Trade Secrets & USB Cables

So, as part of my work down at iPlay4e, I managed to cut their costs by a very large portion. I won’t say how much, but I will say that we aren’t losing money any more.

And, speaking of trade secrets (not really), today marks the first weekend day where I get to work on my electric meter project. The aim of the project is to record and graph the electricity the Pillow house uses. I intend to do this with some optical character recognition and a webcam.

Which means 40′ of USB cable.

I started by going to Radio Shack, and buying 40′ of interconnect cable. Cut it up, soldered it together, plugged in a high speed USB hub, and plugged the other end into my computer… With absolutely no result. Alright, I tell myself, this is okay. I’ll survive. I break out the voltmeter, and start a four hour session of USB-cable-building.

Four hours later, I haven’t done anything except cut myself with an exacto knife trying to get the shielding off of the old cable. The wires are all properly connected, red to red and black to black, and there’s no shorts or flaky connections. At this point I get to thinking that the hub is broken, and that my work is flawless, while the $5 hub I bought really is the junk I think it is. So, with this in mind, I grab my ten year old webcam, not the new $20 one I bought just for this project, and I cut the cable. A few trips to the soldering iron and it has a brand new 40′ USB cable. And the computer can see it. However, it can’t see – the webcam is broken, so while the computer can see it, it can’t see the computer.

And now, here I am, off to the Goodwill Computer Store to pick up a pre-2005 webcam. Anything that uses Full Speed USB. Moral of the story: People can’t just make High Speed USB cables, but they can just make Full Speed USB cables.


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