FAQ

 
Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I order a cable? Why is it out of stock? When will it be back in stock? Why is “ADD TO WISHLIST” my only purchasing option?

We are currently only offering cables for sale in readymade batches. We are no longer accepting orders for one-off custom cables. We will release new readymade batches for sale on a weekly-ish basis, and they will be available for immediate shipment (generally a day or two). Once the inventory from any given batch has been sold through, it will be marked as "Out of Stock." You can get updates on upcoming batches in our Discord server, through our email newsletter, or via our Instagram page.

Please keep in mind that other products like DIY kits, DIY parts, deskmats, and other items are always available for purchase.


How long can a USB cable be?

We recommend keeping the total length of your cable under 16 feet. Anything longer than that, and the cable falls out of USB spec and risks losing its transmission power, which could cause it to under-perform or fail.

If you are using your USB cable to connect a keyboard that draws a larger amount of power (one with a lot of LEDs or RGB functionaity for example), the maximum operative length may be significantly shorter than 16 feet. In most cases, 10 feet or less is preferable.

Based on testing we've done with our cables, there are some high-powered keyboards that require even shorter cables—like HHKBs (8 feet) and Input Club’s K-Type or Massdrop’s CTRL (7 feet).


What connectors do I need?

That depends on what you are plugging your cable into. Below are some general rules of thumb, and images of some of the most common types of connectors we offer.

 

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USB Type-A

USB Type-A connectors typically plug into the back or front panels of your computer (or outlet adapter).

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Mini-USB

Mini-USB is a popular connector type that plugs into most mechanical keyboards, digital cameras, external hard drives, and USB hubs.

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Micro-USB

Micro-USB is a popular connector type that plugs into small devices like cellphones, tablets, and other portable devices.

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USB Type-B

USB Type-B connectors are square shaped, and are found on printers, scanners, and other peripheral devices.

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USB Type-C

USB Type-C connectors are reversible connectors that are popular on many newer smart phones and computers.


What do you make the cables out of?

Cable

The cable we use is a USB 2.0 spec 28AWG, four-core dual-shielded cable that has tinned copper conductors and a PVC jacket.

Cord

The cord we use is USA-made Type III nylon (or nylon/polyester) paracord.

Double-sleeving

The double-sleeving materials we offer are Techflex Flexo PET and MDPC-X sleeving.


What is double-sleeving?

Double-sleeving is a second layer of sleeving that covers the cord and adds an extra layer of durability, rigidity, and style.

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What is the difference between Techflex and MDPC-X?

Both Techflex and MDPC-X are made out of the same type of material (woven plastic threads). The main difference is in the density of the weave. Techflex is a looser weave and will reveal more of the cord color underneath. MDPC-X is a tighter weave, and will cover 100% (more or less) of the cord underneath.

Please note: Since MDPC-X will cover up the cord underneath it, we recommend selecting a matching color for your cord. If you need any advice on what cord color matches a specific MDPC-X color best, feel free to contact us and we can advise.

MDPC-X and Techflex comparison

Top: Bare cord  |  Middle: Cord with Techflex  |  Bottom: Cord with MDPC-X

Can I purchase MDPC-X sleeving by itself?

Unfortunately, we cannot sell MDPC-X sleeving a la carte. MDPC-X is a German company that has exclusive re-seller partnerships with specific vendors in individual countries, and unfortunately we are not the exclusive partner for USA. We are allowed to sell it as part of a product or kit, but not on its own.


What’s up with coils?

Coils are a fun way to add a little extra style to your cable. While our coils have good memory and are made with care, they are primarily an aesthetic feature. Prolonged stretching or aggressive handling may weaken the coils and loosen their uniform appearance over time.

Unless specified otherwise, our coiled cables will have about 4" of straight cable on the device end (typically a Mini-USB, Micro-USB, or USB-C connector), then the coiled section, and then the remainder of the cable length on the host (USB-A) end.

Ordering note: When ordering cables with coils, the length of the coils will be built in to the overall length of the cable. For example, if you order a 4-foot cable with 6 inches of coils, the cable will not be 4’6” in overall length. It will be 4 feet long and include 6 inches of coils.

 

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Will you sleeve or coil the DIY Kits for me?

Sorry, but no. We will not pre-sleeve or pre-coil any of the DIY Kits. Don't be afraid to give it a shot yourself! It's not terribly difficult, and if you get stuck there are a lot of people in our Discord server who can give you tips (including us).


What is the difference between a 4-pin and a 5-pin detachable connector?

The only real difference is the additional pin. Otherwise, the 4-pin and 5-pin detachable connectors are the same shape, size, and fit. We offer the 5-pin connectors by default, but we stock 4-pin connectors as well for legacy users who have pre-existing 4-pin connectors on their cables and want new cable pieces to match.


How do you wire your GX16/Aviator detachable connectors?

We attach the wires of our detachable connectors as described and shown in the image below, and recommend our DIY friends do the same. The pins of the detachable connectors are physically numbered, and correlate to the way the pins are assigned to USB connectors according to the USB spec:

1: VBUS (Red)
2: D- (White)
3: D+ (Green)
4: Ground (Black)

Please be advised that not all custom cable makers wire their detachable connectors the same. Mixing and matching detachable cable halves from different vendors without confirming they are compatible may result in damage to your PCB/device.

Detachable Wiring Diagrams


Will my cable work when it arrives?

Of course, yes! We double-check every cable before we ship it to make sure it is working properly. If for any reason you receive a cable that does not work out of the box, let us know right away and we will send you one that does.


Do you ship internationally?

Please note that right now we are not shipping internationally via USPS (except Canada) due to unreasonably long delays being caused by the global pandemic. We are offering international shipping through UPS or DHL (recommended).

You bet! We’ll ship anywhere. When placing an order, you should be presented with the appropriate shipping options for your country. If you’d like to get a custom shipping quote or have shipping questions, contact us and we’ll get you the information you need. Be aware, international orders may incur additional import fees not covered by your quoted shipping rate.


Why doesn't the 10 feet of paracord/Techflex/MDPC-X I ordered cover the 10 feet of cable I ordered?

The cord (or Techflex/MDPC-X) sleeving won't cover the cable at a 1:1 ratio. The sleeving's length will shorten a bit as it is stretched over the cable. We recommend a 1.15:1 sleeving-to-cable ratio to make sure you have enough sleeving to cover your cable. (So to cover a 10-foot length of cable, you'd need closer to 12 feet of sleeving length.) If you are purchasing a DIY kit, we do this math for you and add the appropriate amount of sleeving length. If you are purchasing paracord or sleeving a la carte, we will send the lengths as ordered.


Why doesn't the heatshrink I received fit over the Type-A connector?

We include 3/8" diameter heatshrink in our kits by default. You will need to stretch out the 3/8" heatshrink a bit (we use a needlenose pliers) to get it to fit over the Type-A connector shell in most cases. It should fit over all of the other USB connectors without requiring any stretching. 1/2" heatshrink is also available a la carte, or by request in a kit.


Can you declare a lower value on my package?

Unfortunately, no. For international orders, customs laws mandate that we declare the actual value of goods sold.


How does the rewards system work?

Everyone with an account is eligible to collect rewards to use on future Zap orders. The rewards are only managed through the rewards dashboard, which can be accessed through the pop-up button that appears at the lower-left corner of the page. Points are earned based on the dollar amount spent on each order, as well as by completing certain tasks like signing up, leaving product reviews, and following us on Instagram.

Reviews will earn points, regardless of the content of the review (good, bad, or otherwise). We do moderate our reviews, but we post all reviews submitted except in cases where 1) there is profanity or spam content, 2) the review is not attached to an order, or 3) there are multiple reviews for one order. In the event that multiple reviews for products are submitted from the same order, the first review will be posted and the rest will be ignored. Reviews points are only awarded once per order.


What is your refund/return policy?

We offer returns to any Zap customer who isn’t completely satisfied with any cable we make. You ordered from us, and that means a lot. If you’re not totally satisfied with your cable, please let us know. We’ll do everything we can to address the problem and get you a cable you are totally satisfied with. Unfortunately, we do not accept returns or offer refunds on DIY Kits or a la carte DIY items.

If something was wrong with your order, we’ll be happy to help you out. Use the form on our Contact page or shoot an email to hello@zapcables.com with your order number and the nature of your dissatisfaction, and we will address your request posthaste!