Adding USB To Your Keyboard

By: -=LRK=-  
Web Site:
Date: Pre-2005

Similar to our other article, Adding A Headphone Jack, this one will demonstrate how to make your own USB extention cable, and move it up to your keyboard for easy access. Please note that the USB specifications for a cable is a maximum of 15 feet. My experience seems to top out at 25 feet. If you make the cable any longer, it will no longer recognize the device you have added.

You can either make your own USB extention cable, or you can buy a pre-made extention cable. Making your own will be about 1/3 the cost, and can be purchased at our online store. If you would like to just use a pre-made cable, you can skip around the wiring, and jump right into the mounting.

To make a USB cable, you need the wire, a male and female molex, and some molex pins. Inside a USB cable, are 4 smaller wires.

Strip down the ends of the 4 wires as usual, and add 1 Molex pin to each cable. Next, slide each wire with the pin attached, into the white part of the male molex. the wire order is red, white,green then black. It won't actually matter what color you use, but you need to match up the wires on the other end in the same order. Next, turn it over then slide it into the long metal casing. It needs to go all the way in, right to the end of the shaft. Once that is in place, attach the smaller metal outter case and tighten all the pieces together. The male part is now complete.

The female side is trickier, so be careful. Take the 4 pins in the back and streach them out. Take it slow, because you don't want to snap the pins.

You will now need to solder the 4 sires onto the 4 pins in the same order as before. I would suggest using heatshrink, since you will be working in such a small area.

Once you have finished both ends, try the cable out to make sure it works as expected. If all is well, then wrap the ends with electrical tape. At this point you will feel a great sence of accomplishment.

Metal Brace
We need something to attach the USB cable to, on the inside of the keyboard. I put some real thought into what everyone would have laying around the house, and I came up with this. It was the right size, and definately strong enough, so it seemed to be a solid choice. If you think of something better, by all means, use it.

Start by drilling a hole through the top part. This will be attached to the keyboard later. Next, drill 2 small holes that will hold the bottom of the USB, then cut the whole piece off.

See how it's going to attach? The USB goes into one end, and the other mounts to the keyboard. We had to go through this step, otherwise there won't be anything strong enough to hold the USB in place when we plug in and out the devices.

Take the other part of the brace, and mark out where you will make the same cuts again. I am assuming you will be wanting to put 2 or more USB ports in the back. You have all the parts, your doing the job, you might as well add more than one. After you pencil it out, bend the metal in the middle and make the same cuts. When your done, you should have 2 metal pieces that look similar.

Open the keyboard up, and drill the holes in the back for the screws. These are going to hold the metal, and the metal is going to hold the USB port. For me, this was the worst part of the whole thing. Getting everything aligned the way I wanted sucked big time. Anyway, rest the USB ports onto the top of the plastic keyboard rim, screw it all into place and then use Crazy Glue to affix the USB to the metal and the plastic. Use plenty, make sure it's secure. It would really suck to have this pop out in 3 months.

The next part requires you to put the top of the keyboard back on partically. You need to see where it comes down onto the USB ports. Pencil out where they meet, then cut out the holes so you can fully close the lid.

Cut a hole for the USB cable to come out the back of the keyboard and put it all together again. With the HeadPhone Mod from before, I am having quite a few cables comming out the back of the keyboard. I used some tubing to wrap them up together.

While this approach worked, you may not want to do all that wiring, and thats fine. You can just buy a premade cable and glue that to the metal on the inside. Originally, I had hoped that I could split the wire and make my own USB Hub, but that didn't work at all. When I plugged in 2 devices, they both lost power, I tried a couple different ways, but it just didn't work out as planned. So that's why I needed to make 2 sets of wires for the keyboard, which plug into 2 ports on my my USB Hub.

If you found this article helpful, you can find plenty more back on the main page.