5 Dollar USB Gadgets for Everyone

In my work trying to create devices that can install OSes from scratch on computers and flash phones and embedded IoT devices, I’m always looking for things that can support being both a usb host and a usb gadget.

Think about your phone, how it works to connect a micro-B to charge and connect to it as a gadget to your computer, then when you connect a micro-A cable you plug mice, keyboard, and thumb drives into your phone.

As a usb host, you can plug a mouse, keyboard, and pretty much anything you’d plug into your computer to it. Allowing you to do things like:

  • Format a thumb drive or microSD card
  • bootstrap embedded devices like intel edison
  • flash a phone

As a usb gadget, you can plug the device into a computer and have it show up as a usb keyboard, disk, network, and other interesting things.

  • show up as a network adapter
  • provide a web / programming interface to the gadget without needing internet
  • send some keystrokes a computer
  • present a dynamic USB cdrom / dvd drive
  • re-install a computer from scratch combining keyboard and drive support
  • install OSes to a drive hosted on the device and snapshot them

I’m looking to see if we can’t get the new $5 RPi zero to function as both.