Phone Charger: PowerPole-to-USB Adapter

I have a Virgin Mobile Kyocera Marbl phone, for reasons discussed there. It’s sufficiently nonstandard that the “fits most phones” headsets and chargers don’t. In particular, I have yet to see a charger with the proper adapter dingus for this phone.

Fortunately, the charger is rated at 5 V @ 350 mA… that’s easy enough.

Phone charger with Powerpoles
Phone charger with Powerpoles

Cut the charger’s cable in the middle, more or less, and install Anderson Powerpole connectors. The standard color code for 5 V is white / black; don’t use red / black for fear you’ll eventually plug it into a 12 V source and toast the phone.

The charger wires are most likely a far smaller gauge than the 15 A (!) connector pins prefer, so strip the conductors twice as long, double the ’em over and perhaps add a short length of multistrand hookup wire to fill out the barrel before you crimp it.

Check the polarity before you poke the pins in the housings: you want the +5 V pin in the white housing!

I aligned the housings to match the ARES / RACES standard, as described there, as that’s what I’ve done with all my other Powerpole connectors. If your phone expects some weird-ass voltage, maybe you want to make certain it can’t possibly mate with anything that’ll kill it stone cold dead. Oh, and in that case pick a suitably different color. Blue seems to be the standard for 9 V, at least in the ham radio arena, for whatever that’s worth.

Add heatshrink tubing for strain relief (it might slip over the finished pins if you forget), wrap cold-vulcanizing rubber tape around the whole connector for more strain relief, and you’re done. It’ll make your charger cable resemble an anaconda eating a pig, but that’s OK with me.

USB charger to phone cable
USB charger to phone cable

Now the phone can commune with a bench power supply, a bulk 5 V supply, or nearly anything that you’ve hacked into using Powerpoles. It’s your job to make sure the voltage matches up!

Now, if you haven’t already, make a USB-to-Powerpole adapter. Alas, even though the phone uses 5 V, it draws too much current to charge directly from a standard USB port. However, I have a Black & Decker Pocket Power battery pack with a regulated USB outlet that can allegedly supply 250 mA and seems to handle the phone just fine.

So: cut a spare USB cable, verify that the red conductor is 5 V and the black is common (hell hath no fury like that of an unjustified assumption and we’re dealing with bottom-dollar suppliers here), crimp, align housings, add strain relief, and try it out.

This should work for any phone with a dumb, bulk-power charger. If you cut the cable and find three conductors, solder that devil back together again; there’s no telling what’s passing along that third rail!