Using A Fusion Splicer To Repair A Samsung TV’s Cable

A fusion splicer being used to repair an optical fiber

Some Samsung TVs come with a system called One Connect, where all external cabling is connected to a separate box so that only one small signal cable goes to the TV. In some versions, the cable linking the TV with its Connect Box is a pure fiber optic cable that’s nearly transparent and therefore easy to hide.

Thin fiber optic cables are fragile however; when [Elecami Wolf] got one of these TVs for a very low price it turned out that this was because its One Connect cable had snapped. Replacement cables are quite expensive, so [Elecami Wolf] went on to investigate the inner workings of the fiber optic cable and figured out how to repair a broken one.

The cable consists of four pairs of plastic-coated glass fibers, which are attached to receivers and transmitters inside the thick connectors on either end. Repairing the cable required two things: figuring out which fibers should connect to each other, and a reliable way of connecting them together.

The first was difficult enough: a simple 1:1 connection didn’t work, so it took a bit of work to figure out the correct connection setup. One clever trick was pointing a camera at a working cable and comparing the flashing lights at each end; this helped to identify the right order for two of the four pairs. For the other two, a combination of reverse-engineering the electronic circuits and some systematic trial-and-error yielded a complete wiring diagram.

For the second part, [Elecami Wolf] called on a fiber optic expert who lent him a fusion splicer. This is a rather neat piece of equipment that semi-automatically brings two pieces of fiber together and welds them with an electric arc. Once this was complete, it was a matter of covering the splices to protect them from sharp bends, and the fancy TV was working again.

Although not everyone will have access to a multi-mode fusion splicer machine, [Elecami Wolf]’s videos provide fascinating insights into the workings of modern fiber-optic based consumer electronics. This might be the first fiber-optic splicing attempt we’ve seen; but if you’re trying to hook up an optical fiber to your circuit, this ball lens setup is a neat trick.

Thanks for the tip, [X-Cubed]!

31 thoughts on “Using A Fusion Splicer To Repair A Samsung TV’s Cable

  1. I was a Telecomm Tech at Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant in the late 1980s and back then people who could splice fiber cable got $2000 a splice. That would be $8000 just for this repair.

    Now, except for very long runs, you just pick the right pre-terminated cable and plug it in. The excess gets coiled up and stuffed away somewhere along the run.

    1. Here in Ontario bell uses fiber all the way to router (with removable SFP). I have had broken cable twice and the service technician carries one of these devices.. It’s amazing to see them work, they align the cables and with one quick spark weld the ends.. I don’t think those technicians make more than $60-100k an year.

  2. Unless the price has come way down on fusion splicers, that’s not a cheap tool to use. Maybe a hackerspace might have something like that for people to rent or borrow.

    Damned shame it’s not some LC Variant allowing for easy repairs.

    1. But replacing the glass fibers completely might work too.
      If the connectors can be kinda disassembled or reconstructed via 3D printer or hot glue ;-)

      Haven’t worked/played around with fiber cables much but I’m sure there are some cheap ones where you can pull the cable from the LC/SC/ST/whatever plug….

    2. Depends – you can have new one for around 1k USD from the usual suspects (ali) or if you shop around on ebay you can have some used for little bit less. There are soldering irons more expensive than this so i would say not cheap but not super expensive either.

      1. Or you can use premade splicing connectors. They use glue, you just need to prepare the cable itself. I wouldn’t recommend that but that’s a viable solution if you can’t borrow a splicer.

    1. My random guess, one is audio and one is video (assuming that it has built in speakers like most TV’s).

      Probably lazyness because they probably already have the prebuilt electronics for the audio coming through fiber, and rather than build something to split the audio/video signals, they just ran another cable pair.

  3. Shame Samsung didn’t just an MPO connector or a simple QSFP DAC or something. Why reinvent the wheel? Are they making that much money on selling replacement cables, or just forcing perfectly good TVs into the scrap heap?

    For anyone not familiar with how fusion splicing actually works, this video is a very quick, but very good, intro:

    The electrodes strike an arc which heats the ends of the fibers. Just as they’re approaching molten, the fine motion stage in the machine “kisses” the ends together, and they fuse into one. The arc turns off, and it cools.

    The specific details of the timing and motion are super important to the final quality of the splice, since too much force will make a bulge, too little makes the splice mechanically weak, any lateral skew causes a step-misalignment, etc. The arc energy determines the temperature but has to be adjusted to compensate as the electrode tips wear, and of course it also depends on ambient temperature and humidity and barometric pressure and everything else. The devil’s in the details but the process itself is conceptually as simple as it gets.

    1. Keep in mind the one-connect cable carries audio, video, and power. Also take the word “expensive” here with a grain of salt.
      It is the transparent versions that have the high cost. A solid black shielded one-connect cable is $40, which puts it on-par (or cheaper) than any existing cables/connectors.
      I’d guess that $100 MPO cable, if made custom to be transparent, would easily exceed a couple hundred dollars.

        1. Yes, this cable has a translucent conductive-pair of ‘something’ along with the fiber optics.
          It is the only cable going between the display and the box with all the actual circuitry in it, including power supply.

          I don’t think I can stress enough how key the transparency feature is to people that buy this specific cable. The types of people that pay $400 for the almost transparent fiber version are only doing it for how it looks.
          The $40 one is functionally identical except that it looks like a cable. This is what you get for behind-the-wall installations, or when you don’t care that it looks like you have a cable running to your TV :P

  4. I installed one of these flavors of TV several years ago. I recall being unpleasantly surprised by the architecture of that somewhat chunky cable sitting between that stupid looking box and the giant screen we were hoisting up onto the wall.

    Poking around a bit now, it looks to me like the subject of this article is a special implementation of the umbilical to make it even less obtrusive/ugly. If I were faced with the problem at hand, I’d first hunt for the copper version of the connector. I see one candidate online for < $75.

    I'm guessing that the should-be-waaay-overkill two pairs of fiber probably mimics the architecture of the copper medium.

    I suppose this design was Samsung's way of hiding the multitude of cables that usually connect between the TV and the various input sources. In that light it makes some sense. The whole idea of that umbilical still gives me the yips for some reason. Personally, I'd rather cut holes in my wall to create a chase for the big wad of cables, but not everyone has that option.

    Anyway, I applaud the efforts to revive cheap/free electronics as I tend do to the same when I can. Yeah, I'm cheap, but I'm worth it.

  5. I have two Samsung QLED tv’s and both of them also receive power from the one-connect cable. It’s amazing that they can send power for the 65″ and even the 82″ tv’s through such a thin cable with only fibers in it. Surely they DO need power, right? How do they do this?

    1. I have a Samsung One connect TV, there a two AC Poe cords, one that powers the TV itself and a second that powers the breakout box the houses the usb, hdmi, and Ethernet connections. There may be newer models that supply power (likely from TV to breakout box) via the umbilical cable. I also have a Samsung the uses a thicker electrical umbilical from the display to the breakout, there is no second power cord in this implementation.

  6. Having done similar, a trick we used was to sick a little metal rod across the join before applying the plastic heat shrink, makes it less likely to snap.

    Also, fiber optic spliters are just the worst if you get them in you!

  7. How thin do screens have to get before they quit sending audio to the back of the screen through ever skinny speakers?
    The apartment behind the screen hears the sound better.

    Video needs only 1 standard cable. Power to the screen is a changing target to pin down other than mains power. Having a multi-mode patch box external to the screen should be option. Like where do I plug in the VHS? A fake or real planter can hide things below the screen if needed instead of such an expensive workaround.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.