Multi-pin DIN plugs have a number of uses in audio and electronics. They've been used for computer keyboard connections and serial printer interfaces, they connect MIDI musical instruments to computers and each other, and they have many other uses in radio and specialized or industrial electronics. Wiring your own for repair purposes, or to replace a hard-to-find cable or connection, is only moderately challenging if your soldering skills are adequate.
Repairing a DIN Connector
Inspect the pins in your DIN connector, to check for visual damage or degradation. Use fine-tipped needlenose pliers to straighten any bent pins, if necessary, and rub away any oxidation or corrosion with a swab soaked in cleaner/degreaser. Try the cable again, to see if the problem has gone away.
Rotate the cable immediately behind your connection. If your device cuts in and out intermittently, you have a broken or weak wire in the cable itself. Try wrapping it in electrical tape or heat-shrink tubing. If the problem doesn't go away, or returns quickly, you need to locate the bad wire and fix it.
Test the cable's wires one at a time. Consult a pin-out diagram for your specific connection, and use a continuity tester or multimeter to check each wire individually for continuity. You should get a tone on the correct pin or socket at each end, but not any of the others. If you have continuity where you shouldn't, or don't have continuity where you should, you'll need to rewire the offending pin or socket.
Open the DIN shell. Some varieties are threaded together, while others snap together or are held in place with screws. If yours is molded in a single piece, you'll need to replace the entire connector with a new DIN shell.
Inspect the connections to the pins or sockets in your connector. If the solder joint on the offending wire has clearly failed, resolder it and test the cable again. If that resolves the problem, you can return the cable to active use without any further repair. If not, you'll need to cut away the flawed section of cable and reinstall your DIN connector.
Remove the insulation from each wire using a wire-stripping tool or a lighted match. Working one at a time, solder a new pin or socket to each wire. Pay careful attention to your wiring diagram, and test each pin after it's soldered to ensure you have good continuity. After the pins or sockets have all been soldered and tested, insert each one into the correct position on your DIN shell. They should snap firmly into place.
Plug in your DIN cable and test the connection. If you still have problems after retesting the DIN cable and verifying that the pin configuration is wired correctly, you might need to replace the connector on your other equipment instead.
Making Up a DIN Cable
Purchase a length of cable with the correct number of wires inside, and a pair of DIN shells of the correct size and configuration for your project. Most include the pins or sockets you'll need to make up a male or female DIN connector, as needed, but verify this in case you need to order the pins separately.
Remove approximately 1 inch of the outer insulation from each end of the cable using a wire stripping tool, and peel back the braided shield wire and any foil shielding that might be present. Identify the bare copper ground wire, if present, and the colored signal wires.
Strip one-quarter inch of the insulation from each of the colored wires, using a wire stripping tool or by gently heating the insulation with a lighted match and then rubbing it off after it cools.
Open the first DIN connector. If it's the type that threads together, slide the outer shell over your cable before you begin soldering. Carefully solder a pin or socket to each of your colored wires and the ground wire.
Consult your wiring diagram, and insert each pin or socket into the correct location on the DIN plug's head shell. Repeat the soldering process, installing the second connection at the other end of your cable.
Test the assembled cable with a multimeter or continuity tester, to ensure you have a good connection for each wire. If so, reassemble the shells for each connector. Otherwise, resolder the failed connection and try again. Most DIN connector kits include one or two spare pins for that purpose.
- If you're uncomfortable with soldering, look for a DIN kit that comes with crimp-on pins or sockets rather than the solder type. Solder connections are usually more durable in heavy or outdoor use.
- Measure your cable carefully, if you're making one up from scratch. MIDI and serial cables are typically straight, so you only need enough cable for the "A to B" distance plus a little extra for going around corners, if necessary. Radio equipment, especially for microphones, often uses a coiled cable. Allow an extra 20 to 30 percent with coiled cables, so they won't be stretched tight in regular use. That places unnecessary strain on the connection, and can cause it to fail again more quickly than it should.
- The pins in mini-DIN connectors are very small, and hard to clean. Larger DIN pins are rigid, and difficult to straighten without breaking the underlying solder joint. Exercise care whenever you're trying to repair one.
- Fine-tipped needlenose pliers
- Foam or cotton swab
- Electrical tape or heat-shrink tubing
- Wiring diagram, showing the pinout configuration of your cable
- Pencil-type soldering iron, electric or gas
- Rosin-core solder
- Continuity tester or multimeter
- Shielded cable
- 2 DIN connectors, male or female, as needed
- Wire stripping tool or match
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