Extend USB Cables Using Phone Jack Cable

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Introduction: Extend USB Cables Using Phone Jack Cable

About: Whats up everybody? I'm a crazy rebellious metal-head that enjoys a good conspiracy theory. I despise the state I live in (MA), with their ridiculous, California-esque gun laws, and outrageous taxes. The win...

Those dinky little USB cables that come with every device now-a-days are often to short to even reach the USB port from a reasonable distance. Well, I was tired of these cables, and I decided to find a way to make them longer. Paying for (also) very short USB extension cables was out of the question, so I knew I had to put my soldering skills to the test. What I did have was a ton of old phone cables lying around (the four pin kind). If you don't have any (they give you extras every time you buy a new phone), then they are cheaply available at places like Sears, RadioShack, or any other place that sells telephones. You could also try eBay for used or even bulk cable. NOTE: soldering skills are required for this Instructable.

Step 1: Materials

What you will need:
Soldering equipment
Heat shrink tubing (optional)
Electrical tape
Wire strippers and/or cutting pliers (scissors as alternative)
The USB cable you want to extend
Regular telephone cable

Note: Make sure the telephone cable you are using has four pins in it!

Step 2: Preparation

First, start by cutting the USB cable directly in half. This way, if any mistakes are made, you can chop that part off and you'll still have some cable left to work with.
Next, getting as close to the connector as possible, cut off the connectors of the phone cable.

Now the cables are ready to stripped. Take off about an of the outer jacket only to expose the inner wires using the cutting pliers. If you happen to cut into one of the wires, just chop the rest off and try again on the next section of cable.

Optional: If using the heat shrink tubing, slip one over either end of the telephone cable and push it down it away from the working area. It is used at the end.

Gently strip a centimeter or less from each of the wires. (Yeah, 16 wires is kind of irritating). You are now ready to begin soldering.

Step 3: Soldering

I need to first address something that similar Instructables did not. The coloring of the wires does not matter. Just make sure that the colors you matched up between the USB cable and the phone cable are the same on both sides. For example, if you have the black wire in the USB cable going to a blue wire in the phone cable, the other side must have the black USB wire going to the blue phone wire. Although phone cables normally use a similar color scheme as USB (black, red, green, white), sometimes the colors are a little different. This doesn't matter.

One end at a time, solder each wire of the USB cable to one wire of the phone cable until all four have been soldered. Take note of the colors you matched up. Now solder one wire at a time on the other side, paying attention to your previous color match-ups.

Step 4: Finishing Up

Once everything is soldered, wrap a small piece of electrical tape around each solder connection, making sure no bare wire is exposed. If you are using the heat shrink tubing, slide it up over the connections now and shrink it. If not, use electrical tape to wrap all showing wire so all that is visible is the jackets of the cables.

You're done! Now let's test it...

Step 5: Testing

Plug the USB cable in like you normally would for the device. Confirm that it transfers data, and if it charges, make sure it is doing so. If everything appears normal, your done!
If for some reason your cable doesn't work, take off all electrical tape/heat shrink tubing and check all the connections. Are they soldered properly? Do all the colors line up? If everything looks fine, and you're still having trouble, send me a PM and I will respond as quickly as possible.

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    40 Discussions

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    SrijanG4

    Question 4 months ago

    Can I connect two or more wires to extend usb cable by soldering?

    There is a lack of research here, and a lot of misunderstanding about cables, ie twisted pair or shielded etc.

    To put the record straight, its nothing do do with either of the above, you can have the best cable in the world, even fancy gold plated low resistance stuff, and the chances of getting any appreciable extra distance above the 5 metre limit is virtually zero.

    The reason for this is not interference, but the timing of the signals that USB uses. Two of the cores are for power, +ve and Ground (red and black) the other two, green and white are clock and data (signal). The clock is a chain of pulses thats used to synchronise the data between the device and the PC, the data, well its just that. What happens when you extend a USB cable is to add a delay in the signals, for example, when a USB sevice wants to send data to the PC, it will do so on the start of the clock pulse, and any data it then sends is kept in step with the clock. As you increase the length of the cable, you increase this delay, to such a point where the data ends up completely out of step and meaningless to the other end.

    There are other factors, but thats the reason in a nutshell.

    1 reply

    Hmm, could be the start of a poor-man'sTDR project. ;-)

    Usb cable great loses amperage. If you use to charge a smartphone, you must load with low amperage. How to solve this problem?

    Usb cable great loses amperage. If you use to charge a smartphone, you must load with low amperage. How to solve this problem?

    Hi.

    I need to extend the usb cable to 12 meter.

    Is there any point to try and make it ?(i don't want to spend time and get a message"usb not recognized"as other got).

    jomac_uk says that 5 meter is maximum and the quality of the cable doesn't matter(delay issue).other says that they done it with success.

    So i am not sure if there is a point to try it.

    what are you saying?is there any chance that it will work?

    Thanks in advance.

    You could also try cat5 or cat6 cable and just double up on the connections for better quality...

    I also got the same problem with flame boyyy.My computer said usb device not recognized.

    Can I ask, wich instructable are you referring to with:
    "I need to first address something that similar Instructables did not. The coloring of the wires does not matter." ?

    why does it tell me that my usb device is unrecognized when i plug the usb device into the cable?

    hai bulletride37,
    Brother,Thanks a lot...it worked for me for mounting my webcam.Without using any active usb extenders I got 5 meters! 5 meters includes the length of webcam cable.i also found out flash drives are working a bit more than 5 meters.but if I exceeds a lot more I will got "usb not recognized"popup i windows 7.

    2 replies

    Excellent, I'm glad I could help! Yes, some devices that aren't very sensitive can work with longer cords. The quality of the phone cable used also makes a difference in workable cable lengths, as better sheilded cable is less prone to outside interference.

    If you make multiple lengths of three meter and put the right usb hub(repeater) In between you can get the signal to go for hundreds of feet.

    Bro i have a Q!
    I m having a USB cable with a mesh sort of cover over the four wires. What is that conductor mesh for ? do i need to connect that too? like do i need to have five cores in the telephone cable ?

    i have two computers and a modem.i have plugged the lan cable for the first one and the usb cable to the other.i have to take my other pc downstairs. can i extend
    the usb cable with the phone cable?

    Would it also work with UTP CAT5 cable instead op shieleded wire to extend the cables of a webcam to about 50ft (15m)?

    1 reply

    As long as the cable is shielded, it should  work. Although if you have a finicky web-cam, it may not. Some devices, like iPods for example, may look like they connect, but won't transfer any data. For what it's worth, if you have the cable lying around, you might as well try.

    Good Idea! The two thing I worry about are signal loss & interference. (Most USB cables are shielded) I did something similar, so that I could use a webcam in a ROV.