DIY: Finding the Ground Pin on an Audio Jack Socket

This is how to use a mutimeter to test the continuity between audio jack sleeves and audio jack socket pins.

I had bought a 3.5 mm audio jack socket and was attempting to use it on a breadboard project when I ran into some doubts. The socket had 5 pins. I was expecting 3 at most. The next question was which pin connects to which sleeve of the audio jack itself.

I did some quick searching online and didn’t find anything really quickly, but in the end I figured it out.

You need to use the continuity setting on a multimeter.

Multimeter – an instrument designed to measure electric current, voltage, and usually resistance, typically over several ranges of value.

Continuity – In electronics, a continuity test is the checking of an electric circuit to see if current flows (that it is in fact a complete circuit). A continuity test is performed by placing a small voltage (wired in series with an LED or noise-producing component such as a piezoelectric speaker) across the chosen path.

What you need to do is connect the jack to the socket. Then set your multimeter to the continuity setting. The symbol looks like the common symbol used for wi-fi.

Multimeter Continuity Symbol

Multimeter Continuity Symbol

Next connect one of the multimeter’s probes to the ground sleeve of the jack. Then use the other probe to test which pin is connected to it. Do that by simple touching the probe to each of the pins until a sound is made.

Tip, Ring, Sleeve Diagram

Tip, Ring, Sleeve Diagram

After doing all the testing I found that the two outer pins are for the audio channels and the middle pin that is a bit forward on the socket is the ground pin.

If you are using a mono jack you are going to use the Tip pin on the socket.

The sleeve is the ground (common) connection.

3.5 mm Audio Jack Socket Pin Diagram

3.5 mm Audio Jack Socket Pin Diagram

Watch the Video Tutorial

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Author: Joshua Casper

Joshua Casper is an Artist, Musician, and Blogger.

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