Is it possible to BUILD a Thunderbolt to USB3 adapter?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by RadicalxEdward, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. RadicalxEdward macrumors 6502

    RadicalxEdward

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    #1
    I have a late 2011 MBP which has 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 thunderbolt/displayport, and 1 firewire 800 port. Thunderbolt is the best connection for running external apps (like running windows externally) I don't have USB3, and thunderbolt still hasn't become mainstream enough for affordable products. there are only a couple thunderbolt to usb 3 adapters and they all seem to have mostly negative reviews and are $80 minimum. I'm not an electronics expert, but i'm curious if anyone thinks it would be possible, or would have advice on resources for learning what it would take for me to BUILD a thunderbolt to USB3 or USB-C adapter. I realize this may not be possible for an individual. Also, I am not a programmer, so building a driver would be difficult, though most likely necessary.
     
  2. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #2
    No need to build one yourself. Just buy any of the Thunderbolt docks or adapter like this Kanex:

    http://www.kanex.com/thunderbolt-esata

    As for trying to build one yourself, nearly impossible unless you have access to the parts, and can afford the test equipment and cost to get it certified.
     
  3. RadicalxEdward thread starter macrumors 6502

    RadicalxEdward

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    #3
    That Kanex one seems to be based on a common design used by multiple brands, all of whom have primarily negative reviews stating that the adapter disconnects constantly. Plus, $80 isn't doable for me now or in the near future. sometimes stuff like that can be built cheaper than it can be bought, if the person is willing to put the time and effort into it rather than pay for the convince of not having to. Plus, since I don't plan on making 10000 and selling them, I shouldn't need to have anything certified or anything like that.

    If anyone knows of an adapter that's closer to the $25 range then I could do it. But buying a $80-200 adapter just to get USB3 seems like overkill.
     
  4. carestudio macrumors 6502

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    Aug 6, 2008
    #4
  5. RadicalxEdward thread starter macrumors 6502

    RadicalxEdward

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    Mar 8, 2011
    #5
  6. carestudio macrumors 6502

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    Aug 6, 2008
    #6
    I know, but I really would not blame on Apple. Guess what, the Thunderbolt RAID and dock that I am using now actually have pretty good quality. The cheap Amazon USB devices on the other hand failed on me in a couple years of use, or even shorter.

    According to the analysis
    http://crazydiamondstar.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-rough-cost-of-making-Thunderbolt-device.html

    If there is a way to increase the market share, and press on the manufacturers, we will have better chance to use Thunderbolt cheaper. I guess it's going to be Thunderbolt 3, it would not apply to your case since you have Thunderbolt 1. DOH.
     
  7. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #7
    The disconnect issues some reported have more to do with the USB device and sleep states, not the TB adapter. If the USB device is well behaved on your Mac and Mac OS (most on the low cost end do not meet USB specs and do not behave well) it will probably be well behaved via TB. Low cost usually means shortcuts in testing, a problem that has plagued the USB wild west for years. TB is higher cost primarily because they just don't let any fly by night outfit participate. Folks and Pros that want/need performance just don't want to deal with compatibility issues. TB has been a solid interface, but someone has to pay for all that extra effort.
     
  8. RadicalxEdward thread starter macrumors 6502

    RadicalxEdward

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    #8
    I'm willing to pay more for thunderbolt over USB 3, especially since I don't own any other connections that are comparable, but it has still got to be worth it and competitively priced. Even among one manufacturer that makes both the prices are ridiculous. Take the LaCie rugged mobile drive (that funky orange one) The thunderbolt one is $40 more than the USB3 one in the same capacity. $40 difference just for a different connector doesn't make much sense to me. Especially when a 7200 rpm drive won't come anywhere near the caps for either connection. The only reason to buy the thunderbolt version of that drive, is if you can't use USB3 for some reason.

    There's a lot of factors that go into making thunderbolt more expensive, but look at something like firewire. Apple tried to do the same thing with Firewire, and yeah, it was faster than usb and had more features, but you can't compete with usb unless you can open the product up to the mainstream at competitive prices otherwise most people won't use a new connector nor will most people pay more for something slightly faster that works with less devices.

    I don't really understand thunderbolt 3 using USB C as a connector though. Are they merging into one standard or something?
    --- Post Merged, Jan 28, 2016 ---
    Looking at the OWC Mercury elite pro dual (raid dual external hard drive) the usb3/firewire one at 2TB is $240. The thunderbolt on with the same specs, $385
     
  9. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #9
    I don't think you have near a full understanding of USB and TB. You seem to be cherry picking data and drawing conclusions from it that may make sense to you, but you are in fact way off base. Its like comparing apples to oranges and saying apples are more competitive because they cost a lot less.

    For storage, USB is kludge, saving money by hitting chips with a big enough hammer to make it fit and not bothering to verify it works. TB is competitive for what you get, full compatibility, no quirks, just works, storage performance. No question it costs more, pro stuff usually costs more.

    You want cheap bandaids, USB will serve you well... oh wait you don't like disconnecting drives, or those that don't wake up... is it worth $40 to you to not have to deal with those issues?

    No question some USB enclosures work better than others, but the better ones cost a lot more. No question you will spend more cash for TB storage, but if your time is money you may find that TB devices cost much less in the long run than either cheap or quality USB storage devices..

    I know thats not what you want to hear, so you will find some rationalization that suits your mindset. If you wanted cheap, why buy a Mac? :)
     
  10. carestudio macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2008
    #10
    The biggest problem that I was finding on the cheap USB enclosure is the power and the board design causing my drive constantly disconnected. Thunderbolt is good but you need to pay a little bit more for the peace of mind:)
     
  11. T Coma macrumors regular

    T Coma

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2015
    Location:
    People's Republic of Chicago
    #11
    I've had a Kanex on my 2011 mac since it came out and it has never had a dropout - connected to a usb hub / 7 usb3 peripherals. Fantastic product, I'd say, but then my opinion is only based on actual experience.

    But considering the errors in the OP, I'd say a bit more research is called for.
     
  12. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #12
    If your Thunderport port is working correctly, your connected Thunderbolt devices should be rock solid due to the strict design requirements and the required certification process.

    Yet some people report droputs and/or other issues.

    These are mostly due to one or more of the following:
    - software, firmware, OS, or drivers not up to date
    - faulty cables
    - loose port connectors

    Probably one of the least reliable devices has been Apple's own Thunderbolt Display's built in USB hub. Check out the threads here.

    I have several different Macs. I can reliably reproduce problems in some of them, that I trace have to driver and OS version issues.
    And one Mac's Thunderbolt is a problem because the connector is a loose fit. Connected devices have no issues on my other Macs.

    As I said previously, developing a Thunderbolt device requires a rather large capital investment in test equipment, licensing, and access to the tools required to program and test the interface components. Then there is the cost of building prototypes and submitting them to the certification labs.

    It is not trivial.

    On the USB side, anyone can build a device and sell it without a rigid testing or certification process.
     

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