Sunday, September 30, 2007

USB on/off-switch mod

Last week I got the idea to create a USB-cable with an on/off-switch. This because I have several USB-devices (mug heater, mug chiller, reading light, battery charger, etc.) that have no on/off-switch and I think it's really tiresome having to unplug them every time I want them turned off.

So I looked up USB on Wikipedia and learned, amongst other things, that the 5V power that a USB-port supplies travels through the red wire inside the USB-cable. So it should really not be any more difficult than just cutting the red cable and connecting the ends to an ordinary on/off-switch that you can buy in any store that carries electronics and such.

It took me a couple of tries to get it right though. Inside a USB-cable there's not just the four wires (red, black, green and white) that send power and data back and forth but also foil that wraps around all four wires and a bunch of thin metallic wires and apparently this foil and possibly also the metallic wires should not be removed when pealing the outer insulation off the USB-cable because then it will not work. It took me three USB-cables to figure that one out. Very frustrating.

But anyway, on the third try I got it right and I now have a USB-cable with a nice on/off-switch mounted on it and I can turn my mug chiller on and off just like I do the reading lamp by my bed. Mission accomplished.


Darren said...

I needed to make an 'On Air' light for my studio, this is a really good method if you are limited for funds and have all the stuff you need!
(i used a long usb extension cable with a light built into it!)

Darren said...

I needed an 'On Air' light for my studio, i used this method using a long usb cable with built in ultra bright LED at each end.

Worked REALLY well! - just use the red wire and you're good to go!

Richard said...

Hello, Fighter Hayabusa; very creative to splice in an inline on/off to a USB cable. I was looking for a USB inline on/off switch -- couldn't find any. I can't even locate an appropriate switch to make one myself. What manufacturer and part number is the one you used? Thank you!

Richard --

Starr said...

you really inspired me to make this too, but i dont really know how... could you send me some pictures and explain how it works?
please let me know

Dazza said...

Hi all... all i did was used a switch that can be purchased really cheap from Maplin/Radio Shack type stores, and very carefully removed the outer sleeve to the USB cable. once inside i cut the red wire, placed the switch in the middle and soldered it together. i used a box to house the switch, but its not needed. of course, you only need to use one side of the switch prongs as you are only stopping a positive supply and nothing else. if you need anymore info, feel free to get hold of me at - good luck!