USB-C Where It Was Never Intended To Be

The USB-C revolution is well under way, as first your new phone, then your single-board computer, and now your laptop are likely so sport the familiar reversible round-cornered connector. We’re still in the crossover period of requiring to keep micro USB, proprietary laptop, and USB-C power supplies at hand, but the promise of a USB-C-only world is tantalisingly close. For [Purkkaviritys] that’s a little bit closer now, as he’s modified his Thinkpad T440s to take a USB charger instead of its proprietary Lenovo square-plug part. (Video, embedded below.)

At its heart is a USB-PD emulator module that does all the hard work of negotiation with the power supply, giving the laptop the DC voltage it needs. It’s not quite that simple though, because a resistor is required to reassure the laptop that it’s got a genuine power supply. The module is encased in a carefully-designed surround that neatly takes the space vacated by the original connector, and since this laptop has its internal power connector on a short cable it is made very straightforward to fit into the case. If you didn’t know it was a home-made upgrade, you could be forgiven for thinking that this laptop left the factory with a USB-C power socket.

The USB-C module used here is a versatile part. We’ve previously seen it in a soldering iron conversion.

25 thoughts on “USB-C Where It Was Never Intended To Be

  1. I have a broken USB port in my ThinkPad R400, when I first started reading this blog, I thought, “Hey, I could replace the bad one with USB-C!”, but I’m satisfied with the current DC connector on it.
    I’d be more interested in data transfer capability.

      1. Would be nice if some company would get off its arse and make a USB C ExpressCard. ExpressCard has PCIe x1. There are PCIe x1 USB C cards for desktops. ExpressCard provides additional power for its USB 2.0 port.

        Shouldn’t be any technical reasons why not to make a USB C ExpressCard. So what if it can’t deliver *all* the power USB C on a desktop can, what matters is having a real USB C port for devices that will not work properly, if at all, with a USB 3 to C adapter.

      1. Broken wires, happened while changing the motherboard, and by that time I just wanted to get it back together enough to see if the replacement mobo worked.
        (That particular USB port appeared to be more difficult to replace than the Mobo.)

    1. These are indeed the components of the full term, but ‘purkkaviritys’ means MacGyvering, or performing dodgy hacks that may involve using bubble gum to attach things etc.

  2. my X380 Yoga got both square charger and Usb C, its awesome as we got both older chargers and newer usb c chargers at work and at home.

    would love a hack that just added Usb-C next to the square charger rather than replacing it.

    1. Proprietary connectors are fairly common.
      That’s said, my HP laptop has a barrel, but it’s such a large one it might as well be proprietary. As for Apple, you’ll pry my MagSafe connectors out of my cold, dead… no you won’t. You’ll knock them easily out of my MacBook when you carelessly walk past, without even nudging the laptop and certainly without depositing it on the floor.

  3. My buddy was asking about my Chromebook since he needs one for work and he might pick up the new version. He was happy it’d be USBc charging and i remarked how i preferred the ~almost~ generic chunky barrel and pin. But, then, the main thing i love about the thing is its ruggishness. It’s hard to love technology you can’t toss onto a bed.

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