Introduction: How to Run Sensor Cables Through USB Cables

You might have noticed that Phidgets sensor cables (and other sorts of electrical cabling) don’t always come in a convenient round shape, which you sometimes need. A relatively easy solution is to grab a length of USB cable and solder the sensor cable wires onto the USB wires, and here are some easy instructions to get it working.

Step 1: Materials

To make a cable, you’ll need:

  1. One or two Phidgets sensor cables
  2. A USB cable of appropriate length for your project
  3. Heat shrink (or electrical tape)
  4. Solder and soldering iron
  5. Wire strippers and wire cutters

Step 2: Cut and Strip the Wire

Cut off the ends of the USB cable. Strip 2-3 cm of the outer plastic, as well as the shielding. On each wire inside, strip 3mm off the end.

Cut the sensor cable in half, strip 3mm off the end of each wire.

Step 3: Solder

Cut one piece of wide (7mm diameter) heat shrink to 7cm and four pieces of narrow (2mm diameter) heat shrink to 3cm long each. Put the larger piece over the entire USB cable for later. Put the narrow pieces over each individual USB wire.

You can run up to two sensor cables through a USB 2.0 cable. The power (red) and grounds (black) will be shared. Make sure you clearly label which analog input (white wire of the Phidgets sensor cable) will be run through which wire in the USB cable (green or white), so you don’t mix them up on the other end.

Solder the cables together: black to black, red to red, and white to white (or green).

Step 4: Heat Shrink

Use the heat shrink (or electrical tape) to insulate the exposed wire.

Step 5: Heat Shrink (Second Pass)

You can then do another pass of heat shrink (or electrical tape) to tie everything together, but this is more of an aesthetic improvement.

Step 6: Repeat

Repeat for the other end of the cable.

If this worked for you, or if you have other suggestions that have proven successful, please leave a comment, or let us know that you've done it.

Originally posted on the Phidgets blog.

Comments

author
wilgubeast (author)2014-07-23

What sorcery is this?!

Clever clever. And it looks clean. A bit blown out in the final photo, but super clean.

author
phidgetsinc (author)wilgubeast2014-07-24

Haha, thank you. (not sure what you mean by blown out... like the heat shrink or the quality of the photos)

author
wilgubeast (author)phidgetsinc2014-07-24

The photo. I was just nitpicking you 'cause you're a big deal company and stuff, apparently, because it doesn't actually look blown out enough to comment upon. And I have done worse myself.

Let's pretend I stopped at the effusive praise in the above comment, and I'll run and put my foot in my mouth (not necessarily in that order for hygiene purposes.)

author
phidgetsinc (author)wilgubeast2014-07-24

Oh, yeah! Photography skills are not my strong suit... but I try.

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Bio: Phidgets make your ideas real. Reliable sensors, motor controllers, relays and more connect computers and technology to the real world. Applications include robotics, data acquisition ... More »
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