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USB Bulkhead Connector?

Any recommendations on an affordable, submersible bulkhead connector with a USB port, or a penetrator that could accommodate a USB port, but be sealed off completely while underwater? I want to be able to make a USB connection to what’s inside my waterproof housing when out of the water, but have a cap on it to seal it off from water when underwater. (I.e. no attached cable when underwater…)

So far my searches online are only bringing up IP67 “waterproof” USB connectors that only seem to be made to keep rainwater out. Or extremely pricey connectors like these:

Any recommendations for anything more affordable?

Hi @Lawrence,

A penetrator with a cable through it would likely be the best approach for signal integrity, but would require some kind of separate enclosure for the cable end to be protected in.

On the connector-bulkhead front the most suitable actual USB connectors I could find (beyond the DNC ones you linked to) were these, which have an IP68 rating. There are micro-USB cables in there that seem to be rated to 10m for 3 hours, but I believe they’re USB-2 only, and you may well wish to go beyond 10m deep. The standard A and C type connectors seem to just have “IP68” with no qualifier, which likely means they’re tested to 1.5m depth for 30 minutes, which isn’t suitable for a submersible.

Beyond that your best bets are more standard connectors like Cobalt Connectors and SubConn Micro Circular Connectors, although because they’re not designed specifically for USB signals they may have signal integrity issues - particularly if you require USB 3.


Is there a particular reason you need a USB connection? If you’ve got a non-metallic enclosure you may be able to connect via wifi when out of the water, e.g.

and the Droplet v2 uses a similar idea (wifi provides shell access to the control computer).

Thanks, yeah, the Amphinol products looks like they might work at least for shallow water/prototyping applications. Or the cable+penetrator with an external waterproof housing for the port.

WiFi is more convenient, definitely, but for the combo I’m using (GoPro + Raspberry Pi), USB is about six times as fast. Plus with USB you can have any number of GoPro + Pis and they won’t interfere with each other. With WiFi, once you start adding more than one, the interference really kills transfer speeds.

Which type of USB connector do you need inside the housing? Which type of connector do you need under a protective cap of the bulkhead connector (Female or Male)? Do you have already a port (threaded or just hole through) on your housing, or you can make it any size?

I’m still designing everything, so I’m flexible on what is under the protective cap – I was leaning towards a female micro-USB port for the small size, but might go with a type-C since I’m a bit more familiar with soldering to those. Currently I’m just using the BlueRobotics end caps (10mm ports), but can adapt if needed.

For me, the easiest way to make you the bulkhead connector is based on a 16mm port. USB Type C Female - under a protective cap, from the bulkhead connector cable about 3ft long with USB Type C Male connector on the end.

You might have a look for WEIPU SP21 Connectors. They offer IP68 rated USB Connectors.

Hi Lawrence,

This is Damon from Blue Trail Engineering. We have done several different types of USB connectors using our Cobalt connectors. Every customer has slightly different needs, so we don’t have a standard USB connector configuration. But if you drop me a line, I’d be happy to help you out. Typically, when we do a USB connector, we charge just $5 or $10 more than our standard connectors.

Under the bulkhead connector’s protective cap (which we call a “dummy plug”), there would NOT be a USB connector. Instead, you’d have to plug in a USB-to-Cobalt adapter cable (which we would provide).

Our connectors are rated to 600m and are extremely reliable.

I believe most of my customers are doing USB 2. Eliot is right: USB 3 may not work as well.

Damon

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There is a company in China called DWTEK and their information is as follows:
e
Eileen Liu劉愛齡
Sales and Marketing Specialist
Sales Department
DWTEK Co., Ltd.

Hope this helps.

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Hi This is Eileen from DWTEK. We are a company provides ROVs and the connectors and other components. Our biggest success case in subsea connector is that, the connectors and the spare parts you see in our ROVs all came from ourselves. Our ROVs have performed in offshore wind farms, these show our quality and capabilities.

feel free to contact me if needed.

Hi @dubi and @Eileen, welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

To stay relevant to the topic, does DWTEK offer any sub-sea USB bulkhead connectors, or connectors that have been verified to work with USB signals?

Hello, I’ve checked with our engineer. DWTEK Ethernet connector’s perfomrance as below:
USB 2.0 up to 480Mbps (60MB/s)

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