Personal computing discussed

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meerkt
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Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:55 pm

Variable device shapes and case wall thicknesses add an unknown, but you can account for that by making the socket side a few mm deeper than the plug spec.
Sometimes it fits, but I think more often it doesn't:

A 3.0, A 2.0 and 3.0, uB 3.0, B 3.0, C
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:02 pm

Is there some problem I'm not seeing? All of those pics look OK to me (with the possible exception of the last one).

Yes, I've had a couple of mini-USB devices where there was an issue, requiring me to shave down a little of the plastic surrounding the plug to get it to seat properly. But that was years ago. Only problem I've had in recent memory was with a micro-USB cable with a plug that wouldn't fit through the opening on my 3rd party phone case. But that was as much the fault of the case as the plug, and getting a cable with a slim style plug solved that.
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meerkt
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:09 pm

It works, but it doesn't go all the way in. It's not always the snugest, and the exposed metal collects dust/gunk.

just brew it! wrote:
shave down a little of the plastic surrounding the plug to get it to seat properly
The common problem is reverse: socket too shallow.
 
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:14 pm

Better that there be a little exposed metal from the plug than have the plug unable to go all the way in because the bezel gets in the way.

Not sure why you're concerned about having a little extra exposed metal. If it gets dusty just wipe or blow the dust off.

Having it always fit exactly would require rather tight manufacturing tolerances for both the outer bezels of all of your equipment and the plastic overmold of the cables.
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:48 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Better that there be a little exposed metal from the plug than have the plug unable to go all the way in because the bezel gets in the way.

Not sure why you're concerned about having a little extra exposed metal. If it gets dusty just wipe or blow the dust off.

Having it always fit exactly would require rather tight manufacturing tolerances for both the outer bezels of all of your equipment and the plastic overmold of the cables.

Doesn't the USB-C standard fix this problem?
 
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:11 pm

whm1974 wrote:
Doesn't the USB-C standard fix this problem?

First, JBI was trying to point out that it in fact is not a "problem." Second, no USB-C doesn't "fix" that because USB-C and USB-A have the same makeup. A piece of a metal protruding from the plastic cord/adapter on the male end. Just how it works. Some devices might fit tighter than the ones in the pictures above but we're not really talking about a different concept entirely.
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:16 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Not sure why you're concerned about having a little extra exposed metal.


I can see what he means. I mean, if you plug in a Lightning connector, that thing snaps in tight every time. Its reassuring. A bunch of USB devices I've used over the years have had unstable connectabilityness. Most of the time it's not too much of a problem, but part of me agrees it shouldn't be a problem at all. Perfectionism can sometimes triumph over practicality!
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:44 pm

FireGryphon wrote:
I can see what he means. I mean, if you plug in a Lightning connector, that thing snaps in tight every time. Its reassuring.

The keeper of the walled garden does manage to prune its flowers at the same height. USB also has physical and mechanical format restrictions but it's harder to police every single manufacturer.

In any case, USB in all physical formats (including -C) has a metal shield surround so that it doesn't matter if the plug fully inserts, there will be a stable electrical connection just so long as all four pins make contact inside the host port.
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:53 am

FireGryphon wrote:
A bunch of USB devices I've used over the years have had unstable connectabilityness.

That's not caused by part of the metal shell/shield being exposed. If the connection drops out if you wiggle the connector, that means the contacts (which are inside that metal shield and can't be seen when the plug is inserted) are defective or damaged; if it's just plain flaky, then the device or cable is out of spec.
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:44 am

It does seem that, if the USB port is in a location where I can't see it clearly (e.g. back of a computer case), I may spend a minute flipping the male connector over and over several times trying to get it to insert correctly (no jokes, please). Of course, that could be attributable to my own personal lack of grace and dexterity.
 
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:45 am

Lucky Jack Aubrey wrote:
It does seem that, if the USB port is in a location where I can't see it clearly (e.g. back of a computer case), I may spend a minute flipping the male connector over and over several times trying to get it to insert correctly (no jokes, please). Of course, that could be attributable to my own personal lack of grace and dexterity.

Yeah, the connector is not designed to be easily pluggable if you can't see what you're doing. But that's a completely separate issue...
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:59 am

just brew it! wrote:
Yeah, the connector is not designed to be easily pluggable if you can't see what you're doing. But that's a completely separate issue...

USB quantum superposition, to be exact.

http://innoculous.com/2016/01/the-quant ... usb-plugs/
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:51 am

Lucky Jack Aubrey wrote:
It does seem that, if the USB port is in a location where I can't see it clearly (e.g. back of a computer case), I may spend a minute flipping the male connector over and over several times trying to get it to insert correctly (no jokes, please). Of course, that could be attributable to my own personal lack of grace and dexterity.


That's just another point for Type-C connectors. They come in a single small size and insert in either direction. Out of a sample size of one device, I have to say it's considerably better in fit, form, and it even locks solidly in place. Meaning if I knocked the phone off a desk the connector will likely stay inserted.
 
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:12 pm

Kougar wrote:
Lucky Jack Aubrey wrote:
It does seem that, if the USB port is in a location where I can't see it clearly (e.g. back of a computer case), I may spend a minute flipping the male connector over and over several times trying to get it to insert correctly (no jokes, please). Of course, that could be attributable to my own personal lack of grace and dexterity.


That's just another point for Type-C connectors. They come in a single small size and insert in either direction. Out of a sample size of one device, I have to say it's considerably better in fit, form, and it even locks solidly in place. Meaning if I knocked the phone off a desk the connector will likely stay inserted.

Type-C is a great idea in theory. The reality is that almost everything everyone owns is already Micro and slowly converting everything is will continue to be a massive pain.

That reminds me that it's time to buy some Monoprice stock...
 
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:29 pm

Lucky Jack Aubrey wrote:
It does seem that, if the USB port is in a location where I can't see it clearly (e.g. back of a computer case), I may spend a minute flipping the male connector over and over several times trying to get it to insert correctly (no jokes, please). Of course, that could be attributable to my own personal lack of grace and dexterity.


Nope, it's because USB cables exist in 4 dimensional space.
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:30 pm

I'd like to see USB move to a mag-safe type connection. I had a "few" instances where I lifted the side of my laptop and bent my USB sticking out the opposite side.
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:36 pm

Cable manufacturers have to accommodate vendors making a USB-plug-shaped hole in the wall of the device it's being plugged into, which recesses the metal USB socket by the wall thickness. In those rare instances, the cable's moulding does indeed sit flush with the device.

It's more common on magnesium and aluminium unibody laptops than it is on PCs where the naked socket is usually exposed, but in the case of smartphones it has the added bonus of providing a little bit of clearance if the cutout in a protective case isn't quite large enough for the moulding of the plug.

As others have said, vendors will err on the side of caution:
  • Too much exposed male connector will just harmlessly stick out a little bit further.
  • Too little exposed male connector and the cable won't work at all. Game over man, game over.

Sadly, although USB-A is the default that will never die (and is already pretty slim at just 4.5mm), USB-C is struggling to gain traction because the single driving force that made people move to Micro-A from Mini-A was the smaller dimension. Miniaturisation and The Pursuit of Thin meant that Mini-A had a relatively short dominance in the portable market before being almost completely usurped by Micro-A. El-Cheapo chinese vendors (and they are the dominant product vendors of USB devices) have no reason to switch to the more expensive USB-C because it's no thinner. Micro-A is already plenty thin enough for their needs and until USB-C cables drop in price to Micro-A levels, nothing is going to change.
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:05 pm

The move to micro A was also driven by the fact that the spring contacts (which are prone to wear/damage) were moved from the device (jack) side to the cable (plug) side. Makes more sense to have the bit that is more likely to wear out on the cable, since that is cheaper to replace.
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:30 pm

just brew it! wrote:
The move to micro A was also driven by the fact that the spring contacts (which are prone to wear/damage) were moved from the device (jack) side to the cable (plug) side. Makes more sense to have the bit that is more likely to wear out on the cable, since that is cheaper to replace.

Downside of micro-A being the clips are on the outside of the connector shell and can be readily damaged. USB-C moves the clips inside the shell and to the sides.
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:47 pm

Vhalidictes wrote:
Type-C is a great idea in theory. The reality is that almost everything everyone owns is already Micro and slowly converting everything is will continue to be a massive pain.

That reminds me that it's time to buy some Monoprice stock...


Of course, but there's not exactly any quickfixes to that. At least consumers can now try to buy new devices with USB-C. It's become the first thing I look for on devices and recommend now. I'm crossing fingers the next revision to the Kindle Paperwhite gets around to adding one.
 
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:55 pm

Looking at my laptop today and usb-c, usb-a, mini-dp and the power cable all had roughly the same amount of exposed metal. Not much of a problem in my book.
 
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Re: Why do USB connectors (almost) never fit well?

Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:14 am

ludi wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
The move to micro A was also driven by the fact that the spring contacts (which are prone to wear/damage) were moved from the device (jack) side to the cable (plug) side. Makes more sense to have the bit that is more likely to wear out on the cable, since that is cheaper to replace.

Downside of micro-A being the clips are on the outside of the connector shell and can be readily damaged. USB-C moves the clips inside the shell and to the sides.

At least it's on the cable. I'd rather replace a cable than send my phone in for repair.
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