Author Topic: Making some USB cables  (Read 31382 times)

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Offline nubbinator

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Making some USB cables
« on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 00:37:29 »
I've started making USB cables for keyboards, so wanted to show off what I've done so far.  They're not quite done since Bhiner screwed up my order when they shipped it to me, but they've only got the USB A side left to do properly.  I just wanted to share them since they've been fun to do and I can't wait for remaining parts to get here so I can send cables off to Jocelyn, Affect656, and eyesmiles, the latter two who won the cables in the Glissant auction.  Once I have sun again (it's night, hence the bad photo), I plan on taking some nicer shots of them.


Offline Paranoid

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 02:23:58 »
Looking good nubbinator :) have fun on your cable adventure! ^^
Is the USB-A housing opening that small that you can't get the sleeving in?
What sleeves do we have here btw? Paracord, MDPC-X, Nylon perhaps, and something steel looking. That one looks fancy btw. Is that techflex? :)

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 02:39:47 »
Looking good nubbinator :) have fun on your cable adventure! ^^
Is the USB-A housing opening that small that you can't get the sleeving in?
What sleeves do we have here btw? Paracord, MDPC-X, Nylon perhaps, and something steel looking. That one looks fancy btw. Is that techflex? :)

Thanks.  It is pretty fun and I'm surprised I can get my hands stable enough for the soldering of the mini B connectors.  They're much harder to solder than the USB A connectors.  If you can't tell by my signature, I like to experiment and "play" and try new things.  The next thing I'll be doing is some custom wire key cap pullers made from maple, cherry, birch, and walnut.

It's actually due to Bhiner screwing up my order and not sending me my USB A housings.  The only ones I have are some less than stellar low quality plastic housings that cost way more than they're worth.  For my first set of cables, I bought a few smaller USB cables for the cable itself, so the end piece you see is actually the housing it came with.  I couldn't afford to commit to a full spool before doing a couple of cables first.

No paracord there.  I've played with paracord, but the sizing is so inconsistent with 550 cord.  I tried a few lengths of paracord I have lying around, but they were all too narrow to fit over the USB cable.  It's sad because they're a nice steel grey, fuschia, and cyan-ish blue color.  I used Bitspower, Kobra, and ModDIY (which is okay, not really as good as the other two). I was looking at some of the metal sleeving at a few places, but it's prohibitively expensive.
« Last Edit: Fri, 24 May 2013, 02:49:10 by nubbinator »

Offline tjcaustin

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 02:43:39 »
Looks good

Also, I'm assuming he was supposed to send you the ends that snap on instead of slip?
« Last Edit: Fri, 24 May 2013, 03:00:31 by tjcaustin »

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 03:40:31 »
Looks good

Also, I'm assuming he was supposed to send you the ends that snap on instead of slip?

Thanks.

Yeah, they were.  I actually purchased them and they're sitting there at Bhiner, they just didn't put it in my package.

Offline Paranoid

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 04:00:58 »
Bummers about the connectors!
I don't know those sleevings, mainly because it's more of a US thing I guess ^^ but they do look a lot like MDPC. Probably from the same factory or something :p About the Paracord, it's a trial and error thing. Even if you buy the same color from two different companies the flexibility varies. But I use two types of cable now, with the smallest diameter for the patterned Paracord because it can get really tight :)

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 04:10:34 »
Bummers about the connectors!
I don't know those sleevings, mainly because it's more of a US thing I guess ^^ but they do look a lot like MDPC. Probably from the same factory or something :p About the Paracord, it's a trial and error thing. Even if you buy the same color from two different companies the flexibility varies. But I use two types of cable now, with the smallest diameter for the patterned Paracord because it can get really tight :)

Yeah, it is annoying, especially since they're trying to charge me additional shipping for their mistake,

It wouldn't surprise me if they were made in the same place.  Bitspower, Kobra, and MDPC-X are all of similar quality.  In fact, the Bitspower may actually be a hair nicer since it seems like the weave is a little denser than the MDPC-X I've had in the past.  I'd have to put them side by side though.

Unfortunately, places where you can buy bulk USB cables seem to be few and far between in the US (from the searching I've done at least), so I'm not sure how viable different thicknesses would be here.

Offline Jocelyn

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 05:28:34 »
They all look so nice!! I can't wait to see more photos later today :)

Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 05:34:40 »
Looks nice, nubbinator. Did you soldered the A side from scratch, or did you recycle a premade USB cable and just sleeved it? Is that grey one actually steel or paracord that is colored grey?

Offline Aranair

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 05:35:54 »
...the lime one looks nice, drools..

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Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 05:41:11 »
Ah so carbon fiber, not really metal. I wonder where George gets his dark stainless steel ones.

Offline Dubsgalore

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 09:21:30 »
Nice Nub
looking good so far :)

Offline Acetrak

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 09:46:56 »
Impressive, I like the colors you picked, well done
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Offline SpAmRaY

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 09:49:46 »
I'm really liking that 'carbon fiber' cable

Offline Badwrench

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 10:31:42 »
Those look great!  I have been doing mine with shaved down existing cables - yours look so much better. 
wut. i'd buy a ****ty IBM board for that green V2

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 11:47:47 »
Thanks for all the compliments people.  I'll be sure to post some more pics in a little bit.  They're actually a lot of fun to make.

Looks nice, nubbinator. Did you soldered the A side from scratch, or did you recycle a premade USB cable and just sleeved it? Is that grey one actually steel or paracord that is colored grey?

I used donor cables for this first set.  So the USB A side you see is still the one from the cable.  Once I get my parts from Bhiner (who, like with you, decided it would be nice to charge me for shipping...again), I'll be soldering my own USB A leads on.  I may buy a 100' spool of USB cable and make custom lengths until that spool is gone as a way to actually have some sort of income while looking for work.  In that case, all the cables will be soldered on both ends instead of chopping up cables.

Like Jocelyn said, it's Kobra.

Ah so carbon fiber, not really metal. I wonder where George gets his dark stainless steel ones.

It's actually that plastic type material the MDPC-X and Bitspower use.  I've seen stainless and a few other metal sleeving at a few places, it's just an expensive one to buy first compared to the other sleeving options.

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 16:56:37 »
As promised some updated, better quality pictures.  And, as you can see looking at the pictures, since the USB A side hasn't been done yet, the sleeving isn't pulled perfectly tight yet.  They'll look better when finished.


I'll start off with Jocelyn's cables:







That green color does not like to photograph well.

Here's eyesmile's Glissant auction cable:



Here's affect656's Glissant auction cable



And here are the two I'm making with the other cables I had:





More will come when I get more USB cable.

Offline Dubsgalore

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 17:01:47 »
My Favorite is eyesmile's
they all look pretty cool nub
will you be doing this more in the future?

Offline tjcaustin

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 17:06:11 »
Looks good

Also, I'm assuming he was supposed to send you the ends that snap on instead of slip?

Thanks.

Yeah, they were.  I actually purchased them and they're sitting there at Bhiner, they just didn't put it in my package.

Hmm, I may have to get some to try.  I don't mind too much how the slip on look and feel, but they seem like there's a better way.

Offline Jocelyn

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 17:24:48 »
Wow! Everyone of them looks fantastic! Thanks again Nubbinator :)

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 24 May 2013, 17:45:09 »
My Favorite is eyesmile's
they all look pretty cool nub
will you be doing this more in the future?

Thanks.  His is pretty nice, but I do like some of the multicolor ones.  When I get more cable, I'll post some of those and how they look.

Yes, I'll be doing more in the future and will be selling some that are custom order colors and lengths and some that are made with what I have on hand.  Mimic, Pexon, and Paranoid cables were just too expensive for me when I went looking for some custom cables of my own.  This way lets me make some for myself at a fraction of the cost and lets me make a little money while I'm looking for work.  I have parts for about 50 of them and will be doing them as either DIY kits where you source your own sleeving or as a service like these. 

I may do a little more than the initial 50 kits/cables if there's more demand for it, but it's mainly a short term thing I'm doing while I'm looking for work to help pay for some key caps/keyboards, my experiments I've been doing, and as gifts to some people who've been really awesome to me on here.  Of course, trying to cast my own metal key caps isn't the cheapest thing nor are the "artisinal" wooden key pullers I'll be making shortly.  If you can't tell, I really love to try new things and experiment and it's something that keeps me sane right now.   

Hmm, I may have to get some to try.  I don't mind too much how the slip on look and feel, but they seem like there's a better way.

Yeah, I like the looks of the locking ones, but I may not be super keen on the material when they get to me.  I bought them because they're easier to hide the sleeving/heatshrink up in.  They're also easier to work with with how I like to do my joints.  After I solder my wires in place, I like to squirt some hot glue around them to insulate them and give them a little extra strength.  It may be ugly, but it works great and is a time honored tradition in electronics.  And it's inside the housing, so you'll never see it.

Wow! Everyone of them looks fantastic! Thanks again Nubbinator :)

Thanks.  I'm itching to finish them and get them shipped off.

Offline eugenizer

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #22 on: Mon, 27 May 2013, 13:42:39 »
where can i get the mini usb connector?

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #23 on: Mon, 27 May 2013, 14:04:15 »
where can i get the mini usb connector?

I got mine off of Taobao, but some sites like Digikey or Mouser may have them.  You really have to search around.  Just know that buying one will be expensive.  Expect to pay at least $5 including shipping for one. 

Offline Photoelectric

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #24 on: Sat, 01 June 2013, 18:15:28 »
Very nice!  Are they glossy with light shining on them or do they actually have silver threading?  I like that effect.
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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #25 on: Sat, 01 June 2013, 18:17:44 »
That purple is NICE!But why isn't the heat shrink on it yet?
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Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #26 on: Sat, 01 June 2013, 18:32:54 »
That purple is NICE!But why isn't the heat shrink on it yet?

I'm waiting on my USB A ends to arrive from Bhiner since they screwed up my order (and made me pay shipping twice, but that's another story).  Once that's done, the tiny bit of heatshrink I need will be inside the housing.  There's already heatshrink on them and hidden in the housing on the mini B side.

Offline samwisekoi

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #27 on: Sat, 01 June 2013, 20:03:23 »
Really nice!

Could you make one with mini-USB on the keyboard end and micro-USB at the other end to connect to a tablet?

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Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #28 on: Sat, 01 June 2013, 21:14:21 »
Really nice!

Could you make one with mini-USB on the keyboard end and micro-USB at the other end to connect to a tablet?

 - Ron I samwisekoi

I probably could, but the connectors and housings are much more difficult to source than with USB mini B, USB B, and USB A.  The easiest would be to make a double ended USB mini B cable and use a USB mini B to micro USB adapter like this.

Offline samwisekoi

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #29 on: Sun, 02 June 2013, 09:46:42 »
Really nice!

Could you make one with mini-USB on the keyboard end and micro-USB at the other end to connect to a tablet?

 - Ron I samwisekoi

I probably could, but the connectors and housings are much more difficult to source than with USB mini B, USB B, and USB A.  The easiest would be to make a double ended USB mini B cable and use a USB mini B to micro USB adapter like this.

Not something like this (to reduce cable clutter)?  http://www.lindy.co.uk/05m-usb-otg-cable-black-type-micro-a-to-mini-b/31957.html

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Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #30 on: Sun, 02 June 2013, 12:47:04 »
Not something like this (to reduce cable clutter)?  http://www.lindy.co.uk/05m-usb-otg-cable-black-type-micro-a-to-mini-b/31957.html

 - Ron | samwisekoi

Looking at the parts, they're very difficult to source.  I've found one housing that might be solderable and a metal housing for it, but no hood.  Alternatively, I could just cannibalize an existing cable to sleeve.  Either way, I could do one if you don't mind one end being heatshrinked.  If you don't want a heatshrinked end and a cleaner looking cable, you'd have to do the adapter. 

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #31 on: Sun, 09 June 2013, 17:29:47 »
Finally got my parts in from Bhiner and was able to finish a couple:

eyesmiles' cable:



affect656's cable (he wanted the ends heatshrinked):



Jocelyn's cables:







And one of the other cables I've got:


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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #32 on: Mon, 10 June 2013, 21:05:53 »
Finished a pair of 6' cables today.




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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #33 on: Mon, 10 June 2013, 21:25:14 »
Awesome cables!!! Thank You nubbinator :)

Offline hoasican2004

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #34 on: Mon, 17 June 2013, 22:35:54 »
how much money of one ?? ^-^

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #35 on: Mon, 17 June 2013, 23:30:34 »
how much money of one ?? ^-^

I should point you toward my for sale/want to trade thread in the classfieds since this isn't really the right place to talk about prices.  That said, I've been charging $16 USD + shipping for a 3' cable and $22 + shipping for a 6' cable, a little more if the ends are heatshrinked in addition to having housings or if I'm buying a custom color for you alone instead of buying with some other colors for other cables.
« Last Edit: Mon, 17 June 2013, 23:34:33 by nubbinator »

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #36 on: Tue, 18 June 2013, 12:04:07 »



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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #37 on: Tue, 18 June 2013, 12:24:59 »
Show Image


Show Image


nubs what color is that top one.....I'm guessing that'd be toxic or safety green? chartreuse?

Same color as the shirt I'm wearing haha!

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #38 on: Tue, 18 June 2013, 13:29:17 »
nubs what color is that top one.....I'm guessing that'd be toxic or safety green? chartreuse?

Same color as the shirt I'm wearing haha!

It's sold as yellow, but it's more of a neon yellow.  It's just that it's a semi-transparent (or should I say semi-opaque) yellow.   It and the green are two colors that are really hard to capture accurately.  I'd probably have to set up a light box and play for an hour with the lighting and camera settings to get it just right instead of doing my usual sheet of aluminum and natural lighting.

Offline Goodfella

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #39 on: Tue, 18 June 2013, 13:30:29 »
I will have some more shots of the green cable soon  :cool:
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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #40 on: Tue, 18 June 2013, 17:51:13 »
nubs what color is that top one.....I'm guessing that'd be toxic or safety green? chartreuse?

Same color as the shirt I'm wearing haha!

It's sold as yellow, but it's more of a neon yellow.  It's just that it's a semi-transparent (or should I say semi-opaque) yellow.   It and the green are two colors that are really hard to capture accurately.  I'd probably have to set up a light box and play for an hour with the lighting and camera settings to get it just right instead of doing my usual sheet of aluminum and natural lighting.

Is that the mdpc-x yellow?  I have the same thing over a black wire and it looks dramatically different. 
wut. i'd buy a ****ty IBM board for that green V2

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #41 on: Tue, 18 June 2013, 18:31:24 »
Is that the mdpc-x yellow?  I have the same thing over a black wire and it looks dramatically different.

No, It's Kobra.  It's the first Kobra sleeving I haven't been 100% happy with, not for the quality, but for the coloring.  It would look better with a more solid color like the MDPC-X appears to be.  I should have known given it was called UV Yellow, but the pictures were deceptive.  It still looks interesting over a white cable, just not as good as a solid.  I don't think I'll be ordering the color again though or any of their UV colors unless someone explicitly asks for it.

There are some MDPC-X colors I like, it's just they've been too expensive for me. If I got some people who committed to buying some with MDPC-X, I'd grab some.  As my first foray and experiment into sleeving USB cables and given the fact that I've been out of work for far too long now, I couldn't really justify spending that much money.  In the future that may change though.

Offline Badwrench

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #42 on: Wed, 19 June 2013, 00:04:29 »
No worries buddy, I will hook you up. 
wut. i'd buy a ****ty IBM board for that green V2

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #43 on: Thu, 27 June 2013, 19:40:32 »
Did several new cables in green, carbon fiber grey, and white over teal.








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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #44 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 20:30:29 »
A little teaser of some potential forthcoming cables:



Still in the prototype stages right now, but it seems to be working great and holding up well.  It's just not as springy as I would like, though it does comfortably expand to 3-4' from the 1' 6" it measures at normally.  All that down from a 6' length.  I plan on making the tails longer in future cables so it's closer to 2' or 2' 6" resting.

Offline Dubsgalore

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #45 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 20:34:12 »
very nice nubbs! count me in for one ;)

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #46 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 20:45:23 »
very nice nubbs! count me in for one ;)

Thanks!  I'm still trying to figure out what to do with this first one.  I may send it off for review or may sell it off and give all my profit to the SmallFry memorial if we get something set up (which I hope we do).

Offline Dubsgalore

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #47 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 21:07:32 »
very nice nubbs! count me in for one ;)

Thanks!  I'm still trying to figure out what to do with this first one.  I may send it off for review or may sell it off and give all my profit to the SmallFry memorial if we get something set up (which I hope we do).

I'll do a review ;)
in all honesty i think the last thing might be a good idea

Offline nubbinator

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Re: Making some USB cables
« Reply #48 on: Wed, 03 July 2013, 18:32:12 »