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What is the blue wire in the C type charger?

USB-C chargers have become increasingly common in recent years as the USB-C standard has been adopted across phones, tablets, and laptops. One distinct feature of USB-C chargers compared to older USB chargers is the blue wire that can be seen in the cable next to the black power wire.

Purpose of the Blue Wire

The blue wire serves an important purpose in USB-C chargers. It is used for communication between the charger and the device being charged. This allows for intelligent charging capabilities like determining how much power the device needs and accelerating charge speeds.

Specifically, the blue wire is used for the USB-C Configuration Channel (CC) communication. This communication happens over the CC pin on USB-C connectors. The CC pin utilizes a pull-up resistor that enables the charger and device to determine which one will act as the host and which will act as the device. This negotiation ensures smooth, intelligent charging.

How the Blue Wire Works

The blue wire connects to the CC pin on both the charger and device ends of the USB-C cable. On the charger side, the CC pin is connected to a dedicated CC controller chip. This chip communicates over the CC pin by manipulating voltage levels.

When first connected, the CC pin on both the charger and device will be pulled up to 5V through the default pull-up resistors connected internally. The charger’s CC controller will then attempt to initiate communication by pulling the CC voltage down. If the device is also capable of acting as a host and charging other devices, it may also try pulling the CC voltage down.

Through this initial voltage dance on the CC pin, the charger and device determine which one will take the host role. The host (usually the charger) then uses the blue CC wire to communicate the capabilities of the charger to the device. This includes available power, supported USB Power Delivery profiles, and OTG support.

Key Specifications

Here are some key specifications for the blue CC wire in USB-C:

  • Connected to CC1 or CC2 pins (two CC pins available)
  • Typically 26 AWG gauge wire
  • Low speed communication up to 150-300 kHz
  • 1.5k ohm pull-up resistors connected internally
  • Voltage levels alternate between 0V and 5V for communication

Benefits of the Blue Wire

Having the dedicated CC wire and communication channel provides several benefits:

  • Enables cable orientation detection – no more upside down cables!
  • Automatic host/device role negotiation for charging
  • Enables advanced USB Power Delivery profiles up to 100W
  • Accelerates charging speeds by communicating device power needs
  • Allows for accessory identification and behavior configuration

Without the blue CC wire for communication, USB-C would lose much of its intelligence, speed, and convenience advantages compared to older USB connections.

Blue Wire vs. Other Colored Wires

Wire Color Purpose
Blue Configuration Channel communication
Black Ground / Vbus power
Green Secondary Configuration Channel (on some cables)
Red Positive power (5V or higher voltage)
White USB 2.0 data
Orange USB 3.1 data

As you can see, the blue wire serves a unique purpose compared to other common USB-C wire colors.

What if the Blue Wire is Missing?

If the blue CC wire is missing from a USB-C cable, functionality will be limited. Without the CC communication channel, the charger and device will not be able to negotiate power profiles or accelerate charging.

Charging may still work, but will be limited to simpler 5V power delivery without any fast charging capabilities. The cable will also have to be oriented correctly from the start, rather than detecting orientation on connection.

Some other consequences of a missing blue CC wire include:

  • No USB PD fast charging profiles
  • Fixed supplying/consuming roles instead of negotiation
  • No cable flip or accessory identification
  • Limited to USB 2.0 data speeds if used for data

So while cables may work without the blue wire, the experience and capabilities would be significantly compromised compared to a full USB-C implementation.

Working With the Blue Wire

For most users, there is no need to directly interact with the blue CC wire in a USB-C cable. It works automatically behind the scenes to enable intelligent charging and data transfer.

However, for electronics hobbyists or developers working with USB-C connections, understanding the blue CC wire is important. The CC communication channel is integral to many USB-C capabilities.

Some tips for working with the blue CC wire:

  • Use an oscilloscope to monitor CC voltage levels during negotiation
  • Try swapping CC resistors to reverse host/device roles
  • Test cables with a CC missing or shorted to see impact
  • Develop software to manipulate CC directly for novel uses
  • Consult USB-C specifications for expected CC behavior

Manipulating the blue CC wire signal opens up many possibilities beyond just charging. But care must be taken to avoid damaging devices by deviating from expected voltage levels.


The blue wire found in USB-C cables plays a crucial role in enabling the intelligent charging features and flexibility of the USB-C standard. The Configuration Channel communication transmitted over this wire allows the charger and device to negotiate power delivery, accelerate charging speed, and detect cable orientation among other capabilities.

While a USB-C connection may still work without the blue CC wire, the user experience would suffer greatly. For fully featured USB-C charging and data transfer, that thin little blue wire is essential!