I think the so-called “universal connector” is just wishful thinking. With the change of users’ demands, unexpected development of technology and products has appeared. Maybe the best way is to prepare all kinds of adapters, charging connectors and cables

Recently, I drove my car to a nearby garage for routine maintenance. I just had the opportunity to take advantage of the semi open cubicle provided by the garage for waiting car owners or customers( Of course, those who have nothing to do or just want to kill time can also choose to sit in the spacious and comfortable sofa seat and watch the latest movies on the 54 inch screen or Jerry Springer talk show, but I don’t know who is controlling the channel!)

I found that the cubicle provided by the car factory is more comfortable and more secretive than the “open seating” or “hot desk” in many company offices. Just as I was about to start working, I suddenly caught a glimpse of a gadget in the corner, as shown in Figure 1, which provides a variety of connector (charging line) options. It is not only very convenient but also very considerate for waiting car owners who need AC / DC chargers.

Obviously, it’s a gadget Honda and its dealers use to promote – but it does get there! When I plugged it into an AC outlet, I started testing several devices with different connectors on hand. It’s a coincidence that I still have a set of screw tools, but it’s better for me not to disassemble them.

Universal connectors are not realistic

Figure 1: this toy, which looks like a large car battery, is just an empty shell. It is equipped with an AC / DC converter / power supply to drive the connected low voltage charger and its various connectors (charging wires)( Source: Bill Schweber

Looking at this gadget reminds me of the “evil winter” when I used the barrel DC connector, but there are still many in use. These connectors come in a variety of dazzling sizes with different inside diameters (ID) and outside diameters (OD) and are mainly used for low voltage DC, but sometimes for AC, as shown in Figure 2 and table 1. What’s more frustrating is that although some connectors have the same OD, their IDs are slightly different, so they may often be faced with the problem of “almost” successful pairing “, but in fact they are not quite right.

Universal connectors are not realistic

Universal connectors are not realistic

Figure 2 and table 1: the basic DC (or AC) bucket power connector (wall power) has various possibilities, each of which is slightly different in size; But different sizes have no effect on performance or current capacity( Source: keeboshop)

The inner diameter of the barrel connector is not easy to measure. It is suggested to insert a conical toothpick gently, mark the depth of insertion, and then measure the diameter of the mark with a caliper. The other method is to use the drill tool set to measure the inner diameter. The problem is that it is not easy to achieve a measurement accuracy of a fraction of a millimeter (such as types C, D and E in Figure 2 and table 1).

In our local electronic parts store called “you do it Electronics”, the most convenient product is a panel with very simple technology, which can accommodate almost all sizes of male and female connectors. With this tool, you can actually test whether your connector is just suitable, clearly identify it, and then purchase the connector that meets your needs.

Universal connectors are not realistic

Figure 3: Although these connectors are not proprietary technology, some suppliers tend to adopt specific sizes; However, there are some exceptions and not all suppliers are listed( Source: Legrand / C2G)

With the unified specification of USB connector and becoming a “universal” DC charging connector, many problems like this can not be matched should disappear. USB is really a good way, but no one can stop the pace of technological progress, and consumers’ demand for smaller, thinner connectors and higher current connectors. As a result, USB has developed a lot of connectors that are not compatible with it – just like the era of bucket power connector, as shown in Figure 3.

I think the so-called “universal connector” is just wishful thinking. After the change and progress of users’ and products’ needs, unexpected development of technology will appear, and some unexpected versions will always happen. In this way: if you find a problem between connector and interface, it may also happen to other people, and (hopefully) find a commercial adapter to use.

Perhaps the best way is to have all kinds of adapters, connectors and cables ready, and to know a website or retail store that offers a complete selection. Today’s connectors and wires are not as big as those of ancient connectors and their matching wires (including barrel type), and even make you want to weld two wires with different connector specifications by hand – but this is not practical now.

What kind of cable / connector mismatch do you find most frustrating? Do you have to improvise solutions on the spot? Or do you need to go out and try to find (or order) the right Adapter?

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