Last week we learned Oculus founder and former executive Palmer Luckey was getting ready to release a repair kit for out-of-warranty Rifts that suffer from a manufacturing flaw that results in malfunctioning audio in one (or both) of the headset’s integrated headphones. Now, Luckey says, he’s giving it away for free.
Luckey announced the repair kit on his personal blog, dubbing it the ‘RR1’, or the Rift Repair One.
If you haven’t tried your own homebrew method yet, the fix is more simple than you might think, requiring no tools or knowledge of the internal workings of the headset’s audio cabling.
Essentially, Luckey’s kit works by bridging the left and right audio contacts with an external cable, resembling more or less the same solution featured in a quick video guide by YouTuber ‘Virtual Reality Oasis’.
Having bought several malfunctioning Rifts from Twitter and Reddit users over the past year (at it’s current price no less), Luckey determined the problem stems from long-term use, which he says “often leads to failure of important electrical paths in a specific ribbon cable that winds through the strap.”
It seems most of his Rifts with the issue fail at the ground connection for the right headphone audio module, Luckey says, which has resulted in countless threads across the Internet asking for a solution. It also works for users with a complete failure of both integrated headphones.
The repair kit, Luckey says, can be “configured in a variety of ways to address a variety of different failures while running in parallel to the existing electrical system.”
“Most people only need a common ground between their right and left headphone audio modules – just slap the wiring harness on, slip the bypass discs between the pogo pins on the headphones and the strap receptacle, you will be back in business!”
For users with full audio failure, the kit allows you to directly tie-in external audio sources, presumably plugging into what appears to be the RR1’s integrated 3.5mm audio jack.
Before sending off for a kit, Luckey suggests going through some standard first aid steps to diagnose the issue, including contacting Oculus Support if tightening the connection, cleaning the contacts, or fixing your PC’s sound settings doesn’t work.
Failing that, out-of-warranty Rift users can send a copy of their Oculus Support ticket and their mailing address to RiftRepairOne@gmail.com for their very own RR1 repair kit and setup instructions.
Luckey explains he’s releasing the free kit not only out of a duty to maintain the product he undersigned, but to keep the ecosystem healthy for the sort of powerusers that would run into the problem in the first place.
“Properly functioning, high quality audio that does not rely on fumbling with third party headphones and cables is an important part of getting users to regularly engage, and the market research bears it out – there is a reason everyone is building audio into their headsets, even companies that initially doubted the importance,” he says.
Because Luckey isn’t selling the kit, and requires applicants to already have a Rift in a fail state, you might look at the RR1 as more than just a charitable act to the Rift-using community. It could serve as a strong message to Oculus to address the issue, be it by directly referring out-of-warranty customers to Luckey’s kit, or publicly acknowledging the issue and taking the matter into their own hands.
Whatever the case may be, it looks like many long-term Rift owners will have the full use of their headset now just in time for the long wait for the next Rift headset—the fabled ‘Rift S’, which is said to include inside-out tracking and could presumably have a higher resolution display.