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USB-C Cables

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Despres, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. Despres

    Despres Tele-Holic

    652
    Aug 14, 2012
    Northeast again
    Obviously this is a random question but someone here might know:

    I have a new(ish) phone that has a USB-C connector. Since all of my other phones in recent years have been standard micro USB connectors, I had a plethora of those cables around - enough to have them in each vehicle, in my laptop bag, desk, kitchen counter, junk drawer and a few backups... you get the idea.

    So I ordered a half-dozen cheapo USB-C cables when I got my phone and I've noticed that they do not charge fast enough to keep up with the phone's usage - if I plug in any cable except the HTC one that came with my phone, it registers that it is charging, but I get error messages that it is charging slowly. On the road, if I have music, GPS and Bluetooth going, I can actually drain the battery while the charger is connected. To be clear, I am talking about the cable that has a standard USB plug on one end and a USB-C on the other - regardless of which wall adapter, computer or 12v adapter I connect the USB end to, I get slow charge with all six cheap cables and normal charge with the HTC Cable.

    OK, that isn't a question, I know, but here is the two-part question:

    1) Why is this? I thought a cable had a connector on one end, some wire and a connector on the other end (maybe some magic directional wire if it is a guitar cable) but still, shouldn't a charging cable either be connected or not connected?
    2) Does anyone know of a way to tell before buying and trying a bunch which ones will work? I bought a half dozen that don't work for $5 bucks and I have seen brand-name ones ranging from $15-$30 dollars. I would spend 10-15 bucks for a spare 'good' cable if I knew it was going to work but can't bring myself to spend $30 and really don't want to spend $10 unless I know it will work?
     
    41144 likes this.

  2. sammy123

    sammy123 Tele-Meister

    286
    Jul 25, 2011
    MKE
    My latest phone also uses usb-c. When I was researching cables I believe I saw many that were listed as quick charge capable. The prices for these cables right now is stupid.
     

  3. Despres

    Despres Tele-Holic

    652
    Aug 14, 2012
    Northeast again
    I like the phone, but honestly would not have got it if I knew about this cable thing. I am just not smart enough to have only one charging cable, and multiple cables seems cost-prohibitive!
     

  4. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

    Nov 28, 2006
    USA
    My Samsung uses micro USB. It will only 'quick charge' with the cable that shipped with the phone. It will only connect to my laptop with a different, random cable I had laying around. So in some way, there are differences, but I don't know what they are. But you're not alone in your issue.
     

  5. sammy123

    sammy123 Tele-Meister

    286
    Jul 25, 2011
    MKE
    Honestly though, I think USB-C is better. It seems sturdier, it can be reversed, and it has the quick charge option (I didn't know micro did too, maybe it's a newer version?). The micro USB jack had failed on my previous two Samsung phones. Now I have the Nexus 5x, which I like a lot.
     

  6. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Tele-Meister

    311
    May 7, 2015
    atlanta
    it's likely related to the diameter of the wires used in the cable, the smaller the wire the less current it can carry (amps). The cheaper cables use thinner wire, less copper means less cost, means more profit margin, plus thin cheap cables break sooner, so they can sell more of them over and over.

    I bought some from China via eb*y and the first batch wore out fast, I replaced them with some metallic shielded cables and haven't had any complaints yet. If you look on the internet you'll see a lot of people complaining about the charging capabilities of 3rd party cables.
     

  7. raito

    raito Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Nov 22, 2010
    Madison, WI
    Same with my Samsung tablet, though I vaguely recall that the charging cable worked for data at one time. But not now.
     

  8. archetype

    archetype More tone than talent Ad Free + Supporter

    583
    Jun 4, 2005
    Williamsville NY
    Try monoprice.com for these cables. While you're there, get one of their 5 or15 Watt guitar amps.
     
    Robot Devil likes this.

  9. Despres

    Despres Tele-Holic

    652
    Aug 14, 2012
    Northeast again
    I can see it now: "look honey, I found some cheap charging cables for my phone, and used all that money I saved to buy a new amplifier!"
     
    xafinity likes this.

  10. Despres

    Despres Tele-Holic

    652
    Aug 14, 2012
    Northeast again
    OK, for my follow-up question: Anyone know the difference between 3.0 USB-C and 3.1 USB-C? My phone (HTC 10) is apparently equipped with a 3.1 USB-C plug. On Monoprice.com, the 3.0 USB-C cable is $5.99 and the 3.1 USB-C cable is $24.99!
     

  11. Despres

    Despres Tele-Holic

    652
    Aug 14, 2012
    Northeast again
    I read this response and thought 'oh that makes sense' then I was doing something else and thought 'wait maybe it doesn't.'

    Yes, I understand smaller diameter wire is cheaper and breaks faster, and I have bought many cheap chinese ones on ebay that died quickly.

    What I am not sure I understand is that "the smaller the wire the less current it can carry (amps)" part. In my limited understanding, I would have thought that a cable will deliver as many amps as the thing on the end is drawing - if the amperage is greater than the cable can handle, it will heat up, start a fire or become a fuse and fail. (i.e. if I use a 15 amp tool with a 5 amp extension cord, the tool will still work, but the cord will get hot and be dangerous). I didn't think that a cable could actually serve as a bottleneck though (hence my comment that it's either connected or not).
     

  12. unixfish

    unixfish Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free + Supporter

    Apr 20, 2013
    Northeast Ohio, USA
    Besides 0.1? OK, OK, I did have to look that up.

    From velocitymicro.com:

    USB 3.1 (aka USB 3.1/gen 2) is the successor to USB 3.0. Identifiable by its bright turquoise port, USB 3.1 doubles the transfer speed of 3.0 to a whopping 10 Gbps. USB Power Delivery 2.0 makes a big step forward as well with up to 100W of power. And like previous versions of USB, it is fully backwards compatible with its predecessors.

    When used with the Type-C connection, things get really interesting for 3.1. The 100W of PD v2.0 is enough to power and charge full sized notebooks, which means the proprietary AC port may soon be replaced by this universal alternative. With 4 data lanes, USB 3.1 Type-C can even carry DisplayPort and HDMI video signals, further adding to its ubiquity. Again, one port to rule them all.​

    Soooo, basically it can handle power - I would assume 3.1 are bulkier / thicker, and hence the added cost. 5 Gbps vs 10 Gbps for a cell phone is somewhat irrelevant, but could be a good thing when using them for laptop data.

    @Despres - I was not aware of charging differences between cables. Maybe there is a chip in them - like with Apple Lightning cables - so only "their" stuff works properly? A cable should not limit charging, however - I would think that is a function of the power inverter / wall wart.
     

  13. Despres

    Despres Tele-Holic

    652
    Aug 14, 2012
    Northeast again
    This is where I was confused - different cables with the same wall wart get different charging rates - when used with 12v adapters in the car or on my bike, I get constant error messages about slow charging with the cheap cables but the HTC cable works fine.
     

  14. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 6, 2014
    UK
    You can get four time more amps through a gauge or two bigger cable. The cheap one use thinner gauge and are even worse if they are long.

    Tiny cost but an exponential markup for a fraction more copper.

    Rip off society
     

  15. 41144

    41144 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    64
    157
    Sep 5, 2017
    West Midalnds, GB
     

  16. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Tele-Meister

    311
    May 7, 2015
    atlanta
    fast charge, implies more current, more current requires bigger wires, its like trying to push a 1,000 gallons of water through a garden hose, it can be done but it will take more time than a 4" diameter hose. The usb port is rated for a certain current draw, the limit is 500ma per port on USB2, I beleive 3.0 is higher. Above that it depends on the design/software, if there is current sensing it should throttle the port, raspberry pi's 1st generation werer notorious for having no current limiting on the usb ports causing them to fry.

    at the other end the device will also have current limiting, especially if its a lithium battery which can combust if the charge rate isn't properly monitored, most Li-ion packs have a thermistor to measure how warm they are getting, which provides a feedback loop on how much curren to draw.

    Physics says, you can only pull or draw so much current over a given diameter of wire, that's why welding cables are very big and stranded not solid wire (provides flexilbility). The smaller the wire the less current carrying capabilities at room temperature. If you put them in a cryogenic bath they will become super conducting and can handle lots more current. In an MRI magnet, the wire is relatively fine and as long as the magnet stays supercooled it can take enough current that it would take a week to bleed it off, but if the magnet warms up the wires burn through.

    so like a chain, the weakest link is the bottleneck (the cable), and in this case the cheap cable fails not because of price, but because of materials, the more current that is pulled through the cable the more it heats up, the more it heats up the higher the resistance (think about a resistance heater ie toaster)
    the higher the resistance the less current flows, resulting in self limiting and/or melting a conductor wire or 2 or 3,etc, until the cable fails to conduct current. Copper won't ignite easily unlike lithium so the charge cable won't usually catch fire, it will just fail to work

    Fast charging of course accelarates the process, because by design it draws more current over a comparable amount of time.

    The charge circuit in the device being charged could monitor the resistance of the charging cable and ratchet the charge rate up and down based on the values it receives. I don't know for sure how this particular circuit is designed, but I read up on a charge circuit controller chip used in Motorola lapdocks and it has a complete rule set of criteria that must be met before the charge circuit kicks in. It was impressive and a a pain in the butt to repair. I wound up tearing it apart and just using the LCD screen and junking the charge circuit and keyboard interface.

    so thats my quick and easy explanation, hope that helps.
     

  17. canuck guy

    canuck guy TDPRI Member

    52
    Aug 12, 2015
    Alberta
    I got the adaptors from Monoprice to adapt USB micro ends to USB C. Bought about 6 of them. Don't remember price but I think they were about $3 each. Work fine and charge at a fast rate.
     
    xafinity likes this.

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