Make Solid Industrial-Grade USB Connections

DN Staff

January 27, 2011

2 Min Read
Make Solid Industrial-Grade USB Connections

A press release for an industrial computer arrived a few days ago and it included an image of a metal box with four standard USB connectors on the front. Anyone who has accidentally tugged on a wire and unplugged a USB cable from a PC knows these connectors–and connections–won’t last long in industrial environs. I’ve also seen “Industrial-Grade USB Hubs” with standard PC USB sockets.  Better cable connectors exist, but you’d never know it based on what some companies tout as “industrial-grade” or “rugged-grade” equipment.

Here’s an example of what a company calls an industrial-grade USB hub. Would you trust industrial equipment with standard USB connectors?

The people at Sealevel Systems created the SeaLATCH USB socket and plug to ensure a connection a loose cable cannot undo. The SeaLATCH socket attaches to a panel with screws–something many USB connectors do not do.  In addition, it provides a threaded hole that accepts a thumbscrew on USB cable plugs that Sealevel also manufactures.  The socket will also accept standard type-A USB plugs.  See the image below:


The back of a SeaLATCH socket provides a standard 4-pin Molex connector so you can easily connect to a USB port on a motherboard or in embedded computers. Sealevel also provides the SeaLATCH sockets pre-mounted on PCI frames or adapters so you can fit them in PCs with PCI cards. For information, visit:

The SeaLATCH doesn’t protect against moisture, dirt, or dust, though.  If you need a connector and socket pair that does, you can find rugged and waterproof assemblies and cables at: Amphenol also sells rugged USB connectors as well as hinged caps that protect unused rugged USB sockets. Here’s the link I found to the Amphenol products on the Mouser Web site:

During a search for more rugged USB connector suppliers I found several that advertise “rugged” devices, some with a “high-retention option,” but either they don’t explain it or don’t show how it works. In my opinion, for industrial use, you can’t beat a USB connector that screws into something or locks together with a mating device. That goes for other types of connections, too. After all, we have had screw-together RS-232 connectors for a long, long time. –Jon Titus

Disclosure: Over the years I have worked with Tom O’Hanlan at Sealevel Systems but I have no financial interest in the company or its businesses.

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