Extra USB Ports Via Motherboard Headers

Mark II PortsMy Gigabyte Z270N-WiFi motherboard packs a lot of features into a little Mini-ITX form factor. One downside of packing features into the standard motherboard back plate is that they crowd out the USB ports and I’m left with only 4.

Well, 4 of the popular rectangular types anyway. I get a fifth USB port of the new USB-C connector that I like, but don’t have many uses for yet.

The surface of the motherboard was also cramped, and instead of the usual two (or more) USB2 headers, this board had only one USB2 and one USB3 header. Which should be enough.

Typically, a modern PC tower case has a few USB ports exposed to the user, and those ports connect to these headers. Since I’m building my own case, I’ll have to come up with something on my own.

I could buy the pieces and solder up my own, but it’s hardly worth the effort when Amazon marketplace has many vendors selling them ready-made. Since USB2 is not a very demanding specification by today’s standards, I decided I might as well try the lowest bidder first. At the time of my window shopping, that meant this particular two-pack.

These plugs came mounted on metal plates suitable for installation into a standard PC case. The mounting was not a perfect fit: the plug bulged as if the distance between holes on the plate is half a millimeter narrower than the actual distance between screws on the USB plug. But that’s OK in my book, since I’m not using the metal plate anyway. For the Luggable PC Mark II I removed the plugs and zip-tied them to one of the supports. I’ll design a better home for them on the next draft.

The other problem was its wiring sheath not fitting well inside the molded plug. Showing inside wire at the junction. Since I don’t expect much movement and flex in this wire, the lack of strain relief should not be a functional issue.

Bad Strain Relief

The important part is that they function just fine as USB ports.

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