Making a USB extension and splitter.
Ok. In my last update I finished with this shot, and mentioned I'd be working on the USB connections to the Aquaero's next. They are the only black cables left there in the upper part of the front of the case.
What I wanted to do was drop the USB cables straight down the case all the way to the bottom (the harddrive cages (removed for pic) would hide this cable run), and then run them along the bottom until I reach the furthest cutout (the radiator would hide most of this cable run), and then bring it back to the motherboard side there. That would allow me not to have any cable cross over on the motherboard side from the front of the case. I'm trying to keep that area clear and have only the SATA data cables cutting through the front area on the motherboard side.
Well, even though the USB cables supplied with the Aquaero's are pretty long....they are not long enough for my desired cable run. I thought about just buying longer USB cords, but I also wanted to play around with combining these two separate 5 pin USB motherboard connectors...into a single 9 pin connector. Not only would this be cleaner looking, but it is always much easier to plug in larger connectors than smaller ones. So....I ended up getting this 9-pin extension, and I'll join both 5-pin connectors to this to create a single connection for the motherboard.
I thought about "rolling my own" USB cables, but because of the shielding that is part of the cable itself, I didn't want to mess with trying to duplicate that. The extender/adapter seemed the way to go. BUT...I do not want a giant plug connection in the middle of my cable, so I'll need to remove the motherboard connectors and join the extension without using this connector.
For those that haven't played with removing pins on these USB motherboard style connectors....its real easy. I took one of them up into the faux studio, armed with my tripod...to show you how its done. There are little plastic flaps attached to the connector, that fold down into place when the pin is inserted into the connector.
If you push the pins up as far as they can go into the connector, and take an exact knife, you can stick the tip between the plastic flap and the pin. Then just gently lift it up.
Here you can see all 5 plastic flaps lifted up
Once the flaps are pointed upward, you can simply pull the pins out of the connector.
These are what the female USB motherboard connector pins look like.
The Aquacomputer supplied USB cables have this ugly black plastic netting on them......not really sleeve....more of a net. They don't provide any coverage at all. Clearly...they have to go.
After removing all of the pins that I needed.....
I used some white electrical tape to cover the black rubber housing of the USB cables. Can't stress enough that when using white sleeve on a colored object....do something to color the object white first. If not, you will have significant bleed through, and the cables will look different than the other white sleeved cables in your build.
Next I cut some segments of my little tiny heatshrink, and put a piece on each of the connections I needed to make to join the extension to the main cable:
Then I plugged in the male pin side of the extension, to the female pin side of the regular USB cable....
...and then heated up the shrink to secure the connections. All I'm doing here is basically joining the extension to the main cable...without using any of the black plastic connectors. I don't want those in the middle of my cable.
Next comes the sleeve. Nothing to hard here. I used MDPC small sleeve for the two separated ends that will attach to the Aquaero's. But I used MDPC SATA sleeve on the other end, so that both USB cables appear to be just one cable. Fits nicely.
Some heatshrink on the ends....and then a piece where the two separate wires merge into one. Kind of like a SATA breakout cable....but its USB! This cable is very long now....but that is what is necessary for the cable run I want. It's a big case!
Here is what is looks like in the case. The separate ends are connected to each Aquaero, and then quickly join into one cable before dropping down the PSU side of the case.
The joined cable drops straight down the middle divider of the case. This will be completely hidden by the SDD cages when they are put back in.
The cable doesn't make an appearance on the motherboard side again until coming out the cutout below the motherboard. At this point it truly is a single cable...and has a single motherboard 9-pin connector. Easy to plug in, and much cleaner than having separate connections.
Hope that helps, for any of you other dual Aquaero owners out there. I'm probably going to do something similar for the power/reset/HDD/LED connectors. Right now there are six separate little connectors that plug in beside each other and are a great big PITA to get plugged in properly. I'll probably join all of these to a single 9-pin connector and make then a single cable coming from the front of the case. Will probably navigate the cord the same way these USB connections are run. These don't need the USB shielding inside the cable, so I can probably roll my own.