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Sensation(al) Grounding


I acquired an HTC Sensation as my new phone device a while back. It worked flawlessly for a good while and I am still extremely pleased with the upgrade from the Samsung Vibrant. The reason I say “a good while” is it has developed problems with headsets. Only those with in-line mics or buttons, and this includes those which came with the device.

Rummaging around on the web turns up this is due to an issue with grounding. The chassis being made of metal is conductive, and the TRRS style headsets use resistance levels to ground to indicate button presses. This becomes a problem as the paint rubs off around the 3.5mm jack hole in the top of the device allowing the line to ground out. It all fits together rather nicely I think.

The 3.5mm Jack
The 3.5mm jack showing wear

The few fixes on the web range from bending tabs to improve contact (counter productive here) to placing a piece of electrical tape over the hole to prevent the grounding. As one is counter productive and the other makes this rather expensive device look bad I had to find another option. Inspection of the parts yields a single grounding point from the main device chassis & electronics to the back case. I chose this as my target as it is discretely hidden and should do the same thing with less potential for wear and damage from the tape being jammed in the 3.5mm hole.

The Grounding Point
The Grounding Point

As can be seen in the image below I just placed a small piece of electrical tape over the grounding point. This effectively separates the two parts and prevents grounding at the jack. This has a down side of separating the two parts. So now the chassis is not an effective ground for RF and EMI so it may induce noise and other issues. Having just completed the task I can not say yet as to how it affects the overall performance.

The Grounding Point w/ Tape
The Grounding Point w/ Tape

So far the headphones all work well now. I have tested this with my Skull Candy, Samsung and HTC headphones with excellent results.

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