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Using Micro-USB Plugs and Sockets for E-T Connections

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  • Member since
    August, 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 5,622 posts
Using Micro-USB Plugs and Sockets for E-T Connections
Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, September 07, 2017 3:34 AM


I recently had another decoder install in a brass HO locomotive and as part of the project of course, I had to find some method of getting the wiring to the motor, headlight and right-rail pickup to and from the tender-mounted decoder into the engine.

The thought occurred to me to look into the micro-USB plugs that I encounter every day when I plug electronic devices into the PC or the ubiquitous charger cords that are everywhere.

Previously, I had been making up multi-pin connectors on the fly such as this:


I took one of the dozens of micro-USB cords I have around the house and carefully sliced away the thick, surrounding plastic and exposed just the wiring and the sleeve.

This turned out to be a pretty compact package AND it is keyed so that the plug only fits one way. In the lower part of the photo is a bare plug and socket. You really have to be careful with the soldering on the SMD socket.

In the case of many brass locos there is usually enough room under the tender deck (footplate) to fit one of the pre-fitted sockets shown at left in the above photo. Much easier to deal with. The plastic on both the plug and socket take heat very well without distorting.

Here is a look during my experimental fit-up stage:

I soldered the red/right rail pickup to the socket housing, which in turn is the bare wire on the plug side. I used two different sizes of heat shrink to keep everything snug. Notice, too, that I notched out the PC board where the two mounting eyes are. These happened to slip right between the brass bulkhead sheets at the front of the tender Yes

Later, I made up a plug using proper NMRA DCC wire colors. You CAN actually get six conductors out of a micro-USB even though most computer applications only use five.

I found the plugs and sockets through Amazon but there are certainly other sources.


dispensing with the two-piece snap on plastic cover, of course.

 Maybe these have been suggested by others but so far I have not seen them mentioned. I like having a six-pin connector in a compact package like these. I think they would be handy for places where you have to unplug stuff like diesel shells where the lighting connections can be troublesome, as in Athearn Genesis types where each headlight and ditch light has to be wired in.

Cheers, Ed

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 24,295 posts
Posted by rrinker on Thursday, September 07, 2017 7:25 AM

 Great idea. Especially those pre-mounted ones to put on a loco tender. They should be rugged enough to take multiple plug and unplug cycles, and a whole heck of a lot easier than those JST connectors used on e.g. Broadway Limited locos.

 I think YMMV when getting 6 coonnections out - I don't think there is any guarantee that the ground pin isn't also connected to the connector shell. If you need more - a Type C is about the same size, they should have those on little breakout boards as well, although the individual connections will be quite tiny to solder to, but there's up to 24 pins available there - more than enough even for the fanciest of lighting schemes.



Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's


Visit my web site at for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • 2,736 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, September 07, 2017 8:18 AM

I went with a micro USB connector on my camera car to keep the onboard battery in the camera working.  The operational specs on the camera is over 60 minutes per charge but and that’s a big but . . . .  with the camera WiFi on the battery life is about 10 minutes.
I mounted the connector on the camera pan gear using super flexible turntable arm wire to operate the camera from the two 1000ma Lithium batteries that power the Nano and servo.
The goodie on top of the batteries is a dual cell Lithium charger board for easy charging.  The charger board is removable, it plugs into the battery holder.
I have a 5 volt regulator on the Nano expansion board to reduce the 8.4 volts from the two 1000ma cells.  That powers the Nano, servo and camera for about 40 minutes.
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
My Model Railroad   
Bakersfield, California
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 25 posts
Posted by Gaucho on Thursday, September 07, 2017 9:27 AM

It never ceases to amaze me what I learn but reading these postings. I had to google YMMV but now  I know Big Smile

Moe Bursztein

Hooked on CNJ

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