A friend of mine, Ben, from way back in elementary school, has been a frequent consult on various projects over the years. His background as an engineer and now a patent attorney make him handy to bounce ideas around with. I told him about the docking station project and even though he doesn't own a single bit of Apple hardware, he was interested in the project right away. We decided to totally ditch the old idea of incorporating the connections into the dock and instead use the customers' existing connections in the dock. Basically there's a row of voids the same size as the cable heads that the connections are inserted into and locked in place. There are a bunch of different ways of securing the connections in place, but the most attractive option so far is to use set screws.
All of the Apple connections are commonly sized and have extremely tight tolerances, so they will fit in the dock without too much hassle. The bigger issue lies with the USB, FireWire, Audio and Ethernet cables since they come in a variety of sizes. The dock will require a very precise fit to keep the connections from binding or damaging the computer. Fortunately, we came up with a straightforward solution pretty quickly. By including standard sized USB, FireWire, Audio and Ethernet cables, we can make sure there is a consistent fit each time. The other nice thing is that the customer can select only the connections they need. That will make docking and undocking the computer much easier for a lot of people.
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