Instructables

Organize cables with magnets


I was sick of the mess of cables to hook up cameras, external hard drives, phones and other paraphernalia to my computer. Luckily much of it has moved on to use the various sizes of USB, but some companies still use proprietary shapes.

I made use of the metal case on the computer to organize things a bit.
 
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Step 1: The only step...

Picture of The only step...
on the casejpg.jpg
Of course there are not too many instructions to this.

Glue a neodymium magnet to a hard part of the cable. I used Gorilla Glue and it's standing up well so far. I glued mine to the PC side USB end on one side and the choke (the lump in the cable) on the other side. I like the magnet on the choke because I can grab the end of the cable and the magnet just pulls off and flops into place against the case, no fiddling.

If you  don't have enough USB plugs to keep the other end of the cable plugged in, and if you have a choice of cables lying around, use different colour cables so you can distinguish between them without having to follow them along to the computer.
weesuzi2 years ago
the macbook has a powerful little magnet to dock the power cord jack to the female receiver.
The power transformer in your desktop pc is also magnetic
the HDD as stated also has magnets.
I would imagine the risk is very small, otherwise those smart fridges of the future are all sunk from day one. Not a happy thought now is it?
Aren't magnets harmful to HDs?
berserk (author)  hockeyandbeer3 years ago
Magnets are also part of hard drives. I am pretty confident there is no problem here, partly because my PC has been fine in the few months since I actually set this up. I wish I could remember enough physics to explain why, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that the metal case diffuses the magnetic field and also with the fact that a magnetic field diminishes very quickly with distance, There are more knowledgeable geeks on Instructables than me - can anyone else explain this better?
Magnets cause 'Flipped Bits' so while your data and hdd may be fine, this can definitely affect your transfer speeds and possibly corrupt data in the future.

The benefit to this may not be worth the risk.
berserk (author)  dennis55873 years ago
I am not sure what you mean by corrupting the data "in the future"... can you explain?
My understanding is that a magnet will only affect electricity in a wire near it if the two are moving relative to each other. Since the magnets in this case are glued right onto the cable they stay in the same position, so the field should be static, and there should not be an effect on the data.
Any more physics-oriented people out there who could comment on this?
Aside from the theoretical, the cables have been like this for almost 6 months now, and all has been working fine so far. Also, it's one of the modifications that is still in daily use, I have been finding it really convenient.
As stated in my last response, a magnet has the ability to "flip a bit" meaning it can change a 1 to a 0 or a 0 to a 1. If this small magnet is flipping bits then you may experience one of the two side affects, slower transfer speeds or currupt data.

Since I am not entirely sure what checks are implemented in the transfer of data over USB, I can not say which possible side affect you may suffer. For example, when you transfer data over a wired network it is checked to make sure that what was transferred did not suffer any corruption during its travel. If it did then that packet must be re-sent. This can cause a noticeable change to the realized transfer speed. In some more extreme circumstances the currupt data can get so bad that data transfer is almost impossible.

If USB includes these checks then there may be a slow down in the transfer speeds. However if USB does not include these checks then that means the data being transferred is being stored currupted. This is a small magnet so there may not be many flipped bits, but given enough over a long enough period of time, it may come back to haunt you.

However like I said, I am not entirely sure of the USB protocols so I may be completely wrong :-)
berserk (author)  dennis55873 years ago
I think you are correct on the error checking note, in that USB does have error checking, and in that even with that in place there would still be delays if data had to be resent.
However, I still doubt that a stationary magnet will affect the electricity in a cable. How do you propose the "bit flipping" would work? Can you refer somewhere about this, e.g. a link?
USB uses CRC checks for two aspects: tokens (CRC-5, x^5 + x^2 + 1) and data (CRC-16, x^16 + x^15 + x^2 + 1). This is outlined at www.usb.org/developers/whitepapers/crcdes.pdf .
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