USB power socket

How to connect your project to USB power

A popular, traditional way to power electronics projects had been to use a DC power socket with an external power supply. DC power supplies with a power jack (e.g. a “2.1mm jack”) are readily available and quite affordable. Speaking for our projects, we often brought in a 9V/12V DV power supply and employed a 7805 linear regulator.

More recently, with the availability of 5V USB mobile phone chargers, hobbyists and professionals alike are using those chargers in their projects. With many projects needing 5V (Arduino, Raspberry PI), it makes perfect sense to use those nifty little chargers. They are even very useful for 3.3V electronics, where a small 5V to 3.3V regulator or switching converter can be used.

Indeed, devices such as the Arduino Pro Micro (8MHz model) has an onboard 3.3V regulator (although I personally tend to use an external 3.3V regulator or switching converter, as I have found it is easy to overload the onboard regulator).

The onboard USB socket is great when testing your Arduino or other device on the bench – because the USB connector is soldered to the Arduino (some don’t have that though, like the pro mini).

Time for a project box or panel

However, when it’s time to put the Arduino into a project box or enclosure, you don’t have access to that onboard USB unless you are able to cleverly design the PCB so the onboard USB socket is exposed. But even then, you will often end up with an unsatisfactory and untidy hole in your box.

The two main challenges are:

  1. Accessing the onboard USB socket to power your project
  2. Having an untidy cut-out in your project box to access the onboard USB socket

With 12V DC jacks it is easy – you can buy a 2.1 chassis socket. Not so easy for USB.

Until now, that is!

USB socket to the rescue

We have created a solution for all you electronics enthusiasts. This is our USB mini socket with bezel !, which comprises a USB-mini socket, our custom PCB, our custom black glossy Bezel, and some screws.

Make it how you need it

We supply this amazing little product in kit form, so you can make it up to suite your project. You will need to solder the socket squarely and neatly to the PCB, which is then held onto the rear of the bezel with the screws provided. To connect the internal cables, you can solder your cables directly to the PCB, or you could use a 2.54mm socket or plug header. The PCB is made using lead-free HASL, but you can use lead-free or other electronics fluxed solder as you wish.

And although this product was designed to facilitate a power connection, we have exposed all five of the USB-mini connections for your use. We have also grounded the USB socket case, and the PCB has a ground plane.

The top of the bezel overlaps the cut-out you make, thus hiding the cut-out. All-in-all it is a terrific way to connect a USB power (or signal) cable to your Arduino or other electronics project. The bezel itself is fixed to the project case or panel with suitable adhesive.

This nifty solution:

  • Comes as a kit of parts so you can configure it as you need
  • Is useful for power or USB signals
  • Has a glossy black Perspex bezel for a professional look
  • Hides ugly cut-outs
  • Is a great way to supply 5V to your Arduino or similar project

As a final note – USB is not designed to support very high current loads. If you need to supply high current loads, then you need to design other power connection methods. And finally, in case it wasn’t obvious – this product is only for use with 5V USB power. Nothing more!

Buy this item here where you can buy directly or from eBay. If you are not in the UK, we advise that you use eBay as their systems will avoid you paying double taxes (double VAT).