New backwards compatible USB cable

Why hasn’t there been a USB cable developed that is reversible like Apple’s lightning connector? This is something that has bothered me for a while. There are a lot of jokes around the USB connector, my favourite being this one from SMBC.


But why can’t we have a reversible one. So I did a speed run through the 56 MB of documentation on USB 2.0, and can’t see any specific reason that this can’t be done. The only reason I’ve come up with is that there is a risk of shorting, especially if someone doesn’t conform to the standard. I also read on StackExchange, one person’s answer relating to USB specifications that the USB logo must be displayed on the top of the connector, something I feel can be easily overcome.

I have seen a prototype demonstrated before, and while nice, I don’t think it’s the simplest solution to the problem. I believe this solution makes use of a similar mechanism. Also I really feel a plug shouldn’t have moving parts.

So that leaves us with this:

I decided to test out Sketchup, having being spoilt with student version’s of Autodesk software throughout university, it was something new to try out. So excuse the poor animation and model.

2015-05-02 17.16.28

In any case, I took an old USB cable and shaved off the casing to test out the feasibility of this option. And my initial thought played true. If you have contacts on both sides of the plug, on the side not connecting to the USB port, the contacts short with the springs in the port housing, which in practice would result in an overload warning from your computer, and the USB port shutting down.

2015-05-02 17.15.22

So, I can see why no one has done this yet, but I still think there’s a better solution than what we currently have. And I’m not convinced that my method, with some minor adjustments, can’t work.

Some funny things I found in the standards document include maximum insertion and extraction forces, of 35 N at 12.5mm/min and 10 N at 12.5mm/min respectively. Also a cable pull-out specification, because who is going to try grip a plug, when you can just tug on the wire :)

note: this post was started in June 2014, but I’ve only now made time to tie everything together and publish, in May 2015

Micro USB… Really?

I got a new phone today, yay! Cellphone contract ended last month, and wanted to switch from MTN to Vodacom but was going to end up being such a mission that I just gave up and am going to stick it out with MTN for another 24months. The upside of this is my new (although it’s a relatively old phone) Nokia E63. Basically the big brother of my previous Nokia E51.

Now the point of this. USB mini is a great port, it has been used on practically everything electronic, it’s great, I love it, so why have Nokia decided to stick silly little flimsy USB-Micro ports on their new phones? A cable I do not own, and will now wait a bit before buying. I’m probably just being illogical, or not thinking this through, but I just find it annoying, and why can’t everyone just use the same cable?

Then I remembered having read a few years ago that all the big Cellphone Manufacturers had gotten together and decided to unify the chargers they use on their cellphones. According to this article, this is supposed to be done by 2012. That’s great! Then I read on to see that they have chosen the USB-Micro plug as the weapon of choice for charging all cellphones from then on. Sigh. But I guess yay for unity.

In any case, I thought great! My phone has a USB-micro port, that obviously means that Nokia have gotten over their fear of allowing their cellphones to charge via USB and I’ll be able to charge my phone via USB. Borrowing a cable from a friend proved that my faith in Nokia was unnecessary as they have once again disappointed.

I don’t have much to say, seeing as I have set it up almost exactly as a larger clone of my previous phone, based on the same Symbian OS. It may just be in my mind, but it does seem to react slightly faster. I do however feel that their ability to have more than one “Home Screen” is the biggest waste of time ever. They’ve also put the asterisk, zero and hash keys on the right hand side of the what would normally be a standard numpad, a bit frustrating, but seeing as I am starting for the first time with a QWERTY keypad on a cellphone, I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

For the moment I’m downloading new Firmware for it, so we’ll see how that goes.