Charging via USB C port?


#21

Since this original discussion two months ago, I’ve given the matter some more thought & research, and I think I have a workable plan to get magnetic connectors for the Librem’s power supplies in future revisions alongside USB 3.1 type C “power delivery”. However, besides needing to herd cats (negotiate with suppliers) and to be extremely careful about sourcing components (lots of crappy non-spec-compliant cables out there), from a purely technical standpoint this will require non-trivial motherboard redesign work, so we’ll see when we can make this happen. No promises/ETAs for now, as we’re focused on producing the current batch/inventory of laptops without creating more delays. But at least I’m reasonably certain it’s “possible” so it’s near the top of my wishlist, personally :slight_smile:


What can we do with the 13 v2's USB-C port?
#22

Thanks Jeff. That is really great to hear. Hopefully some of the options in my post were useful.

I’ve just created my forum account today and so I haven’t fully explored the forum yet. Maybe I am missing it, but do you have a section in the forum for hardware suggestions? Maybe a place were we (the end users) could post such suggestions, and possibly vote on the most popular of them for Purism to consider implementing in future production runs?

In lieu of that, here are a couple of my discoveries that you might find thought provoking:

  1. It is yet another example of a magnetic connector, but for the Android power cable: https://deals.makeuseof.com/sales/magcable-micro-usb-magnetic-cable If you do end up sticking with the Barrel connector, maybe you’d be able to source a “PC Option” that we could purchase . . . you could even market it to the rest of the pc world since they’re still being pumped out with basically Barrel only connectors - just a thought. It might even be a way to get more people looking at Purism’s other products.
    .
    Now, if I may expand on this, the physical connector needs to be as small and low profile as possible. This is where these guys might be able to help : “Polymagnet Correlated Magnetics” I first heard of them when listening to a “Security Now!” podcast with Steve Gibson. You can see their work here on this Youtube video (jump to the 2:09 mark in the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IANBoybVApQ
    .
    There is the potential to create a connector with a VERY low profile, and a VERY strong connection with a magnetic field that has an extraordinarily short reach (important for not affecting mechanical HDD’s - they will still be used for quite some time).

  2. Consideration for Battery Care options in the industry has been abysmal.
    .
    The closest thing I’ve seen that actually addresses this properly (IMO) came out from Lenovo.
    .
    It is software based, so I am not so sure if it is really going to be practical in this situation. In short, the software is programmable (by you the user). It allows the user to tell the system to start charging the battery at a certain percentage and stop charging at another. (ie start at 40% and stop at 55%). If the battery happens to be at 70%, then the system just uses the corded power and ignores the battery (unless of course the cord gets unplugged). Again, it’s BRILLIANT!
    .
    The majority of people don’t have a clue how a Lithium ion battery works, but many of us do.
    Fast charging is not good for them.
    Holding them at a 100% charge - constantly being plugged in - is not good for them, among other things.
    .
    Now on my current laptop, I keep my battery at around 50% charge and then just pop it off to help extend its life - it’s not ideal, but it works well enough. If I know I am going to need it I’ll charge it to 100% and run with it. The majority of the time however, I am plugged into the cord and I pop the battery off. That is not going to be a great option with the Librem form factor due to the screws.
    .
    A software solution like Lenovo’s would be the best as the system could just fail over to the battery in a brownout/blackout situation, but I also recognize that the effort here for your return is not likely to be worth it.
    .
    If I may make a low tech suggestion: Could we please have a “Guarded Switch” that will disconnect the battery from the system?
    It would allow those of us who ‘get it’ to be able to manage our battery care (like I’ve mentioned above) more accordingly.
    .
    A low cost “fail over” could possibly be a “Guarded Switch” which is spring loaded and electromagnetically held with the battery circuit open. If it was possible to have a short term (0.5 -1.0 second capacitive charge) that could power the system during the brownout/blackout and give the switch a chance to snap over and reconnect the battery . . . then we’ve got a solution that is almost as good as Lenovo’s - with no programming required.

As I said, I am quite thrilled to find you folks, and I am really looking forward to migrating to your hardware solution.

Hopefully these suggestions have been thought provoking.


#23

With the Librem 5 coming and also using USB-C for power delivery, display port, data and so on, you should definitely switch to USB-C with all your devices, and better sooner than later.

Imagine, you would only need one charger for all devices. You would not need any special docking stations, just use any common USB-C docking cable for power, display, ethernet, usb ports, … you name it. And they are way cheaper as well. Use USB-C power banks to charge multiple devices. Use your librem 11/13/15/xx to charge your phone and vice versa (you know, bidirectional charging). Endless possibilities!

It would be more efficient, way cheaper, more environment friendly (less resources), less development work, much more convenient for the user (one charger for all, one dock for all, less to carry,…). It’s sad that this hasn’t been considered from the beginning.


#24

Yes, this is planned.


#25

Imagine, you would only need one charger for all devices.

better not. I mean cable with usb-c is ok. and having chargers compatible, very much. but only one, for sure not. a phone needs less to charge than the notebook.

plus “cheaper” is no qualifier for purism products, if you compare prices we are paying for other qualities than the market aside would provide.

It’s sad that this hasn’t been considered from the beginning.

who said it was not?


#26

I’m not sure if this was posted before the Librem 13 V2 came out, but if that is the case, does the V2 support charging over USB-C?


#27

No. (Damn character limit!)


#28

How about to use directly Thunderbolt 3? Librem notebooks could be connected just via 1 wire to the external docking station with all the ports (USB for keyboard, mouse, DVD drive; monitor(s), ethernet, headphones, etc.) and it can also supply the notebook.


#29

The thing that confused me was the tiny lightning bolt next to the USB C port. i guess that’s an electrical symbol that does not mean ‘charge here’.
I have an ASUS USB C mini doc, which is connected to power, mouse and HDMI cable to screen. However, non of these three things worked with my librem laptop, even though they all worked fine with my work laptop. And even if I just plug in the mouse via the USB C docking station, it does not work. Why not?


#30

I suspect that lightning bolt is for Thunderbolt:


#31

So is this a thunderbolt port or a USB C port? It also has the USB C three pronged symbol, but it does not seem to work.


#32

Both - Thunderbolt 3 uses USB-C connectors, so you can also use USB-C devices


#33

I would phrase it like this:
It is USB-C port which only spupports the thinderbolt protococol but not the USB protocol.

USB-C is unlike USB 2.0 and USB 3.x just a connector specification.


#34

Sorry, but you’re wrong. The port is (obviously) primarily a USB port, which implies backwards compatibility for all USB devices. Additionally, it might support the thunderbolt protocol.
https://thunderbolttechnology.net/blog/thunderbolt-3-usb-c-does-it-all
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/usb-type-c-thunderbolt-3-one-cable-to-connect-them-all/

As it is stated there, “Thunderbolt 3 now being the super-set of USB-C”, it seems impossible to have a USB 3/Thunderbolt 3 port without USB-capabilites.

But as Thunderbolt doesn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere, I was wondering if it is just USB 3 with power delivery. But that seems less likely. However, if Purism sells a Thunderbolt port, they should advertise it :wink:


#35

Hmm. Now i‘m a little confused. I know that a Thunderbolt host port (e.g. at a computer) allways has usb 3.1 in it. But i thought we talk about a ASUS mini dock which is a client device, which as far as i know are totaly fine only speaking the thunderbolt protocol.

And i think your use of the usb-c tearm here is the misslednbg one as usb-c dose not imply any protocol perse i think.

There could be a usb-c port which only has the analoge audio alternate role as far as i understod it. Or just charging capabilities.
I also think this diferentiation is not new. A older device with a micro usb just for power supply would also only have a miniUSB port but no USB 2.0 connection

So i try to speak about usb 2/3.1/3.2 when i mena usb for data tranfere.

But i might understod it wrong and am glad to be corrected if so.


#36

I was able to take a look at my fiancée’s Librem 13. The USB-C port has a little lightning bolt symbol, but it does NOT look like the Thunderbolt symbol. So my initial suspicion was wrong, and I think @Caliga is correct - the lightning bolt probably just means power delivery. So treat it as a USB-C port, without Thunderbolt, and assume you can charge small devices from it (like a phone), but cannot charge the laptop from it.


#37

@ramnasko, you might be technically correct, that a USB-C port is not necessarily operating at USB 3 speeds, as the standard doesn’t seem to mandate it. But even if that is correct, I think it’s unlikely you’ll find a USB-C port that only supports Hi-Speed (USB 2, 0.48Gbit).
The question is rather, does it only support Superspeed (USB 3, 5Gbit), or SuperSpeed+ (USB 3.1, 10Gbit) or even the increased SuperSpeed+ (USB 3.2, 20Gbit).
Or… is it actually a Thunderbolt port, that, on top, provides 40Gbit and Display-Port tunneling… :wink:

@taylor-williamc, while I like being correct, I’m not even sure :wink:
This table seems to indicate that USB-C always must support 15W delivery (and optionally 100W?). Also, there does not seem to be an extra logo specification for power delivery.
OTOH, it is specified that the lightning indicates Thunderbolt, implying USB 3.1.

Maybe the hardware supports Thunderbolt, but the drivers currently only permit USB 3.1?


#38

@Caliga et all, the USB-C port on current model Librems is USB 3.0 (aka USB 3.1 gen 1 / 5Gbps), non-Thunderbolt, non-USB-C PD. Just a USB 3.0 type-A port with a different connector.


4k output from Librem13 HDMI port?
#39

Hmm I did hear about somebody who used a USB-C cable to charge their phone from a charger, and ended up charging the charger with their phone battery. So perhaps my laptop can power a USB device via the USB-C port, much as the USB 2 port could power an external hard drive. But the USB-C port, does not seem to support data. i.e. when I plug in an HDMI cable and a mouse via a USB-C adaptor it does nothing.
If this is the case, a USB-C port only for power would be fairly pointless.


#40

the USB-C port functions as a regular USB3 port - charges up to 3A(?) @ 5v, can power external SSD, etc. It does not support DisplayPort Alt Mode AFAIK. USB sticks, SSDs, mice/kb all work fine. I’ve tested here on 13v2/15v3/13v4/15v4. I can’t speak to the hub etc you used, but if it was a thunderbolt dock, then that’s why it didn’t work.