Friday, January 18, 2013

Power Small FINISHED projects from USB

Often I create a small... thing, not really anything to write home about but something that blinks a LED for example and I use and Arduino to power it. This is good for the building stages but using and Arduino just for the 5V output is not efficient.
So I wanted a way to power the devices from USB 5V. this is bad for the laptop health if the project is not finished and there are still problems with the wiring but when all is finished, you can safely source the needed voltage from a PC (remember no more than 500 ma).
My solution is a power cable with a USB male on one end and standard header pins on the other.

I have some USB B cables, the kind used to power the Arduino and printers. I started by cutting the USB B connector off and used electrical tape on the data lines as I won't be using them.
I cut small piece of perfboard and soldered header pins to it in parallel. joining them in 2 rows. soldered the red +5V to one rail and the Black GND wire to the other.

So now I have a few rails to power my projects directly from the computer or from a rechargeable battery. I would recommend using one of these batteries just to have a layer of protection for the PC.

I don't know if I am that good at explaining so here are some pictures of the final product.

USB powered header pins cable

close up of the header pins
close up of my bad soldering job

I know it doesn't look that nice because I know only how to make things work not look good (good thing I am not into web design, although I would like it if other people would realize that they don't have this skill as well). At least it suits my purposes well.
I would like to reiterate that plugging this cable into a PC and connecting something the wrong way or something that might overload or short-circuit will destroy at least the USB port if not more!

Hope this was useful for someone. Have fun!

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