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I am looking for a connector that is circular, can be turned when in contact and can carry 5V/GND/2 data lines. The headphone Jack is the perfect solution. It has 4 contacts (can be less), it is circular and it can be turned when inserted.

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This fits my needs perfectly. However my application is nothing to do with audio and I would have preferred something more custom so that people don't stick their headphones to my product. Are there other alternatives? I searched but couldn't find out.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ When you say "turned," do you mean the cable may twist a bit, or one side of the connector assembly may rotate completely? If you need something that can be rotated continuously or occasionally, you are looking for slip ring contacts. Adafruit carries some cheap ones. \$\endgroup\$ – lyndon Oct 25 '14 at 20:13
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There's only so many ways you can make a connector that rotates. The connections have to be on a single axis in order for the rotation to work, so that rules out everything that isn't, at the core of it, a jack of some form.

It's possible to get multi-pin barrel jacks (some laptops use them) where you have two concentric rings, and the inside and outside of each ring is a different connection. Expensive though, and hard to find.

So it's really your typical jack plug. Don't worry, they have been used for decades for non-headphone devices.

Telephones used to use a variation on them many years ago:

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But then of course, there's multiple sizes. Modern jacks come in 3 basic sizes: 1/4" (the large headphone / audio jacks), 3.5mm (your normal headphone jack) and the smaller 2.5mm ones. These latter are more often used for control and data as opposed to audio - they were often used with microphones to start and stop a tape recorder - and many modern devices use them as a computer interface connector for UART or USB communications.

So I'd say use a 4-pole 2.5mm jack and you shouldn't go far wrong.

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