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The mighty Thunderbolt meets versatile USB Type C

Powerful I/O ports

As the interface between your computer and any peripheral, I/O ports are highly important. Here's why Thunderbolt is actually quite appropriately named. The Thunderbolt 3 basically accommodates the increasing quality of high resolution displays on large and smaller devices. The trend for devices to be portable, smaller and as light as possible means that connectivity often suffers as the ports and cables cannot keep up with the resolutions of up to 4K.

Using the new USB Type C connector, the Thunderbolt 3 considerably boosts the connective capabilities of smaller devices, resulting in superfast data transfer through the smallest of ports that maximize portability.

Thunderbolt, a bolt of lightning speed

An Intel product first launched in 2011 and intended to augment USB 3.0, Thunderbolt offered data transfer speeds up to 10 Gigabits per second. USB 3.0 managed speeds of only up to 5 Gigabits per second (or 640 Megabytes per second). Unlike USB, Thunderbolt had the ability to transfer multiple types of data: not only serial data to storage devices and peripherals, but also video data to displays. The added capability of daisy-chaining devices like hard drives to display monitors to your computer without any loss of performance makes the Thunderbolt one of the most powerful and versatile ports out there.

Apple featured a Thunderbolt Mini DisplayPort connector in their 2011 MacBook Pro, but the choice of other devices with a (production cost intensive) Thunderbolt port was very limited. Fast forward to 2016 and the situation has rapidly changed, with a wide range of Thunderbolt compatible peripherals on the market. Thunderbolt is no longer mainly the platform of choice by media professionals and Apple now offering a Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter.

New USB Type C, the end of a flipping era

The USB plug is that familiar plug that plugs in wrong every single time, even though there should be a 50 percent chance of a correct plugin… Look forward to no more flipping over and over again to insert the USB plug correctly into your device. The new USB Type C connector is small and reversible, meaning it plugs in correctly every time. It is set to replace previous USB types including Micro USB and Type A.

The USB Type C also packs a bigger punch in power delivery. While the current transmission rates for the USB 2.0 and 3.0 are 2.5W and 4.5W respectively, the new USB Type C allows for 7.5W and 15W transmissions. With power delivery, the new USB Type C may transmit up to 100W — enough to keep most power-hungry laptops going – and going.

One USB Type C to charge them all

The powerful USB Type C connector lets you speed charge portable devices like phones and tablets. The connector you use to charge your laptop can now also be used to charge any USB Type C port device. It is theoretically even possible to charge your phone by plugging it into your tablet, or use a friend’s phone to jumpstart your own if your phone battery is flat. 

The best of both worlds: Thunderbolt & USB Type C

Good news: Thunderbolt 3 now uses the new USB Type C connector. No longer limited by the Mini DisplayPort adapter, the new USB Type C port makes Thunderbolt’s technology available to a much wider range of devices than merely Apple’s. Look for Thunderbolt ports with amazing bandwidth and daisy-chaining opportunities in Ultrabooks and notebooks and an increasing number of Thunderbolt-capable peripheral devices. This is great news for the USB Type C connector, too. On its own, the USB Type C is just another USB cable which is reversible and capable of delivering more power.

Note: not all USB Type C ports support Thunderbolt 3 as it runs on Intel processors. Most mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and other USB Type C peripherals may have the USB Type C ports, but without Intel chipset inside, they will not work without Thunderbolt controllers. So if you plug a USB Type C device into a Thunderbolt 3 port, it will work but won’t support Thunderbolt’s powerful features. Similarly, a Thunderbolt 3 peripheral plugged into a regular USB Type C port will work but won’t support Thunderbolt features. 

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Uses of Thunderbolt

1. With the integrated DisplayPort, you need only a single cable to drive two (daisy-chained) 4K displays at 60Hz (4K is twice as big as 1080p) to your computer.

2. Mighty fast data transfer speeds: whether you use Thunderbolt to edit high-resolution 4K videos in one or even two hard drives or for standard storage purposes, Thunderbolt achieves superfast transfer speeds. Working with 4K applications, the speed can be785 Megabytes per second and 5 Gigabytes per second for standard applications, 8 times faster than USB 3.0 and 4 times faster than USB 3.1. The limitation is the number of drives in the enclosure and the combined read and write speeds of those drives, not the cable itself.

3. Never run out of ports or connectivity. Daisy-chain peripherals to the Thunderbolt port to connect – or simply charge.

4. The Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type C connector is a perfect match of power and versatility. Connecting multiple displays, achieving enormous transfer speeds and storage capabilities, and an external graphics card while charging your power hungry laptop - all through a single reversible cable. [12/2016]

Join the RackStuds revolution: heavy-duty no tools, no screws cage nuts


RackStuds is the easy, tool-less, strong (tested up to 37kg) and safe alternative to the traditional cage nut to install IT, PRO A/V, security and telecommunications equipment in 19” racks. 

Rave reviews

“WOW... Why didn't anyone think of this sooner? It's brilliant! A great design saving countless fingers from cage nut injuries and countless heads from someone dropping a switch on themselves while they try and install it at the top of a rack.” - Landon Orr, Network Operations Engineer - Qualtrics

“Much faster to install than traditional cage nuts, even with a cage nut tool. Can be installed tool-less using thumb caps. Threadless tops allows for easy equipment mounting. Equipment has a place to rest while being screwed in.” - Patrick Kennedy, Serve the home

"‘Major problem with traditional cage nuts is having to add rack equipment into an open slot with equipment fastened on either side. With cage nuts there’s hardly room to reach in and it gets fiddly. Not with RackStuds: just clip on and slide equipment in and fasten." - Chris Adams

"RackStuds are heftier than they look. You support the switch with one hand and thumb-tighten RackStud nut with other. With just 1 screw fastened, it supports this entire fairly heavy switch, supports it just fine. (tries moving it) It’s not moving, it’s the camera moving, but not the switch" - Chris Adams

Quick & easy: RackStuds save 20% on rack installation time

Made of innovative, high performance metal replacement polymers, the RackStuds are tested to a heavy-duty load capacity of up to 37 kg. There is no need for tools, not even a screwdriver. Rack mounting is extremely easy, front-access only, which will save you 20% in installation time – and keep your hands and head safe. Its front access feature makes RackStuds the ideal easy solution to slot in new equipment into an already fitted out rack system.

Red & blue RackStuds to fit almost any rack

There is a choice of red and blue RackStuds, depending on the thickness of the rails and hole size of your rack mounting system. 
Red V2.2   9.3-9.89 mm | ≤ 2.2 mm 14 gauge
Blue V2.7  9.2-9.6 mm   | 2.2-2.7mm 12 gauge

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The Humble Cable Tie & The Hamburger Hand

In the late 50s, Maurus C. Logan, VP of Research & Development at US electrical company Thomas & Betts, toured a Boeing aircraft manufacturing facility, where he watched the workers fit a wiring harness.

Back then, aircraft wiring consisted of thousands of meters of wire organized on 150 meter long plywood and held in place with knotted, waxcoated, braided nylon cord. Each waxed knotted string had to be pulled tight by wrapping it around the finger. The string cut the worker’s fingers so badly that it turned their hands into a big, bloody, callused mess, a condition known as ‘hamburger hands’, because of their resemblance to hamburger meat.

After testing with various tools and materials, Maurus C. Logan developed the 'Ty-Rap' cable tie in 1958 to humanely end one of the most cumbersome, detailed and critical tasks in the aircraft’s manufacturing process. [10/2016]

 ill editorial rapstrap 400x200Rapstrap the $61 million ‘rubbish’ invention

'It's a simple, cost- and waste effective idea, but the point is no one else had come up with it.'

Hailed as the next generation cable tie, the Rapstrap is a reusable polyurethane band that ties up cables, bin bags, plants and has an endless array of other commercial and domestic uses.

Andrew Harsley was 15 when he put out the rubbish and the idea of the Rapstrap came up. He spent 20 years perfecting the Rapstrap, took the reinvented tiny plastic strap to the 2008 UK invention marketing game show Dragon’s Den and won to close a $61 million deal, making Harsley’s invention the show’s biggest success story.

Discontented over the original 1958 Tie-Wrap design by Maurus C Logan of US electrical company Thomas & Betts, Harsley reinvented the Rapstrap to do the same job, but four times more cost- and wastage effective. UK consumers use as many nylon cable ties as carrier bags with a substantial amount of plastic going to landfill each year. Australia uses almost 7 billion plastic bags each year, 170 per person per year, with 3% being recycled.1

Rapstrap is the efficient alternative. Cutting the end off, you can use it again and again. Made from elasticated polyurethane, a single 300mm Rapstrap typically replaces up to 5 standard ties, greatly reducing waste and lowering costs. Rapstrap is soft, flexible and extremely versatile. It is flexible enough to be used on delicate installations.

1 The use of single plastic bags in the UK dropped over 85% since the introduction of a 5p charge in October 2015. 7 Billion plastic bags were handed out in the first 6 months of 2015, to 500 million in the same time in 2016. Source the Guardian and Australian Ethical 

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Use Rapstrap over and over again

1. Reusable: the Rapstrap gets used up from the back, whilst the tongue-front end is kept and used again and again. As a result, a single Rapstrap can perform several ties, and just gets a little shorter with each use. This dramatically reduces waste and saves money.

2. Rapstrap comes in convenient tear-off sheets. To use, simply tear down a row of Rapstraps from the tongue end and start tying. The Rapstrap's cellular tie strip can loop and weave into a multitude of different configurations.

3. Rapstrap derives its superior performance from a combination of the special shape of the cells, and the strong and flexible qualities of the polyurethane from which the Rapstraps are made. This patented design is a clever piece of engineering which allows the cells to deform during use, and this in turn allows one portion of the tie strip to pass through another.

4. The cells do this by folding along their spine, which makes them narrower and able to pass through one another. As each cell in turn gets pulled through, it automatically changes shape and glides through to form a loop in the Rapstrap. However, when pulled backwards, this folding process occurs in the opposite direction, and this makes the cell's horns stick out. In this configuration they snare the outer cell and so lock the tie in place. This prevents the tie from coming undone. [11/2016]