Sun Mar 13 23:15:11 EDT 2016

connector savers and USB devices

My bike helmet light, the Light & Motion Vis 360, like basically anything with a battery in it nowadays, charges over USB. Unfortunately, USB sockets aren't invulnerable, and after a couple years of bike commuting, mine loosened up to the point that it wouldn't charge.

Well, I'm a handy fellow, so I opened up the light, got out my fine tip temperature-controlled soldering iron, and promptly lifted a couple tracks. Whoops.

Light & Motion charged me $48.75 for a new logic board and battery, which was reasonable enough, but I really don't want to spend $49 every two years as long as I own this light. Isn't There A Better Way?

There sure is! Connector savers!

A connector saver is an adapter that you put on an expensive piece of equipment, and make all future connections at this interface. This protects your equipment, because when some idiot trashes the connector saver, you replace a relatively inexpensive adapter rather than send your equipment out for repair.

Connector savers are much more common with test equipment and in the aerospace world, (Indeed, the first place I heard about them was in NASA-STD 8739.4) where a single big multi-contact connector can cost thousands of dollars, and be rated for surprisingly few cycles. But hey, nothing stopping me from putting a connector saver on my piddly little bike light.

I wanted a connector saver with a flexible bit in the middle, basically a very short extension cable. This was hard to find. Newegg's cable category has really lousy search, and while Amazon did have what I was looking for, shipping would be annoyingly expensive, and I didn't really want to give the Beast from Lake Union any more business, given that my company directly competes with them in a couple markets.

I finally found USBFirewire's RR-MCB-EXT-05G5, which worked perfectly. Now we'll see how long the connector saver will last!

Posted by Samuel Bierwagen | Permanent link | File under: Engineering