In one of the earlier SMD workshops I managed to temporarily kill my new macbook pro when I plugged in a prototype. I revived it by removing the battery all the time chanting to myself, must get a usb isolator, must get a usb isolator, must get a usb isolator…..
This is a nice simple soldering project that does exactly that, isolates your USB port from connected devices. There are two input usb connectors, one carries data and power from the computer the other supplies power to the output. The output comes from a 3rd USB A connector. There is no power/ground/data connection between the computer and connected devices other than through the isolator chip. This board has two grounds, two power supplies etc.
The isolator chip is an ADUM3160, it is most of the cost of this workshop – “The ADuM3160 is a USB port isolator, based on Analog Devices, Inc., iCoupler® technology. Combining high speed CMOS and monolithic air core transformer technology, this isolation component provides outstanding performance characteristics and is easily integrated with low and full speed USB-compatible peripheral devices.”
I did manage to get some samples from http://www.analog.com/en/interface-isolation/digital-isolators/adum3160/products/product.html. There are two ticket types, one for those who can get free samples and one for those who can not. I suggest you find a friend and order two sample at a time. Please wait until you have the sample confirmed or denied before buying a ticket, otherwise you will create a lot of work for me in refunds etc.
We’ll be getting the ADUM3160 from Farnell/Element14, you can see more details on the isolator at their product page.