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Is there an elegant way to allow a cable to swivel? By swivel, I mean to allow infinite rotation (not limited to a few turns, etc) between the two connectors along the axis of the cable. Say, for example, a USB cable with power, ground, and 2 data lines. I can imagine this being done mechanically, with some sort of brushes, but this seems prone to wear and somewhat bulky. Optical or magnetic methods seem like they might be feasible also - do such devices exist in an inexpensive form? I suppose a wireless data link could avoid the problem entirely, but causes possibly unnecessary EMI and is potentially less reliable.

EDIT: Also, what are these devices even called? I know I've seen at least the mechanical variant before, but can't seem to find them anymore among all the Google noise.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it would be difficult to convey power efficiently using an optical link. \$\endgroup\$ – mkeith Jul 26 '15 at 22:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Slip rings can be quite noisy which is not ideal for sensitive and/or high speed signals such as USB. \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Carpenter Jul 27 '15 at 1:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a better alternative for high speed signals? \$\endgroup\$ – zplizzi Jul 27 '15 at 22:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have seen slip ring provisioned RJ-11 connectors for telephone hand pieces but fear that they are consumables. A reliable slip ring system will be bigger and cost more. \$\endgroup\$ – KalleMP Jan 17 '18 at 18:27
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Yes there is. The mechanical term is SLIP-RING and they come in many sizes. Cheapest one that I know costs around $15 and they can reach thousands of dollars. just search 'slipring' on google (or ebay)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It turns out that there is a USB slip ring thing. - google.com/search?q=usb+slipring&tbm=isch \$\endgroup\$ – KalleMP Jan 17 '18 at 18:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although there is a usb connector on both sides, dont count on the swivel to do 480Mbits/sec. And dont even think about USB3 \$\endgroup\$ – Gilad Jan 17 '18 at 19:20

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