Genius Or Cursed, This USB-C Connector Is Flexible

USB connectors have lent themselves to creative interpretations of their mechanical specifications ever since the first experimenter made a PCB fit into a USB-A socket. The USB-C standard with its smaller connector has so far mostly escaped this trend, though this might be about to change thanks to the work of [Sam Ettinger]. His own description of his USB-C connector using a flexible PCB and a BGA-packaged ATTiny84A microcontroller is “cursed”, but we can’t decide whether or not it should also be called “genius”.

Key to this inspired piece of connector fabrication is the realization that the thickness of BGA and flex PCB together comes to the required 0.7 mm. The BGA provides the necessary stiffness, and though it’s a one-sided connector it fits the space perfectly. There are several demo boards as proofs-of-concept, and the whole lot can be found in a GitHub repository.

We can see this technique finding a use in all kinds of diminutive USB-C projects, however cursed or genius it may be. We like to see projects that push the edges of what can be done with the medium, with a nod to a previous cursed USB-C device.

18 thoughts on “Genius Or Cursed, This USB-C Connector Is Flexible

  1. USB-C Logitech unifying receptor with this kind of connector… please :)
    The current dongle is USB A only, and it makes it very unpractical to use on slim laptops that only provide usb-c ports (using adapters kind of completely defeats the point of using such laptop…)

  2. i for one think the usb-c connector is not as good as the hype indicates. its not robust enough to be a replacement for the type-a and b. c is not suited to desktop or industrial use. my 3d printer destroyed its micro usb port shearing it clear off the control board and i dont think the type c would have fared any better. its fine for small devices, its certainly an improvement over the mini/micro and other weird connectors (micro a and b are abominations). but id love to see a scaled up version to replace larger ports. one port cannot rule them all.

    1. you will rip out USB A or B connectors just as well, it’s a user problem, not a design problem…the reason you perceive A and B connectors being more robust is they still somewhat work even with +-0.5mm slack in the connector.

      If you want robust, make a cu$tom cable using “aircraft” connectors, those are reasonably difficult to rip out.
      Or since you have a 3D printer, make the socket well recessed into the enclosure with a tightly fitting hole, so that any side forces are taken by the enclosure and not the connector itself…usb-c lends itself to this well, as it has long, slender connectors and I’ve actually seen this used in a commercial product.

      1. the tongue part in usb type c connectors are the issue. if that thing snaps off, your device is over. especially if we talk about a smartphone or a thin laptop.
        i think – unpopular opinion here – the lightning connector from apple got is just right: reversible and no fragile parts on the socket side.
        if something terrible happens, the tongue of the connector snaps cleanly off, you can easily remove it from the socket with a pair if tweezers, and you only need to replace the “inexpensive” cable.
        i know it sucks on the PD side, and is a proprietary form factor, but i’d have liked an inside-out USB type-c much more, a similar design as lightning.

        1. Lightning is USB 2.0 only and has nowhere the power capability, so you can’t compare them…also, the tongue in usb-c is not likely to snap off before you seriously bork the rest of the connector up, which is why anyone with a brain puts them on a separate, easily replaceable module.

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