Three cool tools

Originally published at: Three cool tools | Boing Boing

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I can’t help but think that if micro USB was intended to be reversible, it would have been made reversible to begin with. I’m very skeptical of these so-called reversible cables, especially since micro USB ports are already so fragile.


For those cord retractors, a word of caution: Do not extend/retract the cord while under (heavy) electrical load.

(I have replaced several cord retractor assemblies inside vacuum cleaners and the cause was the cord being “re-positioned” while the vacuum cleaner was on and in use. This causes arcing and eventual pitting of the brushes and conductive rings within the cable reel unit. Switch off or disconnect load prior to reel movement.)


Very much so. Looks like the contacts are free-floating in the micro assembly. That’s all fine and good until one of them catches on a rough edge in a device and bunches up or crosses over… Products like these make my skin crawl in terms of actively trying to go against a standard.

Not that device manufacturers don’t already do this with extra-deep connectors or out of tolerance contacts or whatever else, but seeing the market chase and prolong the undesirable behaviors just to make an extra buck rather than adhering to standards and taking pride in their products just grinds my gears. No, I wasn’t born yesterday. Yes, I am familiar with how our corrupted capitalism works here in the US. But regardless, we can and should do better. Even if no one else cares. Not because it makes us extra profitable, but because our reputation ought to mean something. If we don’t have that, then what do we have?

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. ((sigh))


Actually, I own one of these cables, not sure it’s the same brand, but similar design. While I haven’t put under heavy use, it have worked just fine for me.

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Caution on the retractable extension cords. Do not overload them. The coil in the mechanism has no air flow and will easily overheat under heavy current. Also, the linked product is only 16 gauge which I wouldn’t use for more than maybe 8 amps.


A note on Recomendo: I used to subscribe and loved the newsletter, but the product recommendations always pointed directly to Amazon. After a while, I found that objectionable. There are thousands of smaller sellers and stores who could use the business and who are part of affiliate programs if you need the cash.

In addition, unsubscribing was a total nightmare because the newsletter redirector company, Revue, is one of the few websites that wouldn’t work with the various security features on my system. I’ve never had a problem unsubscribing from anything before until I tried to unsubscribe from Recomendo. Highly suggest you use another company, because that one blows. I secure my system and browsers using recommendations provided by other Boing Boing writers (such as the tools listed at EFF), and I would hope all Boing Boing writers use companies and tools that support those recommendations.


I just put a small dot of white-out on the connector and receptacle to indicate direction. Has worked well for years.

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So you’re saying the only reason the 400$ carbonation dohicky is better than the 100$ carbonation doohicky, is that it looks better?


I will keep that in mind.


I have one of these types of cables in A-C and I have some cautions to make about it. For one, do not expect it to be a reliable data transmission cable–the floating paddle on the A side is way too flexable to get sufficient pressure against the host side data contacts. As a charging cable, the data lines aren’t that critical, but the problem becomes the weak pressure on the power contacts means they offer much more contact resistance than properly designed connectors and will have more heating due to that. At the higher currents of charging, this can lead to overheating and/or slow charging. Putting one of these floppy paddles on both sides is just asking for a very slow charge–and the risk of fire.

Just don’t do this. All host USB ports are in the same orientation–it’s part of the standard. If you can’t identify your cables (they should have the USB markings on the top side as is the standard), then mark them like @westcarleton suggests.

I have a number of ‘charge only’ USB cables that lack the data lines. I have used gold finger nail polish to mark them so I never mix them up with a proper USB cable. They’re not very useful these days as USB chargers shouldn’t supply >500mA to them as to get more current you need to signal with the data lines (at the very least you need to tie them together to satisfy the older USB charging spec).


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