Surface Dock connector

Any thoughts on a card allowing for connecting a magnetic Surface Dock? I have no clue how open the proprietary connector is, but my company has about 60 of them that I am seriously contemplating upgrading to Frameworks.

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The challenge I see with this is that anybody who has a Surface Dock is likely moving to a Surface, and the ones who don’t would be buying a very niche product which then must be fully supported by whomever is creating the connector.

It’s a lot to ask. But I love the idea and I would be in the market for this.

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Well my use case is the opposite. Have a ton of Microsoft Surfaces already and have found that and screen replacements, and battery replacements are painful, and expensive. Looking to move from Surfaces (with Docks) to Frameworks (with Docks). Will be an easier sale if we could re-use the Docks.

Sometimes manufacturers just move some pins around on a standard connector and use their own housing. This is not one of those cases. USBC uses 24pins, the surface dock uses 40. I’m a developer not a computer engineer, but it looks to me like this would be anything but simple. You’d have to integrate all the circuitry to adapt from the 40pin surface connector to usbc in that tiny expansion card, which seems impossible to me. It wouldn’t just be hooking up wires either, it seems like the surface dock has dedicated lines for things like DP, while the almost TB4 ports on the frame work use multi purpose data lines. This adapter board would need extensive logic on it most likely.

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@Patric_Bernardo No luck for product that currently exists. Depending on which model dock, one could remove the cable and attach a custom PCB that ties DP, power, and USB 3 together (PD, DP alt mode, god knows how many more ICs), which would be terminate with a USB Type-C plug. Pretty much redesigning a USB hub around the surface cable pinout. Sounds like a fun design exercise but it doesn’t seem worth it for 60, or even at 600 units (especially if you care for any kind of validation & testing).

Or spend the $100 to just get new dock/hub units.

I mean the Surface Connect port certainly does more than USB - it’s also an extension of Display Port(s), and separately, chargers. It’s reversible. What it isn’t is Thunderbolt or USBC - it’s USB3 (not 3.1) at its fastest. A few of the pins aren’t even connected, so we’re down to thirty pins.

The questions become:

  • How much do we know about the pinouts
  • How much of that can we feed into the dock from the Framework?

Which translates to:

  • How much experimenting is worth doing to perfect such a connector?
  • What kind of investment is needed to produce such a product?

I absolutely want this to be viable, but as I consider it, I can totally understand why it might not be. The Surface Dock, as it stands today, retails for about $250, isn’t Thunderbolt, uses its own power source, and would always be a hack at best. A new, basic but functional Startech USBC dock (operating at USBC speeds) and which uses the same USBC power brick as the Framework comes to about $100.

The final nail is the fact that MS themselves are beginning to offer TBolt Surface products. The point is therefore moot; the dock will live and die in the past (even as I recognize the attachment I have for it). Would I buy it as a matter of enthusiasm? Sure. But even I can see that it’s a niche product.

(And I’d rather have that Fn key indicator!)

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