eXtensions - Tuesday 7 February 2017
Cassandra: Satechi Type-C Power Meter - Useful Device if Needed, Expensive Shipping
By Graham K. Rogers
Bit by bit, I have added a couple of USB-C external disks to those I already have with their USB to micro-USB connectors. I solved the problem of using adapters with those older disks, when I found the Belkin micro-USB to USB-C adapter. These made a considerable difference to the ways in which I could work. I ordered two of those from Amazon, plus a USB-C to Ethernet adapter because they were not available in the shops here.
After the new year, things looked up a little with a couple more disks arriving, although these are not cheap (they are not cheap in the USA either) and last weekend I finally saw the Belkin USB-C to micro-USB in the Apple reseller in Siam Discovery Center. These were priced at 990 baht. I paid $19.99 each (748 baht, including VAT of 7%), so they are dearer here, but shipping [588.65] and an import fees deposit [434.91] adds significantly to the charges, bringing the total cost via Amazon to 2,548.79 baht for the pair: 990 baht each sounds reasonable
As with that charger, not all USB-C accessories are created equal and it is useful if there is a way to check on power throughput. I ordered this Satechi device online from Amazon and it arrived this week at my office. It is a beautifully-finished, silver coloured unit, with a LED display. At one end is a connector to go into a USB-C port. At the other end is a USB-C port so that an external device can be connected.
I like it when devices work out of the box and this was perfectly simple. I connected the unit to a port in my MacBook Pro. Initially nothing happened. However, when I connected a flash drive the unit showed first the manufacturer's name, then a readout: 5.14v; 0.10A; 1 maH (Volts, Amps and milliamp hours - ). An arrow indicates the direction of the current: for example, out, to a non-powered device. When I tried this later in the day, the output reached 27maH; the figure rises if it is connected longer; and there are small fluctuations in voltage and Amperes. The Satechi site explains that Voltage range is 4V-30V. Current range is 50mA-9.99A. The readable total is 65W. The unit weight is 8.6 grams and its dimensions are 6.3 x 2 x 0.8 mm.
It is also important to remember that if such devices are connected via the Power Meter, they must still be unmounted (drop into the Trash) before the device is disconnected. However, even when dismounted, the Power meter showed that a device still draws current from the computer.
The Satechi Type-C Power Meter might be a useful device for a repair shop or for teaching purposes, but I doubt if many consumers would be interested in, or see the need for, such a device. I will keep this in the office as the department (Electrical Engineering) may well want to try something like this at some time in the future.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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