Oculus Rift CV1 Cable Repair
Back in 2019, the cable of my Oculus Rift CV1 Headset finally broke. It started seeing frequent "blackouts" until one day the screen just stayed black forever. Back then, I was still able to get a replacement from Oculus support. The replacement cable lasted for about two years until it also eventually failed. This time, the customer support couldn't help me. The cables aren't made anymore. So I was left withg an otherwise perfectly fine virtual reality headset and two broken cables for it.
The problem with Oculus cables
The Oculus Rift CV1 comes with the cable already attached. It has a little plastic clip on the headband that holds the cable out of the way and routes it behind your head. This little clip is the culprit. The entire weight of the 4 meter cable rests on a small piece of plastic that basically creates a 90 degree bend. It doesn't take long until a kink in the cable is visible. A little longer and the tiny wires start failing. The HTC Vive solved this problem much better by routing the cables above the user's head and down the spine.
Attempting to repair it
So either I would scrape together the money for a Valve Index (I'm never buying an Oculus product ever again), or I attempted to repair the cable somehow. Since I can't afford an Index just yet, I decided to try my best to repair it. I came across a blog post basically saying it can't be done, but what's there to lose? After I saw a video of someone successfully fixing their CV1 cable, I was determined to try it.
Just like Nathan in his video, I carefully removed the insulation at the kink with a sharp knife. I then peeled off the shielding to take a look at the wires. I inspected the wires but I couldn't find any obvious damage. When I plugged the cable in in this state, it was working very intermittently. When I touched the wires, the headset would randomly go dark. But no matter what I did, I could not identify which wire was faulty. It seemed like any movement disturbed the image, regardless which wire I touched. With no movement, the image came back after a second.
Immobilizing the damage
I assume, this has something to do with the Spectre7 VR7100 chip that they use to transmit a HDMI signal over wires what would otherwise be way too thin for that. It must be doing some sort of interference correction that fails when the wires move a certain way. I didn't want to risk destroying the cable entirely, so I decided it would be best to just immobilize the damaged section and see how that goes.
I added some aluminium foil to reconnect the shielding and give it some extra strength. Then I added chopsticks to act as a splint, and wrapped it all in heat shrink tubing.
My cheap heat shrink tubing didn't really shrink tight, so I added some yellow cable ties to tighten it.
I went and tested my solution. It was working fine, but still blacked out sometimes when I touched the damaged part. I added some more cable ties to keep the bottom part in place.
The final product seems to be working fine now. It survived a few hours of VRChat without any issues.
I know this solution isn't going to last forever. I think the next step would be to open it up again and attempt to fix the thin wires by burning away the insulation and then adding some solder to them. As a last resort, I would try to shorten the cable to about 20cm and then just use HDMI and USB extentions instead.
But who knows? I wouldn't really call it a repair, but it works. And as we all know:
Nichts hält länger als ein Provisorium.
Nothing lasts longer than a temporary solution.