USB transfer cables

April 14, 2009 at 22:21:06
Specs: Windows XP

Does anyone know the difference between the various USB to mini-USB transfer cables typically used to down load digital cameras, PDA's etc to a PC? Some appear to be a plain cable, others have one or two cylinder like devices about 1/2 x 1" along the cable. Are they all equivalent / interchangeable?
Thank you.

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April 15, 2009 at 10:41:22

The ones with the cylinder are special adapter cables that can be used to connect two PCs, and allow them to access each others files.

The other cables are just for attaching USB devices to a PC.

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April 15, 2009 at 11:41:54

The above statement is incorrect. The cylinder is a choke, which is there to filter out RF interference. Look at the link below.

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April 15, 2009 at 15:32:45

I have to disagree with othehill, maybe for the first time ever. :-) Refernce the following web site with a picture of a USB LAN adapter cable. The cylinder contains the electronic ciruit to allow the connection between two PCs.

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April 15, 2009 at 15:42:49

aegis 1

The only difference between a normal AB USB cable and the one you linked is that your link is a USB crossover cable. That is just like a network crossover cable. In order to connect two computers with a cable it is necessary to either use a hub or a crossover cable.

The gizmo in the center is no doubt a choke. At any rate, I think what the OP was referring to is the cylinder that is normally near one end. The link I provided is for an after market choke but virtually all cables to connect cameras and phones have that same choke on them.

Below is a link to one example.

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April 15, 2009 at 16:12:34

OtheHill, you are correct. The usb cables supplied by quality manufacturers use this type of cable.
My Canon MFP printer usb cable has a choke on it as does my Motorola phone usb cable, my old Canon LiDE20 scanner has it as well and it's over 5 years old.
None of these cables can be used to connect 2 computers together as obviously only one end will fit the usb socket on the computer.

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April 15, 2009 at 16:37:53

If I am wrong, I apologize. But I don't understand on how a simple crossover cable could deal with the 5 volts that each PC supplies. It seems to me that there would have the be some circuity in the cable to deal with that problem as well as isolation problems that might be needed. The USB buss was not designed for inter computer communication.

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April 15, 2009 at 19:21:32

The principle is the same as when you use a network crossover cable. There are wires for data in and for data out. If you wish to connect two computers you need to reverse the data in and out on one end. The power stays the same. The filter is just a bonus feature to assure data integrity.

I have never used a USB crossover cable and you may be on to something there but I don't think it is that complicated. The USB ports are designed to be Bi-directional.

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April 15, 2009 at 20:41:06

I have also never used a USB crossover cable OTH, so you might might very well be right. My feeling is that there must be an intertace. but I am not really sure.

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April 15, 2009 at 22:53:06

It looks like we all have differing ideas here, but I agree with aegis1. The reason is, I have a USB to PS/2 adapter that allows a user to plug in a PS/2 mouse and keyboard. There's a cylinder on it. No doubtedly it is the circuitry that tells the computer whether the signals it's getting from the adapter is coming from the mouse or the keyboard. I don't see how the computer could differentiate otherwise since both the mouse and keyboard can be plugged in simultaneously.

I think that the cylinder CAN be a choke, but not with all devices.

On the other hand, USB is supposedly an extension to Ethernet and has the capability to network PCs just like standard Ethernet. I heard this from a guy who's been in IT for over 25 years.

WinSimple Software
CompTIA A+ Certified

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April 16, 2009 at 05:28:57


I agree that when you are converting from one interface to another there may be some additional circuitry. However, that is not what the OP asked about.

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April 16, 2009 at 08:07:07

"However, that is not what the OP asked about."

Then why are we all talking about it?

WinSimple Software
CompTIA A+ Certified

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April 16, 2009 at 09:10:31

Because of aegis 1 posted about it.

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April 16, 2009 at 11:11:41

Sorry Othehill, I guess I have to relearn how to read. I misread the original post. Of course, you are correct! The cylinders on the USB cables to cameras, etc are chokes.

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April 16, 2009 at 12:50:11

No problem, If I had a nickel for every time I did that, I could buy a cup of Starbucks.

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