[clug] [OT] Random thought: Are there 'magsafe' style connectors for USB?

Ben Nizette bn at niasdigital.com
Tue Mar 8 15:31:28 MST 2011

On 09/03/2011, at 9:17 AM, steve jenkin wrote:

> Anyone heard of USB devices that have a magnetic connector (that can
> break away without damage), like the Apple MagSafe® power connector?
> I was thinking I'd like to use gpg-keys for Thunderbird, stored on a
> USB-key.
> But knowing my propensity to get distracted and/or forget things, I'd
> leave the key behind. Not Good.
> And a 'tether' isn't a good idea for the same reasons:
> if forgotten, would break either the plug, socket or both.
> I'm pretty sure this is a fools' errand:
> it's such an obvious idea that someone (eg. Apple) will have locked it
> down with a patent :-(


The claims are actually quite readable but quite comprehensive.  :-( indeed

I'd happily settle for a non-magnetic solution though, something like the connectors in the original XBox controller cables that separated when you yanked on the cord and stopped you pulling the whole console over.

In the mean time I just make sure anything I don't want to leave behind is tethered to something high-value that I'm very unlikely to forget.  Not exactly a perfect solution if it goes wrong but it hasn't failed me yet :)


> So I'm guessing this could really be a different question:
> Do good folk out there in CLUG-Land use portable gpg/ssh-keys?
> How do you *not* forget them??
> USB-Wireless never took off, bluetooth is a bit expensive and more than
> a tiny bit slow.
> cheers
> steve
> PS: I think there are 3 obvious implementations:
> - a tether with a break-away (magnetic) attachment to 'device'
>   "premium" model with an alert/alarm of a break-away
> - adaptor set (plug + socket).
>   Modify M-M & F-F extensions/adaptors,
>    use all regular devices, potentially fit most sockets.
>    [pin-outs/connections identical to standard USB &
>     connector 'polarised']
> - special plugs & sockets, potentially with in-place socket-adaptor.
>   Either special devices and modified equipment,
>    or special device + socket-adapttors ("sold separately")
>   adaptors either removable or permanent.
>   Like the MagSafe, re-ordered pins, 'palindrome' style
>    allowing un-polarised connection.
> PPS: anyone with good patent searching Fu to find out what's allowed?
>     If I was to have written the Apple MagSafe patent
>     (presuming there is one), I'd have made it generic for
>     any sort of connector, especially the idea of
>     "palindromic" connections. Gotta think they're that bright.
> -- 
> Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
> 0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
> PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA
> sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin
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