Cable connections

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Connectors - hard drive - cd rom - floppy - power supply - motherboard - networking

Connectors or cable adapters allow a device to communicate with the motherboard and other devices.

Also known as  adapters they come in a plethora of different types and sizes. With the geek out of the way why do you need an adapter?

Because your device will not work if it is not connected!

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Connectors - IDE connector, this connector is missing the alignment tab, becareful when connecting. Minature Audio connector RJ 45 network cable connector

When the engineers at the electronics company design a device they design it in a way that you can not plug the power into the wrong place or plug a floppy controller cable into a hard drive.

See where I am going? The designers make the computer repair or replacement almost fool proof. I said almost. There are some people - I use this term very loosely! - that can plug the wrong cable into the wrong device.

I have seen it! Hard drive - cd rom - floppy - power supply - motherboard (lots of cables here!)- networking they are all different, and have different functions.

Paralell cable, for printer connections. SATA power connector and ATA power connector - notice the thin plastic. S-Video connector

Every device has one or more connections, the part where the power cable or data cable connects is termed as a connector. There are only two devices that have the same connector but different functions. Do you know which ones I am taking about?

USB connectors Need a longer cable? Use this to extend your usb cable. SCSI 1 to SCSI 2 adaper, connector pins. Notice the slot in the adapter, this is for an alignment tab.

There are devices that have only one adapter, their power is supplied from inside the data cable, these are low voltage devices.

Most USB devices are low voltage. Those that require higher voltage or multiple voltages have a separate connection for power.

Hard drives, cd/dvd rom, floppy drives, and fans are like this. Now you are wondering why these devices have multiple voltages. "Simple My Dear Watson:" the five volts runs the motor that spins the platters. The twelve volts runs the motor that moves the seeker head back and forth over the platters. Also the twelve volt is supplied in the positive and the negative, didn't know that eh? Why? Well the positive twelve volts causes the seeker head to move in one direction and the negative in the opposite direction. Vola! you can read your data!

VGA 15 pin connector Keyboard-mouse-video (KVM) to all in one KVM cable conectors Keyboard-mouse-video (KVM) cable

Most adapters are made out of plastic and have metal pins that mate with the opposite pins on the receiving adapter. How many adapters have a metal shield? Hint: they are all on the outside of the computer.

Now suppose you had to change out a device but to get to the device you had to remove some other devices, say the cd/dvd rom and floppy drives. As you work your way down to the device you need to change you are disconnecting cables. Did you notice that each cable is made in a certain way? Like the floppy controller cable adapter is smaller than the cd/dvd rom controller cable? Or the power supply cable for the cd/dvd rom is different from the floppy drive? Almost fool proof.

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Ok, got the device out and ready to put it back in. If (and this is a big IF) the device you are replacing is a hard drive did you notice the controller cable adapter? I though not, ok I will bail you out this time, the hard drive controller cable adapter and the cd/dvd rom controller cable adapter are almost exactly the same, (on newer computers that have SATA drives it is different) the EIDE hard drive has enhanced integrated drive electronics, to make it faster. To designate the EIDE from IDE the designers need to come up with a way to make them different but the same, the EIDE will be blue with grey or grey with blue. IDE connectors will be black. Why the different colors? The EIDE has three more wires connected inside the adapter, the IDE is short three wires. If you plug the IDE connector into the EIDE drive it will either function erratically or not function at all.

So now you know all there is to know about adapter, right?

Hummm? Well grasshopper which two adapters look exactly alike and can be plugged in wrong?

The main thing about adapter are they are plastic. They will become brittle with age. So if you are disconnecting a device that has been in your computer since it was assembled the adapters should be handled with care. If you break a connector you will have to replace the cable it is connected to, if the adapter is on a device you are disconnecting to move and break the connector chances are you will have to by a new device.

Last thing, even though the computer and device manufactures use a lot of common sense in designing their products if it can be connected wrong it will be connected wrong, Murphy's law # 63.

After all this did you figure out which two adapter are are the same physically but have different functions?

Mouse and Keyboard! Keyboard (purple) mouse (light green) connectors - they look the same but have different functions!

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