USB Active Optical Cables (AOC)

May 16, 2019 at 8:00 AM


USB has long been proven to be a dependable, flexible and simple-to-use interface that is a staple for a multitude of applications. Along the way, USB has adapted to offer a variety of formats to fit today’s technology needs. From power delivery to SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2, USB has got you covered. Now the interface is taking things to another level with the introduction of USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables (AOC).


Active Optical Cable technology uses the same electrical inputs as traditional copper cabling, but with optical fiber between connectors. With electrical-to-optical conversion on the cable ends, AOC provides faster speeds and distance performance while also maintaining compatibility with standard electrical interfaces. Building upon the features of AOC, USB 3.0 AOC is made to be compliant with SuperSpeed USB electrical specifications, allowing for easy plug-and-play use and continuous operation between existing USB 3.0 hosts, hubs and devices.


These USB cables have an ultra-thin profile and much longer reach than a standard USB cable. In fact, they can reach speeds of 2.2 Gbps at over 100 meters. This allows for USB 3.0 AOC cables to be used in new and different ways USB might not have been able to before, such as with security cameras, industrial and medical machine control systems and in high-def surveillance applications. These cables are capable of speeds up to 5 Gbps, depending on the length of the cable. They also boast low power consumption and minimal EMI/RFI since fiber optic technology is being used.


Though USB 3.0 AOC is not backwards compatible, it won’t support older USB standards, there are many other features that make it worthwhile. Overall, USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables can be a great option if you have an application requiring USB connectivity over a long distance that traditional USB cables cannot meet.


To help you with your next high-speed, long distance USB application, check out our USB 3.0 AOC cables


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Power of USB Power Delivery

February 21, 2019 at 8:00 AM


In this blog, we’ve talked a lot about USB. From USB 3.1 to USB 3.2, and even vibration-proof USB, USB is always reinventing itself, so it’s no wonder that it remains a powerfully popular interface. Now, USB is taking another step in its progression with USB power delivery, a fast charging technology with significantly higher power levels than standard charging. Here, we’ll take a look at the power of USB power delivery.


In the beginning, USB was merely a data interface that was able to provide a limited supply of power. Today, USB has evolved into a main power provider with a data interface. Thus, many things now use USB ports including cars, aircraft, laptops and wall sockets to charge or power devices and transfer data easily. In order to build on these existing USB functions, USB power delivery (USB-PD) has been developed to allow for maximum functionality of USB by delivering data and increased flexible power over a single cable.


USB-PD increases power levels from current standards and boosts them up to 100W. This allows for larger, USB-PD-enabled devices, such as tablets and laptops, to be charged over a USB-C cable without the use of bulky power cables. USB-C cables were designed to be able to handle the increased wattage of USB-PD without overheating or being damaged. USB-PD also enables the freedom of power direction that is not fixed, allowing the host or peripheral device to provide power. With USB-PD, enabled devices are capable of power management that is optimized across multiple peripherals, allowing each device to use only the power it needs. Additional power can be given as it is required for a specific application. This system also provides intelligent and flexible power management through hub communication with the PC. Plus, low-power devices, such as headsets, can negotiate to receive only the power they need. USB-PD specifications have been added to both USB 2.0 and 3.0 adopter agreements.


With the introduction of USB-PD, USB continues to prove itself an indispensable interface relevant in today’s continually changing world of technology.


Machine Vision and USB

September 22, 2016 at 8:00 AM


Machine vision systems are a great way for manufacturers to use advanced image capture and analysis to streamline inspection and production processes.


From military to medical to industrial, this technology can be applied across various industries to reduce defects, increase productivity and make manufacturing more efficient. As machine vision systems are being deployed globally, USB3 Vision cable assemblies are a top choice to support the technology.


USB3 Vision cables offer the ease of connection that we have come to expect from USB, with speeds fast enough to support machine vision applications.  With a data throughput rate 10 times faster than USB 2.0 (4.8 Gbps vs. 480 Mbps), USB3 Vision cables are perfectly suited to become the most popular machine vision interface.


The increased bandwidth substantially reduces the time required for transferring large amounts of data or video, even when supporting 4K UHD resolution. In addition to high data transmission rates, USB3 Vision cables also provide up to 4.5W of power over five meters or more and can easily be scaled to support multiple cameras.


Based on the USB 3.0 standard, the USB3 Vision interface uses USB 3.0 ports that are expected to become standard on most PCs in the near future. Having the plug-and-play interface readily available on most devices will make communication between devices from different manufacturers simple and easy.


With features including high bandwidth, ease of use, and low cost, USB3 Vision cables are ideal for machine vision applications across many sectors. To view L-com’s complete line of AIA-certified USB3 Vision cables, click here.


For more information on this topic, read our blog post How USB is Shaping the Future of Machine Vision.


Good Vibrations: Vibration-Proof USB Connectors

April 21, 2016 at 8:00 AM


Universal Serial Bus (USB) is one of the most successful and widely used connectivity technologies. It can be found on televisions, computers, printers, keyboards and cell phones.  Not only does USB allow devices to connect to one another, it can also be used to power devices.


As popular as USB is, there is one fundamental problem that plagues the technology: sensitivity to vibration. Traditional USB connectors rely on a friction-fit, meaning that they don’t latch or lock when they are mated. A friction-fit can result in a USB connector to unexpectedly pop-out and dislodge from its mated port when jostling, vibration, or cable pull occur.  This is especially problematic in high-vibration, military, industrial and medical applications.


Fortunately, there are several vibration-proof USB connector options to improve connection performance and put your USB cable on lockdown.


Latching USB Cables


Latching USB cables feature latching plugs on the side of the USB connector. This provides a secure connection with lock-down mating retention.  Latches are located on USB 2.0 Type-A connectors.


USB coil cables also utilize latching connectors to battle vibration and cable pull. They have latches that lock into the channels on each side of a USB jack and the cord retracts and expands from 2.5 feet to 12.5 feet




Thumbscrews are another great way to protect a USB connection from vibration. They ensure a secure connection and prevent the USB connectors from disconnecting. Locking thumbscrews can be used with machine vision applications or in any application where vibration is an issue.


High-Retention Connectors

High-retention connectors are an effective way to combat the effects of vibration on your USB connection. With a mating force of 40N max and an un-mating force of 15N min, they have 50% higher retention than standard USB connectors.  USB adapters with high-retention connectors are easy to use and feature screw mount hardware for a secure connection every time.


For all the ease of use that USB offers, vibration can be a problem. If standard USB’s friction-fit isn’t keeping your devices connected, one of these solutions may be the perfect fit to turn these problematic pulsations into good vibrations.


For more information on USB, read our blog post A Tutorial on USB.


USB 3.1 Gen 1 - Fasten your Seat Belts!

July 16, 2015 at 10:00 AM


It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's SuperSpeed USB!


Your data transfer rates will soar to heroic speeds with the launch of USB 3.1 Gen 1, also known as SuperSpeed USB, which boasts three main advantages: speed, power delivery and the new Type-C connector.


As its name suggests, SuperSpeed USB delivers data transfer rate up to 5 Gbps, That makes it 10x faster than Hi-Speed USB and it provides power of up to 45 Watts. Plus, it minimizes user wait time because it is a Sync-N-Go technology.


SuperSpeed USB delivers optimized power efficiency with no device polling and lower active and idle power requirements. It is able to negotiate power, which allows two devices to decipher which one powers the other and the power direction can be changed without switching the physical cable direction. USB 3.1 Gen 1 is also backward compatible with previous versions of USB as far back as USB 2.0.


With USB 3.1 Gen 1 supporting USB Type-C, charging becomes easier than ever with the Type-C connector and its simple, reversible design that takes the guess work and frustration out of plugging in your USB devices. The smaller and slimmer Type-C connector will replace both full-sized USB connectors as well as micro-USB connectors, though there will be USB 3.1 Gen 1 cables that are backward compatible with existing USB 3.0 ports.


Set to launch in late 2015 or early 2016, USB 3.1 Gen 1 is coming to market as a single-cable solution supporting video, audio, data and power.  With this super-charged USB delivering more speed, more power and a sleeker, fool-proof design, USB is likely to remain the de-facto interface connecting your devices.


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