Instructables

Improvise a Female USB Connector

Picture of Improvise a Female USB Connector
Many of us have surplus 5 volt AC/DC chargers for cell phones we no longer use. Those chargers could be useful for a variety of power sources if there were a way to attach a female USB connector to the cord and do it for little or no cost. But, stores like Radio Shack do not list a female USB connector in their on-line inventory. USB cords with a female end are expensive unless you happen to have a non-working USB cord with a good female end. Improvising one's own female connector becomes an attractive option and others have done that. But, the base material for a connector needs to be quite sturdy, thin enough, and there needs to be a way to attach thin circuit traces. This Instructable is an approach I attempted. It worked with some devices, but not with others.

The photo shows the female USB connector on a car charger for a USB device.
 
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Step 1: Tools and materials

Picture of Tools and materials
An almost ideal material for a female USB plug that connects to a male USB cord end is an old circuit board from a defective computer power supply or some other defunct piece of electronic equipment.

Materials
  • An old circuit board
  • Solder
Tools
  • Low wattage soldering iron
  • Dremel with a cutting wheel
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill and bit

Bill WW1 year ago
Phil, while going thru my box of spare computer gadgets, I found several of these female USB connectors. They are used to connect to a five pin something-or-other, but I have never needed them. I plan to find which two of the five pins go to the + and - connections on the USB side and solder them to the 5v cell phone charger wires.
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Phil B (author)  Bill WW1 year ago
Bill,

One of my steps shows the correct connections and polarity. The power terminals are the outermost strips. Imagine your connector without the shroud, the brass strips facing you, and the front end pointing upward, the + or red will be on the left and the - or black will be on the right. You can also find polarity diagrams for various USB connectors on the Internet. A 5 volt power supply for general use can be very handy.
Bill WW Phil B1 year ago
Thanks Phil, I needed that info.

Have already used my only old 5v cell phone charger, will make a trip to the local Goodwill to find another.
Bill WW1 year ago
Thanks Phil, I had the need to make a similar connection, see my Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-great-little-book-light-from-recycled-elect/

My Instructable mainly explained, as you did, that the voltage supplied from many cell phone chargers and the voltage from USB is the same, 5 volt DC, so you can interconnect devices. But what I lacked was a good way to connect them. You provided that!
Phil B (author)  Bill WW1 year ago
Thanks, Bill. I like your book light. I wish I could say my USB connector from part of a circuit board worked perfectly in all applications. For a long time it has seemed there ought be something that could utilize old circuit boards.

I was in the nearest Fred Meyer store a couple of days ago and just outside the electronics department I saw a USB port with one male end and four female ends. It looks a little cheap, but functional. The price is under $7 and the female ends have short wire leads on them that beg to be cut and soldered to something else.

Did you see my Instructable on the homemade car ramps for a low car? I included a pressure switch operated by the front left tire. The switch turns on a 5 volt flashlight bulb resting on my lap or the shift console. It is powered by a phone's car charger.
CatalinRO1 year ago
Nice improvisation! That reminds me the way I used to improvise a serial cable for my Garmin GPS device from a plastic credit card and a serial cable ended with DB9 connector.
Phil B (author)  CatalinRO1 year ago
Thanks. I have usually thought of old circuit boards as waste. Something like this can give parts of them a new life. Your Garmin cable sounds interesting.
A good job, Phil. I love your creative solutions. Another good source for female USB connectors is old system boards.
Phil B (author)  emerson.john1 year ago
I stopped at a computer repair shop and asked if any old boards with a female USB connector were available, but, they said they had none. I did find a short USB extension cable for under $5, which is not too bad. Thanks for looking and for commenting.
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