I plan on making custom USB cables and I need sources for parts.
November 3, 2011 10:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to buy a supply of cable that would be ideal for making USB cables. Also are there any suppliers for tips and ends that can supply to Canada? I'm tired of crappy usb cables that are never the lengths that I want them to be.

I'm not looking for a supplier for extravagant usb cabling solutions I just essentailly want a small to medium sized reel of Decent standard wire how Cat6 wire is to Ethernet I want this wire to be what I shoot for when buying usb cabling.

Also if anyone happens to know a good supplier for headphone cabling that would be awesome also :) my SteelSeries headset on my computer is getting terrible connectivity due to a shoddy cable.
posted by Chamunks to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My guess would be that it would be extremely hard for the average individual to build a custom USB cable. The connectors have to be soldered directly to the cable to ensure a good data connection and then sealed with the boot and cable wrapping. I don't think it would be even possible to solder a mini or micro usb cable.
posted by dyno04 at 11:40 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Looks like companies do sell bulk cable and wiring: L-Com

Don't know about shipping to Canada.
posted by dyno04 at 11:44 AM on November 3, 2011

Best answer: I don't know if they carry USB-specific cable, but I heartily recommend Clark Wire and Cable for anything audio.
posted by werkzeuger at 11:58 AM on November 3, 2011

I had to solder a usb cable back together for a custom underwater webcam. Took the plastic off and soldered the wires to the old connector (needed to for packaging reasons). It sucked. Too small and fiddly. If I was doing it again I would just buy a longer USB cable and just cut it in the middle. It would be way easier to solder the individual wires together in the middle, cover each with heat shrink, and then a larger one to cover the whole thing than it is to solder that friken connector on. Keep in mind that you cant go longer than 5m without a repeater cable.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 12:15 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: [quote] My guess would be that it would be extremely hard for the average individual to build a custom USB cable.[/quote]
I crimp all of my own ethernet cable and have since highschool I hate paying too much for cable. It supprises me that there arn't any crimp tools for USB... this whole concept just shocks me.

They have crimp tools for pretty much every other standard data cable.
posted by Chamunks at 12:17 PM on November 3, 2011

I almost hesitate to post this site here, given how bad and out-dated the webpage looks, but Orion Electronics might be a good place to start. It's one of those places with miles of cable on spools and every type of end and connector in bins. It's got brand-new, never out-of-the-box monitors and keyboards from the late 80s. It's not a big store by any means, but it would take somebody days and days to dig through all of the inventory (and figure out what some of it actually is).

I don't know about their shipping policies, but they should be able to answer that question with a single phone call.

Another place you can try is K-W Surplus. Again, I have no idea about the shipping policy (if any).

I take it you've tried places like Tiger Direct. Again, I don't know if they sell cable by the foot/yard/metre.
posted by sardonyx at 12:19 PM on November 3, 2011

Response by poster: Also the usb cable information is fully laid out on the wikipedia article for proper wiring and such. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB
I'm just sure that someone else who knows more than I about cabling would know a better type of wire for this than me.

I was thinking that possibly even just using Cat6e wire for gigabit Ethernet would be good as its spec is fairly decent for Anti Crosstalk and other things as such.
posted by Chamunks at 12:21 PM on November 3, 2011

Response by poster: sardonyx I'm guessing you live in the KW region :P
posted by Chamunks at 12:22 PM on November 3, 2011

Well if you want another K-W one, try here.

You didn't list what area of the country you're in, so I can't post anything local-to-you (if I have any links at my fingertips). K-W is a bit of a technology hotbed, so it's just the first place that comes to mind on my go-to list.
posted by sardonyx at 12:32 PM on November 3, 2011

There's also Provo. They're big enough that they should ship, although you may need to purchase larger quantities.
posted by sardonyx at 12:36 PM on November 3, 2011

Response by poster: Well I plan on getting pretty involved in the electronics repair business and it would be nice to be able to supply decent products like these.
posted by Chamunks at 12:38 PM on November 3, 2011

The max length from the USB spec is 16ft. I'm not sure why you want to make your own when you can already get them in 1.5, 3, 6, 10, 15 feet lengths. (and all for under $2 complete)
posted by wongcorgi at 12:42 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Generally because the usb cables that you can buy for those prices are just crap I just want some that reliably don't suck. I dont need gold tips or anything silly like that. I guess that I'm a bit picky when it comes to my cords and plus I have some ideas if i can find some crimp-able tips.

My question would be why wouldn't you want to buy/make your own usb cables?
posted by Chamunks at 12:49 PM on November 3, 2011

Just because it's cheap doesn't make it crap. Just buy them from monoprice.

That said, I dont think I've ever seen a USB cable go bad.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:20 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I've had plenty go bad.
posted by Chamunks at 1:32 PM on November 3, 2011

By the way, the max length for *unpowered* USB is 5m (16 feet)-- the max length for sending power is 3m (10ft, give or take).

I heartily endorse monoprice. They undercut every shelf-price I've ever seen, and their failure rate is no worse. I too have seen USB cables fail, but I've ordered by the pound from monoprice for work and I've not noticed any increase if failure rate.

For what I could pay for a 1/8" stereo miniplug male-to-male 6-footer at my local discount department store, I could've bought the 72-footer from monoprice, shipped.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:25 PM on November 3, 2011

Best answer: There are, in fact USB A and B full-size solder-on connectors - Here's one from Amazon that looks similar to the ones I've personally used and found quite satisfactory. I put shrink-wrap on the outside of mine to streamline the whole thing, but to each their own.
posted by Orb2069 at 11:23 PM on November 3, 2011

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