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Why Are USB-A Connectors So Frail?

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Beth Stackpole
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Never a problem with USB connectors
Beth Stackpole   1/19/2012 7:22:34 AM
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I read this post with great interest waiting for the "aha" moment when I too could say, I experienced that as well. I have to say with all of the devices/laptops/desktops scattered around my house/home office, I have never, ever had a problem with a frail USB connector, despite the numbers of times I've connected/disconnected. I'm wondering if the USB connector is from a specific manufacturer or set of manufacturers and perhaps quality issues belies the problem rather than the actual USB-A connector standard.

antedeluvian
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USB-B
antedeluvian   1/19/2012 8:57:16 AM
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I have never had a problem with USB-A, but I have had a USB-B detach from a printed circuit board (part of the microcompuiter in-circuit emultaor) when I was trying to debug a product 500 miles from the office. In order to continue working I had to cut the USB cable and solder it directly to the PCB.

The problem was that there was no mechanical reinforment of the connector which is mechanically held on by the surface mount solder connections only.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Never a problem with USB connectors
Rob Spiegel   1/19/2012 10:16:17 AM
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I've never had a problem with a USB-A either, Beth. Though I've always felt uncomfortable with the leverage factor. The way the thin USB-A sticks out of a laptop makes me think that dropping the laptop just a few inches at the right angle would snap the USB right off. So far, I've been careful not to drop my laptops.

Jennifer Campbell
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Re: Never a problem with USB connectors
Jennifer Campbell   1/19/2012 10:39:54 AM
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I've also never had a problem with USB connectors breaking, nor have I heard complaints from friends or co-workers regarding this issue. I wonder if this is a common problem for many or if there is some sort of wacky user error going on in the case of this author. In any event, the only problem I ever have is when I try to jam the connector into the slot, only to realize I have it upside down.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Never a problem with USB connectors
Rob Spiegel   1/19/2012 1:20:21 PM
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I agree with the upside-down problem, Jenn. In the posting, the user said you're going to hit it wrong about 50 percent of the time. I have a side-loading input in my laptop, so 50 percent misses are about right. Yet those misses don't seem to do any damage to either the USB-A connector or the laptop port.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Never a problem with USB connectors
Ann R. Thryft   1/19/2012 1:29:46 PM
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I'll add my 2 cents to the clamor and say I've never had a problem with USB connectors. The fact that the author says it's the female end, inside the device, which tends to break makes this a major problem, since it's relatively inaccessible.

I was puzzled by the author saying there's no indication on the male plug regarding which side is up. Uh, you must have a Windows machine. Macs have always indicated which end of the plug is up with a symbol.


naperlou
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Re: Never a problem with USB connectors
naperlou   1/19/2012 5:00:14 PM
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Well, Beth, I think you are lucky.  I have seen problems with these connectors.  Some just stop working.  Others seem to degrade.  I get messages that the device can go faster if plugged into a USB 2.0 port (when that has been how it worked all along).  I plug it into a different USB port and it works full speed. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Never a problem with USB connectors
Charles Murray   1/19/2012 6:56:35 PM
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I haven't had a problem with USB either, Rob. My laptop was purchased in 2005 and it's used the same mouse and same printer during that time. None of the USB connectors ever gave me a problem.

PCguy
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Iron
USB cables are marked
PCguy   1/20/2012 9:15:57 AM
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USB cables have the USB symbol on the top of the connector. This tells you which side is the top one. And it is easy to then know which way the cable is to be inserted. I double checked all the periherals and cables I have in the lab and all are marked this way.

I have plugged in a huge number of USB cables in using various laptops, testing systems or using development boards. I have never had a cable break. Any failure has been where the cable goes into the housing and this is because the cable is being pulled at a 90 degree angle to connect to where the peripheral or mouse must be.

Gusman
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Re: Never a problem with USB connectors
Gusman   1/20/2012 9:16:26 AM
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From Wikipedia (alive again today)

"The USB specification states that the required USB Icon is to be "embossed" on the "topside" of the USB plug, which "provides easy user recognition and facilitates alignment during the mating process". The specification also shows that the "recommended" (optional) "Manufacturer's logo" ("engraved" on the diagram but not specified in the text) is on the opposite side of the USB Icon. The specification further states "the USB Icon is also located adjacent to each receptacle. Receptacles should be oriented to allow the icon on the plug to be visible during the mating process".

 

Knowing this has simplified USB usage for me...all my PC's and Flash Drives, USB cables, etc adhere to this standard.

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