Quick Hack: Charge-only USB Cable January 19, 2006

The problem: The ipod nano, when plugged into linux, charges and syncs fine. However, I’ve yet to find (with plenty of searching) a way to both leave it plugged in and to get it to remove the “Do not disconnect” screen. As long as that’s up, I can’t play my music.

The nano has a pretty good battery, but I’d rather be able to listen to music all day, right up until I walk out the door, then leave and hop in my car, still having > 3 hours of battery left. (In case traffic is especially bad – that’s when I need my books/podcasts/music the most!)

Anyway, simple hack. Get a USB extension cable that you have lying around. (They’re the things that have a usb Male (type A) on one end and female (A) on the other end. They often come with flash memory readers or ‘thumb drives’.) Carefully cut a slice into the rubber skin, then into the shielding, and keep peeling back layers until you get to the wires themselves. Clip the green and white wires, (data) leaving the red and black (power) alone. Tape or heatshrink it back up.

Now plug your ipod cable into your new (hacked) extender, plug the ipod bit into the ipod, and the usb bit into a usb port. Wait a minute or so, and your ipod will say ‘charging’, with neither the computer nor the ipod any the wiser about the swiftie you’ve pulled.

In my specific case, it’s a hardware solution for a software bug, but I’m sure there are other cases where it’d be nice to send only power to a usb device without getting a special new cable for it.