Tonight I took another crack at sleeving a USB 3.0 double cable. When I originally sleeved my USB 3.0 card reader, I ended up having to use some very large sleeve to get over the enormous motherboard 20pin connector on one end. Picture of what it ended up looking like below. This was my old approach:
While it definitely looked better than leaving the cables black (at least for my build), I really didn't like how much slack is inside the sleeve. You can see how poofy it is all around. You simply can't pull it very tight at all when the sleeve is this much larger than the wires inside it. I was set on trying to improve this. For anyone who has tried sleeving USB 3.0 double cables...I know you feel my pain. The biggest issue is that most of these cables have a gigantic motherboard header on one end....like this:
...and an end that is not accessible on the other end.....like this:
So....for my first attempts, I decided I would see what size sleeve I could actually fit over the 20 pin motherboard connector...without trying to remove it. I was hoping to find something smaller that would still fit over the connector. Since I had plenty of MDPC-X on hand, I tried that first. There is no way you are going to be able to slide either the SATA sleeve or the USB sleeve (available only in black I believe) over that connector. I tried every which was possible. So next...I decided to try several brands of sleeve and see if any of them had more expandability than the MDPC-X I've been working with.
I bought sleeve from Bitspower, Mod/Smart, Techflex, Flexo Pet, and FTW. And I bought it in all the different sizes they make that were larger. I can tell you that none of the sleeving from any company that was sized 3/8 Inch or smaller would go over the connector. Not even close. When I stepped up to 1/2 inch sleeve...there was one brand of sleeving that would expand enough to make it over the 20 pin connector. You've probably guessed based on prior posts....but it was the Flexo Pet. Flexo Pet just expands WAY more than the other company's sleeve. But the big negative is that it does not provide good coverage of the cable underneath...so using the correct color wire...or wrapping in electrical tape first...is required when using this sleeving. The next step up in size for most manufacturers was 3/4 inch sleeve...and this size would generally fit over the 20 pin connector.....but it sure left a lot of empty space inside the sleeve. It was too big to pull tight.
The 1/2 inch Flexo Pet looked better than my original attempt. But even the 1/2 inch Flexo Pet that would just barely fit over the connector...left too much space inside the sleeve for my taste.
So....my next attempt was to remove the connector and/or remove the pins. Lots of epic fails during this part, and I destroyed several USB cables. I was at least smart enough to attempt this on cheap extra cables I had bought, and not anything that was important and attached to a card reader. Kind of like most of the SATA cables I tore down...there is a lot of waxy substance that seals the wires coming out of the cables and into the connectors. It is impossible to try and remove the wires from this waxy mold.
After I had destroyed enough cables trying to free the wires from the connectors, I decided to try and different approach, and just slice off as much of the black plastic connector as I could...to make it thinner. To try this....I heated up an exacto knife on my gas stove top until the blade was nice and hot. Real hot. Blade glowing orange hot. If you try this...hold the handle with something padded, because the whole knife gets real hot.
With the knife this hot....it melted through the black plastic like butter. And I found that if I stayed close to the edges of where the black plastic molding touched the waxy molding inside....I could end up tearing the black plastic molding off completely. Here is a picture of the molding torn off of the cable.
Here is what the waxy end looks like underneath the black plastic molding. You can see that the waxy mold is still completely intact, so it is still there to provide strength and support for the tiny solder connections. Nothing lost by removing the black plastic molding.
And by removing the outer black plastic molding, the size of the connector does get smaller...and not by an insubstantial amount. Here are some pictures comparing an untouched USB 3.0 connector with my modded one:
And by removing the extra size that the black plastic molding added....I found that I could now slip a 3/8 inch Flexo Pet sleeve over the connector. Smaller sleeve...should mean better fit around the cables. The 3/8 inch sleeve actually fit real snug around the cables. Left none of the poofy slack that I was trying to eliminate. Nice. So I went ahead and taped the black cables with white electrical tape:
Snugged the sleeve over the 20 pin connector and down the cable....
Put some one inch heatshrink on this end....
...and then this end....
....for a finished cable.
Here is a picture of my old approach (on the left)....and my new approach (on the right).
Much more attractive. But the only way to get this result when you are having to go over a 20 pin connector...is to slim down the connector with your heated up knife....and use some Flexo Pet sleeving which expands WAY more than other sleeve does.
Guess I'm going to have to redo that card reader sleeve also. This looks much better.
Now...I'm off to bed...but I'm going to turn on some Marvin Gaye softly in the background to see if it stimulates any 24 pin action. Update tomorrow.