USB (short for Universal Serial Bus) is a great standard – it allows virtually any device to talk to any other device over a very fast connection. An enormous number of peripheral devices can be connected using simple and inexpensive hubs. Unfortunately, USB connectors were designed for the office, not the cockpit. Aircraft vibration can, over time, wear on the contacts in the plug causing data loss or power failure to the peripheral.
To overcome that potential issue, I’m kicking around the idea of building an enclosure that mechanically stabilizes the hub and plugs:
The enclosure clamps around the hub and the plugs, holding them securely. The plugs are fully isolated and supported, preventing any kind of motion. The fit is tight enough that you need to loosen the screws to insert or remove a plug, but given that FlightLink cables aren’t removed very often that’s a good thing.
For the prototype pictured above I’ve sized the holes to fit the FlightLink cable dongles exactly. The GPS has a slightly smaller plug, so the slot where it’s plugged in will need a strip of neoprene tape on each side to grip it. The design is fairly simple and could readily be made from either high strength plastic or aluminum. Plastic would probably be lighter and less expensive. Aluminum would be a somewhat stronger but more expensive.
If you like this idea and would be interested in ordering one of these, please let me know.