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View Full Version : Is there such a thing as a dummy earphone jack insert to mute a computer?


Spectre of Pithecanthropus
04-03-2009, 10:14 AM
My notebook is fairly new, having been purchased three months ago. For the most part I am very happy with it, but it does have one annoying design flaw. The hardware control buttons aren't buttons at all, but lighted touchpoints to the right of the keyboard. This includes the mute switch, which I always seem to be setting on or off inadvertently as my finger slides over it. That can happen while I'm reaching for the CD/DVD eject button, which is also on the right side of the machine, or even any time I have to reach beyond the alphabetic keys in that part of the keyboard.

Since the volume level has a habit of getting itself to maximum, this can be rather irritating when I want silence. I suppose I could set up another user and disable all sound through Windows settings for that user, and then use that account when I want to be quiet. But that seems like more trouble than its worth. Even in a fast computer, running two logins simultaneously seems to degrade performance, regardless of whether only one of them is actually running any voluntary programs.

It would be easier to have a grounded dummy earphone plug to insert in the jack. It would do the one thing that non-working headphones are good for, without the playful-cat attracting inconvience of dangling wires and a dead headset. Do they make something like that? What is it called, so I know what to ask for?

misling
04-03-2009, 10:18 AM
How about plugging in a headphone jack converter without the headphones? the kind for example that converts a minijack to a large (or sub-mini) jack?

for example one of these:http://www.proporta.com/F02/PPF02P05.php?t_id=751&t_mode=des

GaryM
04-03-2009, 10:20 AM
All you need is a plug of the correct size, and two 8 Ohm resistors. Both items are available from Radio Shack.

The plug is most likely 3/32" or perhaps 1/8" diameter.

Solder one resistor across the sleeve terminal and the tip terminal, and the other across the ring terminal and the sleeve terminal on the plug and plug it in when you want quiet.

Roland Orzabal
04-03-2009, 10:27 AM
Or just go to the dollar store, buy a pair of earbuds, and cut off the plug with a pair of scissors. S'what I did.

misling
04-03-2009, 10:29 AM
The adaptor jack works just fine on my pc and costs a couple bucks. I just tried it. Plugging in the adaptor apparently diverts the sound to headphones, so just don't plug any headphones into the adaptor.

Gorsnak
04-03-2009, 10:32 AM
All you need is a plug of the correct size, and two 8 Ohm resistors. Both items are available from Radio Shack.

The plug is most likely 3/32" or perhaps 1/8" diameter.

Solder one resistor across the sleeve terminal and the tip terminal, and the other across the ring terminal and the sleeve terminal on the plug and plug it in when you want quiet.
Unless the computer is measuring the load, you don't need the resistors. An open circuit should be fine. It's virtually certain that the computer detects headphones plugged in via a switched jack - any plug inserted will close a switch which tells the computer to route the music to the headphones instead of the speakers. Measuring the load on the jack to detect headphones would involve circuitry and cost money. Any headphone-plug-shaped item inserted into the jack should mute the speakers.

Just make sure if you use the snip the cheap earbuds off trick that the end of the wires aren't shorting out, or you may overload the audio output of the laptop.

Terminus Est
04-03-2009, 11:01 AM
Go to Control Panel, pick Sounds and Audio Devices, and check "Place volume icon in the taskbar". Click on said volume icon in the taskbar and check "Mute" to mute the volume.

Telperion
04-03-2009, 11:13 AM
If you have a HDMI port (Many new notebooks do.), it would probably be easier to just route the sound there for complete silence.

ChrisBooth12
04-03-2009, 11:37 AM
No need to over engineer something here..Just plug in some headphoens problem solved. Or buy cheap ones and cut the cord..Or put the mute icon on your task bar..Don't worry bout Ohms and resitors

Canadjun
04-03-2009, 11:46 AM
Go to Control Panel, pick Sounds and Audio Devices, and check "Place volume icon in the taskbar". Click on said volume icon in the taskbar and check "Mute" to mute the volume.

If the OP's laptop behaves similar to the one I'm using, that won't help. He keeps unmuting accidentally by touching the magic spot by his keyboard. I just muted mine by your method and touching the magic spot by my keyboard unmuted it again.

dracoi
04-03-2009, 12:18 PM
If the OP's laptop behaves similar to the one I'm using, that won't help. He keeps unmuting accidentally by touching the magic spot by his keyboard. I just muted mine by your method and touching the magic spot by my keyboard unmuted it again.

Yeah, same problem with my laptop. To make sure it stays quiet, I usually lower the volume to zero AND mute it. The idea of a dummy jack is actually a good one.

crazyjoe
04-03-2009, 12:37 PM
The problem is that he probably also has volume up and down touchpoints as well, so that won't help. My suggestion would be to disable the driver for these touchpoints, or at least turn them off. Typically you can find them either in the services snap-in or on the toolbar somewhere.

Terminus Est
04-03-2009, 01:34 PM
If the OP's laptop behaves similar to the one I'm using, that won't help. He keeps unmuting accidentally by touching the magic spot by his keyboard. I just muted mine by your method and touching the magic spot by my keyboard unmuted it again.
Aha. That's what happens when bad hardware design is too well integrated with bad software design.

The problem is that he probably also has volume up and down touchpoints as well, so that won't help. My suggestion would be to disable the driver for these touchpoints, or at least turn them off. Typically you can find them either in the services snap-in or on the toolbar somewhere.
Yeah, there should be a way to disable the button via a software setting. I won't be surprised if there weren't though.

Back in the neolithic age, I had a TRS-80 Model I with tape drive (woo-hoo!). The drive was just a standard cassette player with a cable that you plugged into the back of the CPU/keyboard. IIRC, it came with a dummy plug, exactly like the OP is looking for, that was necessary if you actually wanted save anything to the tape. Maybe Radio Shack still has them available.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
04-03-2009, 02:26 PM
How about plugging in a headphone jack converter without the headphones? the kind for example that converts a minijack to a large (or sub-mini) jack?

for example one of these:http://www.proporta.com/F02/PPF02P05.php?t_id=751&t_mode=des

I think something like this would be exactly right. I just want something physically tiny, unlike actual headphones, that I could just keep plugged in except when I want to listen to something.

JerseyFrank
04-03-2009, 02:32 PM
Get a right-angle one so that it doesn't stick out so far.

Mangetout
04-03-2009, 02:40 PM
I think something like this would be exactly right. I just want something physically tiny, unlike actual headphones, that I could just keep plugged in except when I want to listen to something.

Probably the most compact thing would be a right-angle jack plug off a pair of cheap earbuds - just snip the cable off.

ETA: Yes, it really did take me more than 8 minutes to write that.

Santo Rugger
04-03-2009, 04:05 PM
I'm guessing a paperclip would be a bad idea?

FWIW, the security team here at work has these things they use to put into the microphone jack to prevent their use. They look similar to Mastermind game pieces, and once you put them in, they can't be [easily] taken out. I'm not sure if they'd trigger the sensor you're after, but they could possibly provide a technical, if not practical or workable, answer to what the OP had in mind.

ETA: It looks to be about three millimeters deep, and sticks out of the countersink less than a millimeter.

HorseloverFat
04-03-2009, 04:18 PM
You can uninstall the drivers that support those buttons or disable them in hardware manager (i think). Now just use the windows built in volume and mute controls.

Gary T
04-03-2009, 04:19 PM
Seems to me the cheapest thing would be to go to Radio Shack and buy a plug of the right size (like this) (http://sci-toys.com/scitoys/scitoys/radio/phone_plugs.jpg) as a separate part. Doesn't come with wires, so you don't have to cut anything off. Probably costs a buck.

dracoi
04-03-2009, 05:34 PM
I'm not the OP, but disabling the buttons through software settings is not an ideal solution - certainly not as good in my mind as a dummy jack. The buttons really are quite useful, they're just way too sensitive. A dummy jack involves a lot less time and fewer steps than constantly enabling and disabling the buttons.

Of course, an even better solution would be to make the media buttons actual buttons instead of hypersensitive touch points, but the engineers forgot to ask for my opinion when they built it. :)

Q.E.D.
04-03-2009, 05:58 PM
ETA: Yes, it really did take me more than 8 minutes to write that.

What were you typing with? Your ass?

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