Better Expansion Cards

So I was looking through images of the Framework laptop, and I noticed that there seemed to be an inordinate amount of unused space on the expansion cards where there was no port. I think that it could be excellent if we were able to get two or even three ports on one card, because of course more ports=better laptop. What do the rest of you think? And [redacted] do I wish I needed a new laptop.

Edited because I’m an idiot.

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In some of the expansion card threads there has been a lot of thought about dual-USBC cards. The ports physically fit, but the hardware and controllers to run both at full specs seem to be too big for an expansion card. I’ve been wondering if maybe USBC and USBA would fit in an expansion card, since the USBA would need a less complicated controller since it only does data and lower power signalling compared to USB4 on the type-c.

@Nich_Trimble would it work then to use USB 3.2, 3.1, or 3.0 then? I think that even if it doesn’t fix the problem, dual port cards could still work with USB and HDMI, as it doesn’t carry any power. So could a headphone jack, since the laptop doesn’t seem to have one integrated. Even if two USB ports can’t fit on the same expansion card, I think that having a USB port and something low powered (like a headphone jack, HDMI, microSD reader, or Ethernet) could be good.

@Skywayz_Zarthic The specs confirm it does have a 3.5mm combo headphone jack.

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Do you think a dedicated mic and then another plug for headphones would be good?

@Josh_Cook perhaps the proposed high-end audio module might have both. Personally I’d wish for an audio module that has at least 1/4" in, but we might need to wait until the marketplace is up and running and musicians start getting in on the Framework community.
~ Jamie

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@The_Cyber_System 2 audio jacks (3.5mm) does not fit on the PCB, due to width and not even accounting for height.

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I agree with this completely. I am thinking about the following ‘I/O’ on my laptop

  • USB-C
  • USB-A
  • Ethernet
  • High End audio output (USB DAC/Headphone amp.)
  • Microsd

None of these are expendable, and I would still prefer to have two USB-A ports like most laptops have.

I am thinking that there could be easily made Miscrosd + USB A combo card, and ethernet + USB-A combo card. Having both of these available would be ideal, and solve all of my issues. (USB-C + USB-a combo card would also work in lieu of one of these.)

(And, To be honest, I think they made the expansion cards too big. They probably should’ve been made half size of what they are, and some could be ‘double wide’ in order to incorporate cards that needed more room.)

@nullstring Ethernet is a pain as it has to be the folded up style, here is a photo that shows the ethernet and then the size of the PCB, that cannot be modified without a chunk of material jutting out. Folded up jacks do not decrease width or depth only height.

MicroSD and USB-A is doable, with USB-C and USB-A they require all their features including Display which means a lot of wiring and in a confined space it is quite hard to get nothing to intersect.

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Hi-end audio is the most exciting expansion for my uses. A DAC and headphone amplifier in one card. It would be perfect. I will be working on a design for this using dual TI6120 amp chips. Early days yet though…

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Would it be possible to fit two PCBs in one expansion card slot to make a dual USB-C card feasible?

That has been discussed elsewhere and apparently there is no room with current PCBs but it is being considered.

If you search you will find quite a bit about it :slight_smile:
https://community.frame.work/search?q=dual%20USB%20C

Mentioning since it hasn’t been mentioned yet.

You could fit two USB A sockets on one expansion card. You place them vertically. Use the rear bays. You’ve got another like 2mm of clearance to the table. Looks to be just enough space to make a dual USB A possible.

Really ?? Not on my expansion cards!

@amoun

Really ?? Not on my expansion cards!

I think it might be possible if the card wasn’t tapered, but I don’t know enough about the design to say anything about that with confidence.

I’m saying the rear bays technically have an extra mm or 2 of clearance to the table, compared to the front bays. You can use that space and maybe fit 2 USB A connectors side by side then. But only if a few extra mm are available by building the bays thicker for the rear. And if you don’t mind using the bottom of the bays for the rear ‘feet’ of the laptop, there should be plenty of space to build a thicker set of rear, multiple port adapters. I mean, the extra thickness might even be able to fit the USB A ports stacked in the traditional vertical format… (Looking at a Raspberry Pi USB setup while typing this)

I get the idea but I’m sure it won’t work.

The Raspberry pi dual USB A is 15mm from top to bottom. It can’t really be any thinner as the two plugs to be inserted need room above and below the actual ports and the case is only 2 x 0.5mm.

The whole USB A dual requires a case, of some plastic, so another 2mm minimum. So now 17mm

Room below the bottom plug of another 2mm, so 19mm overall. The top plug casing can rise up to the level of the ‘input cover’ so none there.
The max current height from desk to top of expansion card is about 9mm so it would have to be doubled in height.

And I don’t think it would be a practicle idea to use them as feet and have weight on them. Plus there would always need to be two expansion cards of the same height.

All seems rather pointless as USBAs are going out of fashion so why make a new rather unwanted expansion card with all the extra cost too.

Currently there id official talk of trying to get two USBC ports side by side anf that could be usefull.

Do you currently have a framework laptop ???

One thing that has amazed (and slightly terrified me) about joining the Framework community is how few people have any understanding of design, structural requirements, electronic regs, heat, rigidity, size, the concept of dimensions etc. etc.

What you think might be nice in your head does not relate to what will work in reality.

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Yes, I do.

I came to my conclusions by taking a ripped off USB cluster from a busted Pi and holding it up. I didn’t do literal measurements.

Very valid point about weight though.

Extremely valid point about the ports going away.

I’ve also got ideas about using the rear bays in tandem for a laptop cooler and more ports plus laptop stand…

But weight… You think that’s asking too much for the little bays? I honestly hadn’t really thought about that specifically…

It will depend upon how much weight is transferred to the actual chassis and not the USBC port. It sounds a bit iffy having any weight that would transfer to the inner port.