From china, with love: bad USB-mini cables

More this time from our love affair with china, the best place we love to hate to have to buy products from. Normally I limit any chinese sourcing unless it’s headers or things that can’t possibly have a problem, or I have a long standing reliable source, I test and really cherry pick suppliers.

This time it’s bad mini USB cables (not micro, I also carry those), and more – see below. I used to source short mini USB cables for my shop from china, as a convenience to the users who want to bundle them for USB products – nice short cables keep clutter to a minimum, these are pretty hard to find in 6″ and thought would be nice to carry them. Usually I don’t test them individually but I always grab a random one from the stock for things around the lab. This week I was doing some testing where I needed a lot of these and found 1, then 2 then a dozen of these were faulty, giving either “USB not recognized” errors, or yielding no power or power but no USB enumeration at all. Turns out about half my supply of these uUSB cables could not properly enumerate MoteinoUSBs/FTDIAdapters etc. So what could it be that such high percentage are fails? Internal shorts? Or poorly soldered wires? Visually they look ok but I did notice some have traces of rust on the end metal connectors. So I opened one up and here’s what I found:

Can you spot the extremely corroded/rusted wires? Where were these kept, in water? Lemon juice? These came from two suppliers and both batches are equally as bad and they are really hard to find in this short length of 6-7″ mini USB cables for some reason, or I’m not good at finding them. Which leads me to speculate they might be made by the same factory, or goes through a single distribution point somewhere, where they get exposed to water or something. Needless to say, I’ve thrown away all the bad ones. The good ones may also have some rust in them, but … at the price offering I think they’re still a bargan and once I run out I may discontinue them.

Thanks china, your quality sucks, as usual. Everybody knows that, but we keep going back because of the price and we deal with chinglish and weeks and weeks of delivery delays. When will this end?

PS: If I sold you a bad USB-mini cable – please let me know and I will make it up to you in a future order via credit or something else. It’s just $2.5 a piece but I care more than that about my customers.

2 thoughts on “From china, with love: bad USB-mini cables

  1. I thought wire was generally either copper or aluminum. Does the rusting imply that this is actually iron wire, or is it just a high level of iron contamination in the wire conductor?

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