The USB Type C

Connecting bits of military display and communications equipment presents all sorts of challenges from electromagnetic control to temperature tolerance and ruggedness. Even the ability to plug and unplug with gloved hands is vitally important.

So a wide range of connectors are used, most of them on the chunky side of chunky!

The Amphenol 62GB as used on BOWMAN is a good example.

BOWMAN connector
BOWMAN connector

USB is used, there are many robust connectors available.

USB Socket
USB Socket
USB plug
USB plug

One of the disadvantages of the existing USB connector is its power handling and orientation specific fit, as we all know, plugging a USB cord in always requires two attempts.

The recently ratified USB Type C connector seeks to address these issues. It has a reversible design with much improved EMI protection and power capacity. It also includes a stanardised radio control channel to radio devices.

USB C
USB C

No doubt military equipment manufacturers will seek to exploit this new standard in the ongoing quest for ‘one connector to rule them all’

19 Comments
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jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
January 28, 2015 8:41 am

a jolly good thing it will be too.

an open-standard for data/video/power over a single reversible cable:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/8558/displayport-alternate-mode-for-usb-typec-announced

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 28, 2015 9:10 am

Welcome on the civvy side (hikers!), too.

The triangle of tablet, mobile and GPS becomes now a set of reserve batteries for each other, instead of extra (and now superfluous powerpacks). Especially the tablet, with its much bigger battery, for the phone as the GPS devices have been built to be frugal.

PhilEeeeeee
PhilEeeeeee
January 28, 2015 10:12 pm

Surely a reversible USB connection is pointless if the MoD continues to impose a policy of clocking on all connectors?

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
January 28, 2015 11:53 pm

He, he TD, where do you want me to start… CBRN Sensor integration is the next big thing that requires laptops, a snip at £4 to £6k, throw in a data box to connect all the sensors together to collate all their data output into one cable to the laptop, hmm, that’s a fair packet.
Then add the cables and connectors from the sensors to the data box..holy shit, use Amphenal, the Microsoft of military connectors. So take let’s say 6 connections from 6 sensors or detectors, no change out of 70-80 quid then for each connector.
Some idiot in procurement has read a document published in the 1960’s that warns of Tempest and HEMP hazards in electronic equipment including cables. So that requirement is placed into the bid that means to protect the data box from High Altitude Electron Magnetic Pulse from an Atmospheric Nuclear burst you need to buy the EMP hardened connectors from Amphenal, so that’s a mere £250 per connector and that’s only for 6. But when you are the market leader in connectors you can afford to be reassuringly expensive…

mr.fred
mr.fred
January 29, 2015 1:51 am

Given that cable connectors in most cable harnesses are already handed by keyways in the cylindrical fastening section, why is the handedness of a conventional USB a problem? How often are these connections made and broken?
How much damage could you do by inserting an unsecured USB device into, say, a secure communications system?

Chuck
Chuck
January 29, 2015 11:47 am

Physical access is the holy grail of hacking. If you can get to a port you can rip even military systems apart or just sit and listen. Some high end server farms make bank vaults look quaint for just that reason.

Ars has done a few good write-ups on this kind of hacking, here’s a few on USB’s in particular;

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/01/playing-nsa-hardware-hackers-build-usb-cable-that-can-attack/
http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/07/this-thumbdrive-hacks-computers-badusb-exploit-makes-devices-turn-evil/
http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/10/meet-badbios-the-mysterious-mac-and-pc-malware-that-jumps-airgaps/

wf
wf
January 29, 2015 12:24 pm

@Chuck: very much agreed. If you want to interconnect military systems larger than a handset, ethernet (with power over ethernet if necessary) is a better option, with 802.1x authentication being very widespread.

Topman
Topman
January 29, 2015 7:36 pm

@TD

It would be a good idea to have as few types of connectors as possible, but not just for data but power supply. I know you’ve covered batteries before of which there are many, you should try power supply; 28v, 115v, 240v and 415v all with a myraid of connectors each one seems to be different from the next all creating the need for a new set of adaptors. If I’m honest I’m not sure if there is a set standard procurement wise, if there is no-one follows it!

mr.fred
mr.fred
January 30, 2015 1:39 am

Topman,
Electrical connectors are usually sized for the power requirements associated with the equipment that they are connecting. Since the sort of things they connect tend to vary greatly I don’t see why a standard connector would be advantageous? On top of this most installed equipment bears more in common with an automotive wiring loom than a USB cable or a plug socket.

Topman
Topman
January 30, 2015 6:51 am

@ Mr Fred

I meant a standard sized connector within each voltage, so one for 28v, one for 115v so it’s simple to power various types of equipment. Slightly ot i know, but still would be a big help in certain areas instead of having all sorts of different adaptors.

mr.fred
mr.fred
January 31, 2015 2:29 am

Topman,
What I believe you are missing is that voltage and power are not synonymous. A 28v 5A connector is very much smaller than a 28v 500A connector.
A common connector for standard power increments might be of use provided that you don’t use up too much space and mass compared to a specific harness assembly.

Topman
Topman
January 31, 2015 8:52 am

@ Mr Fred

I am talking of similar types of equipment rather than hugely different ones, which I know would have to be different.

‘A common connector for standard power increments might be of use’

I’d say it would be of great use.

Topman
Topman
January 31, 2015 9:38 am

Something like that yes. I remember we had to cart these ‘darleks’ around with loads of connectors on them for such issues, I’ve no idea what they were made from but they weighed a bloody ton!

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 31, 2015 9:51 am

Was it a transformer, for stepping down the voltage from the mains? Or a source of power itself? Even with common connectors it will not negate the need for transformers as it depends on the power rating of the supply. But it may help logistically and for those expedient repair moments.

Topman
Topman
January 31, 2015 11:01 am

It was a while ago, but I think it performed both functions.

mr.fred
mr.fred
January 31, 2015 11:18 pm

Topman,
Where would these standard cables be such a great advantage?
Given the rats nest of cables down the back of my computer desk, where all the excess length of standardised cable gets put, Im not really seeing it in any installation where you don’t have a bucket load of spare space and mass. What are all these common systems that will benefit?

Topman
Topman
February 1, 2015 9:02 am

‘What are all these common systems that will benefit?’

Various applications on a/c and support equipment for them.

mr.fred
mr.fred
February 1, 2015 3:01 pm

Topman,
Could you be any more vague? Is a/c aircraft? What applications?