USB Cable – The Ultimate Guide To Help You The Most

USB cable
Whenever we want to charge our mobile device, we make use of a USB cable. When we want to print a document, a USB cable enables us to transfer the file to the printer. The role that USB cables play in our day-to-day life cannot be overstated. In this post, we’re going to explore, in-depth, what USB cables are all about – their make-up, types, application, and cabling are all aspects we’ll delve into. Furthermore, how USB cables differ from other means of connection will be discussed. After that, we’ll examine the packaging and pricing of USB cables.

CHAPTER 1: What is a USB Cable?

 Right from their inception in the early 90s, they’ve continued to play an integral role in our lives. Interestingly, the evolution of USB cables has been super-dynamic. It is due to the ever-growing demand for faster and more reliable connections. We can say with near certainty that the future of USB cables is indeed bright.

USB (short for Universal Serial Bus) was developed in 1994 by seven companies: Microsoft, IBM, Compaq, Intel, Nortel, DEC, and NEC. It was created to ease the connection of peripheral devices – like printers, keyboards, mouse, disk drives and video cameras – to the computer for communication and the supply of power. The standardization of USB development by USB Implementer Forum (USB-IF) ensures that a pre-defined specification designs USB.

USB Connectors

Regarding size, USB connectors are classified into; standard format, mini and micro. Regarding speed, they are classified into low, full, high, SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+. A USB connector has two ends labeled as A and B. The A end is commonly the standard format and is connected to the computer. The B end is usually the mini or micro, and it is connected to the device. The ends of a USB connector are called plugs, while the opening in the computer or device that receives the plug is called the receptacles.

Objective

Before USB connectors were adopted, computer connectors came in an inconsistent variety of design and sizes. Using USB in the figure eliminates this inconsistency. The standardization of USB development greatly simplified the connection interface between computers and peripheral devices. This simplification is evident in several ways.

From the perspective of manufacturers, the USB standard eliminates the need to develop proprietary connectors. Manufacturers have great flexibility in the design of their devices since the variety of USB connectors that will ensure that they find one that is compatible with their design.

For end users, no manual adjustment is required on the devices when you plug a USB cable, i.e., they’re self-configuring. When plugging in the USB connectors, there is no need to reboot the computer devices as they are hot-swappable. Because USB development is standardized and regulated, we are guaranteed that USB cables will not cause any havoc to our devices.

Limitation

USB cables are usually short because they were created with the intention that peripheral devices will be near the host device. Therefore, inter-room connection via a USB cable is not feasible except through the use of gateways. USB devices cannot ensure communication between two hosts. A host can only communicate with a peripheral device individually; the i.e., broadcast signal is not possible. Even with the use of converters, USB cables might not work well with some legacy interface.

From the end of USB manufacturers, using the USB standard requires adherence to strict policies and complex protocols. Manufacturers have to pay the USB-IF to obtain a USB ID and to get the permission to use the USB logo on their product.

Related Standard.

With the substantial progress that has been made in wireless technology, the USB-IF has started the development of a USB based on wireless networking. Wireless USB is more efficient and faster (up to 480 Mbit/s) than cabled USB and will replace them shortly.

InterChip USB is a chip-to-chip variation of the USB that does away with the conventional transceivers present in a standard USB. They are more compact and power-efficient than a normal USB.

CHAPTER 2: USB Cable Type

 

USB Type A (or USB Standard-A connector)

Most host devices usually make use of a USB A connector. The USB-A socket is primarily used for downstream communication from a host to a peripheral device and not the other way around. The configuration of the host is such that a 5V DC power is supplied to the VBUS pin. It makes it impracticable to use USB-A for upstream connection from a peripheral to a host device. As a rule of thumb, it is advisable to ensure that one of the ends of any USB cable purchased is USB- A.

USB cable

Figure 1: USB Type A

USB Type B (or USB Standard B connector)

When you look at the ports on your printer or bigger peripheral devices, they are designed to suit a USB-B connector. This USB type was created to prevent accidental connection of two host devices. With better USB connector types that are being produced today, the USB-B connector is gradually running out of fashion.

USB cable

Figure 2: USB Type B

USB Type C

USB-C connectors are one of the latest USB interfaces in existence today. Like USB-A connector, they are used on host ports or devices with upstream sockets. Some new generation laptops and mobile devices have UBB-C connectors. USB-C connectors make use of the USB 3.1 standard and have a transfer speed of up to 10Gbps. They can also transmit higher power and serve as an alternative to HDMI for transferring video signals.

USB cable

Figure 3: USB Type C

USB Mini B

USB Mini B is a smaller version of the USB Type B for peripheral devices. By default, they contain five pins. However, an extra pin is added to enable USB On-The-Go (OTG). USB OTG allows peripheral devices to function as a host device.

The USB Mini B is predominant with the earlier versions of smartphones and digital cameras. They are now referred to as “legacy connectors” because the sleeker designs of modern phones no longer make use of them.

USB cable

Figure 4: USB Mini B

USB Micro B

The USB micro B is a reduced version of the Mini B. They were created to fit perfectly with the slimmer devices that are now ubiquitous. By default, they contain five pins and also allow USB OTG.

USB 3.0 Type A

The USB 3.0 Type A connector is primarily used for downstream connection from host devices. They share a similar design with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1. However, they possess additional pins that are absent in USB 2.0 A. This provides them with a greater bandwidth of 5Gbps and the ability to transmit lower data rate with backward compatibility to USB 2.0 ports. Also, they are colored blue and labeled “SS” to differentiate them from earlier designs.

USB 3.0 Type B

They are suited for peripheral devices like printers. They are the higher version of USB Type B. Therefore; they are equipped for SuperSpeed application and also for carrying USB 2.0 low-speed data at the same time.

Due to their different configuration, a USB 3.0 plug cannot fit into a USB 2.0 socket. However, the mating of USB 2.0 B male plug is possible with devices with USB 3.0 Type receptacles.

USB cable

Figure 5: USB 3.0 Type B

USB 3.0 Micro B (or SuperSpeed Micro USB B connector)

The USB 3.0 Micro B is just a USB 2.0 Micro B controller with five additional pins. These added pins are what increases the data transfer speed of the USB 3.0 Micro B. These connectors are found on 3.0 devices like hard drives, cell phones, and cameras.

Due to their different design configuration, USB 3.0 Micro B plug cannot fit into a USB 2.0 B socket. However, the mating of a USB 2.0 Micro B male plug is possible with devices that have USB 3.0 Micro B receptacles.

UCB cable

Figure 6: USB 3.0 Micro B

Due to their high data transfer speed, USB 3.0 Micro B connectors are now finding application in Machine Vision and 3D imaging.

USB 3.0 Internal Connector (20 Pin)

Intel invented the USB 3.0 Internal connector. It is used for connecting the external USB SS ports on the front panel to the motherboard. The 20-pin internal slot contains two lines of USB 3.0 signal channels. These channels can accommodate a maximum of two separate USB 3.0 ports. However, one channel data bandwidth cannot be shared.

USB 3.1 Internal Connector

Also created by Intel, the USB 3.1 internal connector cables are used to connect the front panel of USB ports to the motherboard. They also contain 20 pins but possesses a stronger design.

CHAPTER 3: USB Cable Application Field

 USB cables offer a wide range of practical applications, from mass storage to MTP. Some of the common applications include;

USB mass storage / USB drive

We all make use of flash drives and hard drives to store data. It is possible, thanks to USB cables. USB mass storage devices can also be used to boot computers. Although, they are not designed primarily to replace the primary bus for the internal storage of a computer. However, this ability makes hot-swapping operation feasible.

Similarly, USB storage devices can be used to run software on a computer without actually installing the software on the host computer.

Media Transfer Protocol (MTP)

MTP was developed by Microsoft and provides more access to the device file system than USB mass storage. Primarily, it was created for portable media devices. However, they are now being adopted as the primary storage in Android OS and Windows Phone 8 and 7. The major challenge with MTP is that it does not function in other operating systems apart from Windows OS.

Human interface devices (HIDs)

Human interface devices like keypads and joysticks are now using USB instead of MIDI or PC game port connectors.

For older computers that have PS/2 connectors, USB-to-PS/2 adapter can be used to connect them with USB mice and keyboards. Similarly, converters also exist that can be used to connect Ps/2 mice and keyboards to a USB port.

Device Firmware Upgrade (DFU)

DFU uses a mechanism independent of the vendor and device to upgrade the firmware of a USB device. Fixing errors requires such an upgrade. During a DFU, the device becomes a PROM programmer to ensure a successful upgrade operation in line with the standard DFU specs.

Unfortunately, DFU can also be used to upload malicious firmware in a USB device. A popular example of such an attack is known as BadUSB.

Audio streaming

USB is also widely applied in audio devices like microphones, headsets, musical instruments and speakers. The audio device specification is divided into three – Audio, 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 – and are based on bandwidth, speed, and power transfer.

CHAPTER 4: Cabling

 The cabling of USB cables is usually defined regarding length and speed.

For USB 1.1, a standard cable can be up to 5 meters long for devices operating at a top speed of 12 Mbit/s.

Cables with a maximum length of 3 meters are suitable for devices operating at a low speed of 1.5 Mbit/s.

USB 2.0 specifies a maximum cable length of 5 meters for devices operating on speed up to 480 Mbit/s.

USB 3.0 is specified regarding electrical requirement and not maximum length. For instance, a copper cabling with AWG 26 wires must not exceed 3 meters in length.

CHAPTER 5: Power

 As a rule of thumb, USB supplies power of 4.75 to 5.25V to downstream devices.

5.1Low-power and high-power devices

Low-power devices draw a maximum power of the 1-unit load. For USB 2.0, a load unit is 100mA, while a load unit is 150mA for USB 3.0. An excellent example of a low-power device is the keyboard.

High power devices consume anywhere between 1 and 5-unit load for USB 2.0 devices. For SuperSpeed devices, up to 6-unit loads can be drawn. Battery charging is an example of a high-power process.

CHAPTER 6: Comparisons With Other Connection Methods

 

FireWire

FireWire is a high-bandwidth serial bus that is used for interconnecting peripheral devices like disk drives and audio or video equipment. USB was initially created to complement FireWire (IEEE 1394), and so, have a lower sophistication and speed. In short, FireWire is better suited for connecting devices where higher power, performance, and speed is required. The high speed of FireWire is based on direct memory access, which is a low-level technique. It makes FireWire more susceptible to security attacks like DMA attack.

USB cable

Figure 7: USB cable

Ethernet

Ethernet has a higher power requirement than a USB. It functions on a voltage of 48V DC and can supply up to 13 W of power over 100 meters, whereas a USB can only supply power of 2.5W over a maximum cable length of 5 meters. It makes ethernet more practical for telephones and security cams.

Ethernet has a higher power requirement than a USB. It functions on a voltage of 48V DC and can supply up to 13 W of power over 100 meters, whereas a USB can only supply power of 2.5W over a maximum cable length of 5 meters. It makes ethernet more practical for telephones and security cams.

UCB cable

Figure 8: USB cable

Music Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)

It allows music data via USB. Although USB is cheaper for close range devices, MIDI plug is more suitable for high-end devices that need to transfer data over long distances. It is because USB can connect with ground interference. However, this cannot happen with MIDI since it is isolated.

UCB cable

Figure 9: USB cable

eSATA/eSATAp

The eSATA is suitable for devices where high speed is required, like external hard drives. eSATA transfer data at speed close to 6Gbit/sit, comparable with USB 3.0 that has a transfer rate of 5Gbit/s and USB 3.1 with a transfer speed of 10Gbit/s. However, unlike USB, eSATA does not supply power to the external device.

On the other hand, eSATAp supplies power to the external device. It can supply 5V power to a 2.5-inch HDD/SDD and even 12 V to larger devices.

Just like the USB, eSATA allows hot plugging.

Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt is a new serial data interface that integrates PCI Express and Mini DisplayPort. The original version of Thunderbolt has two channels, each of which has a transfer speed of 10Gbit/s. Together, they result in a 20Gbit/s unidirectional bandwidth. On the other hand, Thunderbolt 2 makes use of link aggregation to combine the two Gbit/s channels into a bi-directional 20Gbit/s channel. Finally, Thunderbolt 3 possesses a 40 Gbit/s channel.

USB cable

                                    Figure 10: USB cable

CHAPTER 7: USB Cable Packaging

 Due to their small size and lightness, USB cables are usually packaged in paper boxes or plastic boxes. These packaging materials are usually customized based on the manufacturer of the USB cables.
 

CHAPTER 8: USB Cable Price

 The price of a USB cable depends on its type, quality, and manufacturer. Higher quality USB cables tend to cost more than minor ones. Reputable manufacturers are known for producing high-quality USB cables. Wiringo offers factory prices and guarantees duration and quality. 
 

You can Click Contact Us To get instant quote.

MIDI to USB Cable: The Ultimate Custom Guide

Figure 7 Connecting electronic piano to iPad with iRig2 interface

The MIDI-USB cable is the fastest and most direct way to get a MIDI instrument (such as a keyboard or piano) to use with your computer.

However, the MIDI-USB adapter market is crawling using low-cost, mediocre interfaces that may display garbled and distorted information in a few days or weeks, eventually leading to failure.

If you have been struggling to find an affordable, high-quality interface device or cable to meet your needs, then customizing your product may be the best option.

This article outlines the basics of the MIDI protocol, the importance of MIDI for the USB interface, and, most importantly, how long it takes to build a MIDI-USB cable from scratch.

Figure 5: Roland UM-ONE USB MIDI cable

CHAPTER 1: What Is MIDI to USB Cable? 

 Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI, is a standard protocol for digital instruments, synthesizers, and computers to communicate with each other. While its initial purpose was to allow a keyboard to play notes generated by another keyboard, it was quickly adopted for PC use.

Instead of representing musical sounds directly using analog waves like a tape recorder, MIDI transmits information about how music is produced, which includes the beginning of a note, its length, pitch, volume and other attributes.

The sound waves generated are those already contained in a wavetable in the receiving device or sound card. Because MIDI files only represent player information, they take up considerably less space than formats that have the actual sound.

MIDI to USB interfaces

As mentioned earlier, a typical MIDI connection is made through a standard five-pin DIN plug. Some newer keyboards have USB Type B MIDI ports, which means a standard USB cable will suffice for your computer interfacing needs.

Figure 3 USB Type A-Type B interface Cables(Cloom

Other DAW setups are equipped with soundcards that have MIDI ports, and therefore only require a 5-pin to 5-pin MIDI cable.

Figure 4: PC MIDI soundcard(inta-audio.com)

If you’re looking to connect a keyboard without a USB port to a computing device that doesn’t have MIDI ports, however, you will need a MIDI to USB cable.

 CHAPTER 2: MIDI to USB Types and Their Applications

 MIDI is a single-direction communication protocol, which means a single MIDI plug can either transmit or receive data. Most off-the-shelf MIDI to USB cable, therefore, have two MIDI jacks – In and Out – connecting to an instrument’s Out and In MIDI ports respectively.

Of course, a setup with more than one instrument will require an interface with enough MIDI ports to support all the devices. An 8-port interface or MIDI snake, for instance, is ideal for users that have several external sound modules, keyboards and control surfaces to connect.

Why Would You Need A MIDI-USB Cable?

We may have already established that a MIDI interface is required to connect a keyboard to a computer via USB, but although that is the most common use of these devices, it’s not the only one.

For starters, you might have a sound module whose output you would like to use in your current composition. A MIDI-USB  cable will enable you to send note information to and from your computer. That means you can post parts of your balance back and forth within your keyboard, equipment, and module.

Figure 6: Interfacing a MIDI keyboard, module, and PC

Even if you’re not recording, MIDI can be excellent for synchronizing events. For instance, if you’re performing using previously recorded tracks that also have tempo sensitive effects like delays, you can use your computer to sync them with the MIDI clock to keep everything perfectly in time.

A MIDI-USB cable with a Mini-USB plug can also come in handy if you want to connect your MIDI keyboard to a tablet or smartphone. Your iPad can be a tremendously useful backup device for MIDI files.

Class-compliant cables such as the Roland UM-One MK2 are compatible across different platforms, which means you can use them to back up your synth sounds and settings to your portable device. That way, if your gear crashes, your composition and parameters will still be intact.

Figure 7: Connecting electronic piano to iPad with the iRig2 interface(ikmultimedia.com)

 CHAPTER 3: How to Custom MIDI to USB Cable (Step by Step)

 The main component of a MIDI to USB cable is the USB MIDI adapter. It comprises of processing circuitry that receives notes and pedal data from your instrument’s MIDI OUT and transmits them to your computer via USB.

Many DIY approaches to making a MIDI to USB cable exist, but only a few are likely to cost you less enough than buying a ready-made interface to make the work worth it. One of these is using the ATmega32u4 microcontroller board, commonly known as the Arduino Leonardo.

While prior Arduino knowledge will make building your cable a lot easier, this guide is easy to follow, even if you’ve never tinkered with the platform. That said, some experience with soldering, multimeter use, and other electronics 101 stuff is essential.

Required Components

To build this USB-MIDI cable, you will need roughly $6 worth of hardware.

1.Standard or micro Arduino Leonardo board (Some clones with the ATmega32u4 cost as low as $3 on the internet

2.6N137 optocoupler

3.330 ohm and 2kohm resistors

4.MIDI connector

5.Mini or Micro USB cable depending on your Arduino board

Step 1: Preparing Your Atmega32u4 Board

Before making the connections, it’s recommended to start by flashing a simple USB MIDI test program to your microcontroller. You’ll need Arduino IDE installed on your computer to program your device.

The LUFA library for AVR microcontrollers like the ATmega32u4 will have everything you need to perform this test, and also to process your new adapter.

  • ·Download and install Arduino IDE.
  • ·Download the latest version of LUFA
  • ·Navigate to Demos\Device\ClassDriver and create a copy of the MIDI demo directory here. You can name it ATmega_miditest
  • ·Download ATmega32u4_miditest.zip and replace the midi.c, midi.h and makefile files in the ClassDriver with the ones in the ATmega32u4_miditest.zip file
  • ·Open Arduino IDE and navigate to this new directory
  • ·Run make to compile
  • ·Plug in your ATmega board. Short the RST and GND pins to reset the board
  • ·Upload the code to flash the firmware

Studying the system will reveal that the test looks at the RX pin on the ATmega board (pin PD2) and if its voltage toggles ON (VCC) or OFF (GND), the microcontroller sends a MIDI note OFF or ON respectively. So, if you short the RX pin to GND, the program should trigger middle C from “LUFA-MIDI Demo” USB-MIDI device.

Step 2: Wiring

Every USB MIDI interfacing device has an optocoupler to isolate the MIDI instrument and the computer electronically.

Figure 9: 6N137 optocoupler and standard MIDI DIN pinout

The top views of the 6N137 optocoupler and MIDI DIN connector are as shown in figure () above. Use a breadboard/stripboard and jumper cables to connect the components as follows:

  • Pin 5 of the MIDI DIN connector to pin 2 of the optocoupler
  • Pin 4 of the MIDI DIN connector to pin 3 of the optocoupler through a 330-ohm resistor.
  • Pin 7 and 8 of the optocoupler to ATmega32u4 VCC
  • Pin 6 of the optocoupler to ATmega32u4 RX
  • Pin 5 of the optocoupler to ATmega32u4 GND
  • A 2Kohm pullup resistor between pin 6 and 8 (Signal out and VCC)

Figure 10: Custom USB MIDI interface

Step 3: Programming the Adapter

The procedure of flashing the code is similar to the MIDI test in step 1, only that you will need to replace the standard midi.c, midi.h and makefile files in the ClassDriver folder with the ones in this zip: ATmega32u4_midiadapter.zip

After flashing the firmware, you should be able to connect your new adapter between a keyboard with MIDI OUT and a computer with USB, fire up your DAW and play away!

Step 4: Final Touches (Packaging)

Once you have your circuit working, you may want to make an enclosure for it, either by salvaging and being creative or by 3D printing. Of course, a more compact assembly will mean a smaller and more manageable complete package.

Figure 11: Compact packaging

Having followed these steps to the end, you will have made a cable that will work well for most, if not all casual MIDI-USB uses, at a fraction of what you would have spent for an off-the-shelf purchase.

 CHAPTER 4: Specifications and Standards of Custom MIDI to USB From Cloom Company

 As you may have discovered, assembling a USB MIDI adapter from scratch isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

In addition to the numerous points of failure in wiring and coding, your makeshift cable will probably not work with certain hardware-specific utilities, such as SysEx Librarian.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go at it alone.

Cloom is one of the finest companies that deal with specialized, high-quality cable fabrication, and they’re only a phone call or email away from fulfilling your USB MIDI needs. Below is a breakdown of what to expect from Cloom.

20 Years of Professional Experience

Cloom has been in the wire-harnessing business for a long time, and its staff is well equipped to handle a variety of client needs, including electronics wiring, power cables, signal harnesses, and automobile circuitry. Official website: www.wiringo.com

The professionals at Cloom will help you to understand the USB MIDI cable you want and will develop it while upholding industry standards. 

Guaranteed Duration

As a one-point source of wiring and cabling supplies, Cloom achieves customer satisfaction by ensuring quick turnaround and timely support, as well as high-quality, long-lasting products.

Competitive Price

Cloom promises its clients unrivaled service at competitive prices. You may able and willing to fabricate a USB MIDI cable on your own, but a quick quote from the company will be enough to convince you to rest your hands.

Rapid Custom Channels

Whether you want to interface one or ten MIDI instruments with high-speed channels to your DAW, Cloom will help you develop the cable setup you need to get everything working together.

Get your quote today!