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Sound Card Cables and Connectors
Standard sound cards have 3.5 mm stereo input and output jacks. Cables with 3.5 mm stereo plugs are readily available and quite inexpensive, as are adapter cables with RCA connectors on one end.
Avoid trying to add a 3.5 mm connector to a cable. These are very difficult to solder, and usually cost as much as a complete cable with connectors already attached at both ends.
If you need to connect to equipment with another type of connector, and no ready-made adapter cable can be found, your best bet is probably to buy a long cable with 3.5 mm plugs on both ends. Cut it in half, strip the cut ends as needed, and attach your chosen connectors.
However, many connectors may be difficult to attach to computer audio cables. In such cases, you can make a small adapter box or panel and install the panel-mount style of your chosen connector. Solder the cable ends directly to the back side of this connector, with the cable shield and/or ground soldered to a separate lug under the connector if needed.
Before you solder the cable, thread it through a hole in the adapter box. Make sure you use a grommet to avoid subsequent damage to the cable during use. Tie a loose knot in the cable to act as a strain relief and to prevent it from slipping back through the hole, leaving an adequate length inside the box to allow connections to be made.
The loose knot will prevent the cable from pulling out of the box, but will not protect it against twisting that could pull on the solder joints. Use a tie-wrap to anchor the cable securely to something else inside the box, or use a blob of hot-glue or silicone sealer to anchor the knot securely at the hole.
You can use the +5 volt and ground pins of a standard USB port to supply modest amounts of power (100 mA max current draw). This may be used to power small external circuits such as DC Pulse Output Converters.
The simplest approach is to cut up an old USB cable. You are just using the DC power connections, so this can be an old USB 1.0 cable, such as from an old printer or other unused device. Cut off the device connector, and keep the USB connector plus as much cable as you want to connect power to your circuit. Strip the cut end of the cable, then use the color code guide below. (Red = +5 V, Black = Ground.) Be sure to strap the cable securely to your circuit, or otherwise provide strain relief.
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