SparkFun Forums 

Where electronics enthusiasts find answers.

General suggestions or questions about the SparkFun Electronics website
By megaman
Is it legal to use the ipod female socket in my own design? I plan to make kits to sell and wanted to know before I got started. I could make the pinout compatible or not if it makes a difference. Ive seen sockets for nintendo ds cartridge and wanted to use it in a project (not ds compatible of course) as expansion port. Any comments or info would be helpful.
By megaman
Im not making a ipod/iphone product. Im using the female connector as an expansion port on my device. Then I can buy male connectors and make things that work with my device. Same thing with the nintendo ds cartridge socket. Neither device will be compatible with the original devices the connectors came from.
By Applekid
I don't think the legal issue is compatibility, the legal issue is that the dimensions and mechanisms are patented. The fact that you'll be using the form factor for plugs not compatible with the original devices will guarantee they won't approve a license for you to use them.

Why not use some more open standards, like D-Sub, TRS, or DIN ports? Probably could get the physical connectors cheaper, too, since they're so common.
User avatar
By SFE-Pearce
I agree with Apple Kid, especially if you plan to sell the kits, apple would not be pleased with that.
By busonerd
I'd suggest staying away from the connectors just for reasons of sourcing. The availability of a part like that is nowhere near as solid as that of a standard, or nonstandard part from a major vendor. It'd suck to build up a system around that connector format, then have it become a non-stocking item as supply dries up.

--David Carne
By megaman
The reason I wanted to use ipod connectors is the slim form factor. The device I am making is around 10mm thick and the connector needs to be around 4mm to fit on one side of the board. The male ipod connectors also have enclosures, small ones for just cables and larger ones that fit circuit boards. The reason I wanted to use the nintendo ds socket and cart format was for expansion boards. The ds cart has room for a few ic chips and the nice push-push card eject. I could make io cards, wireless cards or other device usefull for new projects and be able to swap them out when needed. It would all fit nicely without boards protruding. I know stock would eventually dry up but not anytime soon and I'm only planning to use it for this generation of devices.

When it comes to the ds cart I plan to modify the cart design to make it incompatible with the ds(square stop at the top). Would that make it any better?

Does anyone know of any ipod/zune style connectors available through digikey, mouser etc. Any suggestions on a nds socket replacement?
User avatar
By sparky
If I remember correctly, the 'iPod connector' was not really iPod at all, it was JST or something.

Apple needed a connector for this new music player thing, checked the market and found a high density connector on the market, got good pricing, and went crazy. They can't get mad at you for using a 3rd party part, right?

Carne does have a point tho. Because it's popular, iPod connectors have significantly dropped in price, but are often hard to get a good source for.

By busonerd
If Nate says its a standard part; then that alleviates one worry - at least you'll have a vendor to fall back on if you go into large-scale production. [And I'm not saying that SFE isn't major - but they don't sell parts by the reel, and most assembly houses would pitch a fit if you gave them a bag of connectors that size since they could only be hand placed].

That said, I thought of another reason _not_ to use it - you'll have to make sure your design doesn't burn out when plugged into an iPod usb/firewire cable / dock, because someone is definitely going to do that at some point.

--David Carne
By megaman
I'm still considering using the ds socket but I have found a replacement connector for the ipod connector. Thanks for your responses.