-6/p/WH5669

    However, if the wires are individually insulated like a headphone cable, you will still need to prep them so they will tin.

    As for the stripping, not much can help you except that you will need to carefully nip the cable insulation until you can strip it properly. Whilst there are strippers that will do this, you can also do this with a pair of sidecutters and some patience and control. One technique is to compress the point where you want to strip with the side cutters but not cut the insulation, then nip the wings of the deformed part of the insulation - as close to the copper you can without cutting it, and then put the sidecutters on the deformation (but not with enough pressure to cut) and strip.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020
  3. qwertylesh

    qwertylesh Member

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    a cheap and dirty lazy way might be to burn the plastic off the end of the wire. when soldering them, make sure you use Flux, dip both ends in flux, twist together, then add a dab of solder, it'll follow the flux and solder inplace nicely.
     
    spludgey likes this.
  4. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Thanks to both of you for your posts .... it's just such a pain!

    To give you an idea how it snapped originally.. it literally grazed on brickwork on window sill and snapped without any tension on it. In fact whilst looking today it appears another bit of wire has come apart from an LED itself. At $50 might be worth just ditching and replacing them.

    I had used some molex cable temporarily to get them repaired (and just twisted the cable together and wrapped in tape), but the original cable is so thin (literally a few strands thick about 1-2mm in total), that a tiny bit of tension and it pulled apart again.

    I'm thinking of trying to get some thicker gauge wire, but that still causes an issue joining them inevitably (albeit maybe further up the chain towards power plug), and with the other tear now, it seems it could be ongoing.

    I initially was using sidecutters, but it's way too fine, so then opted for teeth. Problem is teeth just stretched the outside insulation and eventually when I did get cable it was broken strands due to tension.

    Tried that trick, and it's simply too thin and just gets stuck all melted and needs to be cut completely again.
     
  5. qwertylesh

    qwertylesh Member

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    Sounds like earphone cable, its so impossibly thin to repair. If the burning trick didnt work then it's probably far too thin :/
     
  6. shredder

    shredder Member

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    Doesn't sound worth repairing, due to the apparent likelihood of more easy faults going forward. Got a link to the actual product?
     
  7. ArmoureD

    ArmoureD Member

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    It's probably copper clad aluminium conductors. They are a pain to work with. Probably easier to ditch the set.
     
  8. always.all.in

    always.all.in Member

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  9. PabloEscobar

    PabloEscobar Member

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    These things are SHIT.

    To get enough temp into the solder to melt it, you end up burning the heatshrink and insulation.
    Cold Joints abound.

    Twist and Tape is better than these :).

    Linemans splice was my goto when doing things properly, although I don't know how well it would go with the thin wire being discussed.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Union_splice

    Good mechanical relieve, plenty of surface area for solder.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Bought them for $50 from The Base Warehouse. Were "Seny" brand. Would have cost about $10 to repair.

    Went to Roni's today and bought 2 x connectable warm white LED curtain sets for $60. No brainer really and the new set the wiring is about 3mm thick.

    Thanks everyone for your replies and contributions... this is what I was dealing with(100% no cropping):

    upload_2020-1-3_18-45-11.png

    upload_2020-1-3_18-45-38.png
     
  11. merlin13

    merlin13 Member

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    If you want to keep those lights then find someone with the right soldering skills, who'll also put suitable lengths of glue-lined heatshrink over the joins to help keep the cable together.

    Else look at making what you've got into two shorter light runs... :)
     
    ruffdayz likes this.
  12. ir0nhide

    ir0nhide Member

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    If you're in Adelaide I can help you with the soldering. Otherwise yeah, a razor blade to scrape back insulation, lots of flux and some fine heatshrink is the go.
     
    ruffdayz likes this.
  13. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Thanks for the kind offer. I ended up replacing them then just binning the set. I figured 2 breaks in one season, they are just going to cause more issues.

    Just under 5000 LEDs in our display so was easier just to replace them.
     

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