USB Hub Design


Sometimes when I'm at the coffee shop I need to use more USB devices than my MacBook can support. I love Apple design and was disappointed to see that there weren't any aluminum hubs that matched my Macs, and really there didn't seem to be any that weren't junk - so I set out to design my own. This is a conceptual 3 port hub that follows Apple's "unibody" design. The hub has a simple mechanism that allows it to pop up with a touch to store its USB cord.

The hub is designed for aesthetics, portability, manufacturability, and ease of assembly. Some notable features:

  • Assembly will be simple as all of the innards assemble to the molded plastic bottom piece which then snaps into the aluminum unibody.
  • The pop-up base could be made from an extruded channel with a small amount of finish machining.
  • There is only one screw which I hope to eliminate.

Because I wanted to focus on the mechanical design, the electronics of the device are from an existing USB hub.

front view back view

The hub is extremely simple to assemble with nearly everything being a snap fit. Basic assembly steps can be seen below:


The key to the mechanism that pops the base out with a simple press is a cam that a cylinder mounted on the pop out base rides in. The cam is preloaded by the reset springs; a push on the top of the hub will release the base from inside the hub to conveniently store the cord, and another push will lock the base back inside. Repeat.

Now that the conceptual design is complete it is time to perform an in depth mechanical analysis of the system to ensure that the mechanism cannot bind, all of the components are strong enough while being as light as possible, to determine if wear will be an issue, and if so to mitigate it.

bottom release mechanism top view

I need to find time to buld it now...

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Copyright Shane Wighton2024