Introduction: 4-in-1 USB to Mini • Micro • Lightning • 30-pin Connector Cable

Picture of 4-in-1 USB to Mini • Micro • Lightning • 30-pin Connector Cable

Portable devices like smartphones, iPods, GPS devices and more are supposed to make our lives easier. But they all use different USB connectors (micro, mini, 30-pin, Lightning...), so if you leave the wrong cable at home, all you've got is an expensive paperweight. Bring every cable and you've got a tangled, bulky mess.  

To pare down to 1 cable, I bought some connector tips (see Step 1), each with a different end, but I kept losing them.  I saw several 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 connector cables on the market, but many had low ratings, none had all the connectors I needed, and I wanted to make use of what I already had, so I decided to see what I could come up with.  

One of the connector tips, from Lenmar, had a handy loop built in. I used a small cellphone strap with a split ring and lobster clip to attach it to the cable (see Step 2). I had a few on hand that had come with other products, but it also turns out you can buy them in bulk fairly cheaply.

None of the other connector tips had a friendly attachment loop built in.  Enter the Sugru and a paper clip! (see Step 3). As a bonus, I stamped my initials into the Sugru, so not only did I add an attachment loop, I also id'd them as mine.

The result is my own flexible 4-in-1 connector, pictured below.  This cable is small enough to fit just about anywhere.  I can charge from my laptop, a wall charger or my lovely little Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus which uses rechargeable AA batteries.  And, if the inputs or outputs on my future devices change, my adapter cable can change with it.

Enjoy!

Step 1: Gather Your USB Cable and Connector Tips

Picture of Gather Your USB Cable and Connector Tips
Look at your devices and figure out which connector tips you need. Use the photo to identify a few different types of USB connectors.

Common connectors include:
  • the standard flat USB
  • USB mini - commonly found on cameras and older phones or bluetooth devices
  • USB micro - flatter and smaller than USB micro, commonly found on newer devices, including phones and bluetooth
  • Apple 30-pin - found on iPhones through iPhone 4, iPods through __, and iPads through iPad 3
  • Apple Lightning connector - found on iPhones 5 and up, iPods __ and up, and iPads 4 and up
I had a USB to USB-micro cable handy, and I'd purchased a micro-to-30-pin connector tip as well as a micro-to-mini connector tip. When I got an iPhone 5, I purchased a micro-to-lightning connector tip, too. These had all been under $10 each, most under $5.

Note: Be careful to match the direction of your connector tips - female-to-male (inny-to-outy) vs. male-to-female - so they're all compatible. Since I'm using a USB cable with a male micro USB end (far right in photo), all my connector tips have female micro USB connections (on the ends you can't see in the photo) and male mini, 30-pin or Lightning connectors on the ends you can see.

Step 2: Add a Paperclip-and-Sugru Loop to the Connector Tip(s) As Needed

Picture of Add a Paperclip-and-Sugru Loop to the Connector Tip(s) As Needed
Since some of the connector tips didn't have a loop to attach them to my cable, I added loops, using bent paper clip bits held in place with Sugru.  Just for fun and a bit of ID, I use letter sets to add my initials. I made this over 6 months ago, use it almost daily, and travel and hike with it, and it hasn't come apart.

Tools & materials:
  • Needle nose pliers/wire cutters or equivalent
  • a paper clip or two
  • 1 pack of Sugru
  • USB connector tips of your choice
  • Optional: superglue
Instructions:
  1. Straighten a short bit of paperclip and cut it off
  2. Use the needle nose pliers to bend it into the shape of a '6' or similar (see piece in photo). Aa 'U' shape might easily pull out, but if you bend the paper clip so it has a tail, that will help hold it in place. 
  3. Place the paperclip loop on a flat side of the connector in a way that won't block either end - optional: you can superglue the paperclip to the connector
  4. Press a lump of Sugru over the paperclip and smooth it out
  5. Optional: add your initials with letter punches, if you want
  6. Let dry overnight

Step 3: Attach the Connector Tips to the Cable

Picture of Attach the Connector Tips to the Cable
There are lots of ways to attach the tips to the cable.  Here's how I did it:
  1. Put a split ring on the cable itself, and add a lobster claw to the split ring.  
  2. Connect the cell phone straps to the tips using the split ring on each strap
  3. Then simply clip the other end of the strap onto the lobster claw
Done!  This one little cable will let me power or charge all my devices. I've added a lobster claw to a longer USB cable, because sometimes one tiny short cable just won't do. 

Comments

haugenka (author)2014-01-12

Carlos, I got the 30-pin connector and others from amazon.com. Thanks.

3366carlos (author)2014-01-12

very nice. where did you buy the connector Ipad connector (30 pin apple)?

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Bio: I love traveling, camping, backpacking, kayaking, especially with my family. I also enjoy helping kids write, draw and publish their awesome ideas. I am fascinated ... More »
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