Articles

Making a USB Device Charge With Any Wall Charger

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2009 by Brad

I want to charge multiple USB devices with any USB charger. As many reading this may have experienced, more often than not, it doesn’t work. One charger will charge a certain device but it won’t charge another device. Another device will work with several chargers but getting the the combination of all devices being able to charge with any charger has been a pain. What’s going on? We all know the chargers are giving out power. Why won’t it work?

I finally looked into it and from what I have read several things are happening:

  • it was just established this past year (2009) that USB chargers will short the data lines (the inner two connections on the USB plug) in order to tell USB devices that they are plugged into a charger and not a PC. This is supposed to be the standard going forward.
  • up until now some chargers would short the data lines while others, depending on the device, would either leave them open or, if it was specific to a device, put a resistor across the data lines.
  • Some devices wouldn’t care, and, oddly, this seemed rare, thus charging everywhere
  • Some devices have stuck to the notion that the data lines need to be shorted in order to charge. Technically correct but, really, couldn’t you just charge if you had the power?
  • Worst case: Some devices look for a particular resistance across the data lines to determine whether they’ll charge or not

So, what do you do? Well, there are several things you need:

  • A USB charger (wall or cigarette lighter – doesn’t matter). Newer chargers are supposed to adhere to the new shorted-data-lines standard but I’d be willing to bet that most reading this have a USB charger lying around that they can’t use for anything because of the above problems.
  • A cable that takes care of the data lines for you. Luckily, this has been done. Go to this site and order one: http://www.boxwave.com/products/iphonechargingadapter/index.htm They have several paths to the device (you select your iPod, iPhone, etc.). I just picked the straight iPhone version. This one worked with my Kindle DX which specifically looks for the data lines to be shorted.
  • You’ll probably need some kind of adapter to get it from a USB-A connection (the kind you plug into the side of your computer) to something like a USB mini-b or USB-micro connection. You can pick these up off Amazon or Cyberguys if you do some searching. I’m not going to get into all the different types of USB connectors. If nothing else your device probably shipped with a connector that is used to plug into the computer. Also note that for all of these portable devices, there probably is a USB cable that meets your needs. Most of the devices are 5V, anyway. Do a search on the sites mentioned here or go to eBay. I found a USB cable that’ll charge a Nintendo DS, as an example.
  • You’ll likely have some device that even after you’ve put the above cables together and plugged it in successfully it will still refuse to charge. It has a standard USB port (like mini-B) but just refuses to ake the charge. This is one of the resistor type of devices. Luckily, I’ve found a way to handle that, too. ZipLinq makes the adapters along with a few other companies (one which starts with a ‘K’ but for the life of me I can’t remember it now). Anyway, you can go to a place like: http://www.cablesunlimited.com/ and do a search on your device plus the words ‘usb’ and ‘charger’ and they’ll probably have a USB adapter that will take care of it.

So, at the end of this you should be able to have a USB charger, maybe a few USB cables/adapters, and the ability to charge your devices while traveling without having to haul your laptop along.

As a general rule, unless you know that the USB charger has the data lines shorted (the Kindle DX charger, for example, does have this) then you can just keep the iPod/iPhone adapter plugged in first to your USB charger and then plug the remaining adapters into that and you should be set.

No more multiple wall chargers for you!

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4 Responses to “Making a USB Device Charge With Any Wall Charger”

  1. Great article. Very helpful. The new mini usb b connector is so much smaller than normal and i’m happy that it will be the universal standard. One charging port for everything, mobiles, cameras, mp3’s, ipods etc etc.

  2. At this point, I’d highly recommend folks take a look at the iPad USB charger (available at Best Buy, but I’m sure you could find it at Amazon). This gets you a few things:
    – it’s 10 watts so it should easily handle charging things like a PSP that, while at 5V, run at a higher amperage than your typical .5 amp USB charger. So this charger will cover more of your devices
    – it’s small – like throw it in your pocket-small but definitely less to carry around if you travel.
    – it comes with a extension cord or a clip-on plug. Think of a regular extension cord but with a USB connection on the end OR think of it as a smaller wall-wart. If you use it as a wall-wart it has a clip-on plug which folds into itself making it great for travel.
    – it is a standard USB charger meaning that the data pins are shorted so that all new devices looking for this will work without the iPhone adapter mentioned in the article (you can charge the Kindle, as an example). If your device requires some kind of resistor to charge you’ll still need that adapter, of course (my old Motorola phone did).

  3. Hi there,

    Many thanks for your post. Given the indepth research you have done (and my failure to find a solution after a few days of reading and searching):

    Do you know if a high-powered 10watts USB connector would charge any laptop (sony, dell etc)?

    Alternatively is there a USB connector that can re-charge any laptop?

    Indebted to your guidance,

    Zevae Zaheer

  4. I don’t know of a USB connector/charger that would charge a laptop. That gets out of the realm of what the USB charging is supposed to do. The iPad is even out of the realm but you can at least buy the 10watt charger for it which will happily charge other higher-wattage devices (like the PSP).

    I think charging a laptop is going too far with it.

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