After ordering the new Raspberry Pi Zero I suddenly realised I didn’t have a suitable micro USB cable adapter to connect either a keyboard or mouse to it. Now common sense would have been to go back on-line and order either suitable cables or a suitable micro USB hub but as the maker saying goes “necessity being the mother of invention” so I decide to make my own. In this case a non-powered micro USB hub.
Getting the base components was easy. A quick call into a “pound” (or the equivalent dollar, euro etc.) shop got me a micro USB data/charging cable and a USB hub as shown for the princely sum of £2.
The basic tools are:
Screwdriver (flat and/or Philips)
Open USB Hub case
Depending on the screws used in the USB Hub case you may need a Philips screwdriver to open the plastic USB Hub enclosure. In my case, the Hub’s plastic enclosure was clipped together and a bit of squeezing and gentle persuading with a flat bladed screw driver saw it come apart.
De-solder USB Cable
Once the USB hub is apart you should see a small PCB with a number of USB connectors and a cable. Make a note of the wire colour and positions. De-solder the existing USB wires from the PCB. Carefully apply heat from the soldering iron to the soldered wire and when the solder melts, gently lift the wire away from the PCB pad.
Prepare micro USB cable
With the wire cutters, cut the USB A connector (the bigger of the two USB connectors) off the cable. With the wire cutters or a small knife/scalpel cut back and remove about 2cm of the external cable insulation. Using the wire strippers, strip about 5mm of insulation from each of the individual wires. Finally, for each wire twist the copper strands and using the soldering iron, “tin” them and repeat for all wires.
Soldering the new cable
Remembering to use the info from the note you made earlier ;-), match the wire colour’s to the PCB pad and solder the first of the new wires from the micro USB cable back on to the USB Hub PCB. Repeat this for each of the wires in the micro USB cable. Once finished, check your work for any solder bridges and/or dry joins.
Putting it back together
Once you’re soldered all the wires back on the USB Hub PCB, reassemble it back into its plastic enclosure. You may want to add a tye-wrap to act as a strain relief for the micro USB cable.