Part of the Hardware glossary:

A gender changer is a cable adapter that converts a male connector (a connector with one or more pins or plugs) into a female connector (a connector with one or more holes or receptacles) of the same type, or a female connector to a male connector of the same type. A gender changer can be a self-contained, rigid piece of hardware, or it can consist of a short length of cable with male connectors on each end or female connectors on each end. Sometimes the term is used in reference to a device that has a male or female connector at each end, but the two connectors are of different types (for example, a female Universal Serial Bus ( USB ) connector on one end and a female serial port connector on the other).

Gender changers are used by engineers and technicians in the testing of circuits, and also in the building of specialized systems. They can also be of use to home and business computer users who have a variety of peripherals from different vendors, some old and others new. If a gender changer cannot be found for a particular application, one can be devised using a length of cable with the necessary number of conductors, with shielding (if required), and two male or female connectors of the correct type for the application. When wiring such a "homebrew" gender changer, it is important to be certain that all the cable conductors are correctly wired to their counterparts in each connector. This task can be difficult if the two connectors are not of the same type (for example, one USB connector and one serial port connector).

This was last updated in February 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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