Crap USB hubs thread (w/pics)

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Crap USB hubs thread (w/pics)

Postby SK2013 » February 15th, 2013, 6:32 am

Hi all,

as I was saying yesterday in my not-so-sexy "Erasing logos/texts printed on plastic encasings" thread I have been working on a hardware & software project for the last few months, which will be opensourced as soon as deemed finished, and probably previewed here first. This project is related to USB stuff, and as such, required me to look for the smallest USB 2.0 hub model I could find. I needed, once gutted, the connector-less PCB to have the smallest dimensions possible.

So I turned to eBay, obviously, and started searching for the smallest 2 or 4 (2 is all I really need) ports USB 2.0 hubs I could I find. First I got a 2 ports model from some seller, "USB square Mirror Hub" 99% similar to the one below. Gutted it (sorry, no pr0n pics for this one :lol: ) and it had a proper chip, a capacitor, quartz & other smc's. Tested it and confirmed USB 2.0 speeds. Problem was that PCB was still too large for me, maybe 4x4 or 5x5cm and had soldered connectors. Second problem was that although it performed as announced I couldn't source more of them. And again, desoldering connectors is annoying.

Image

Mine was almost identical to this one except the 2 connectors were each on one side and it had no AC input plug

So I built my first working prototype with that one and confirmed the concept, though looking like something out of McGyver, worked. Set out to find even smaller ones, maybe ones with connectors on wires so it'd be easy to desolder to make a neatier V2.0.

What follows (sorry about hi-res pics, right click "View Image") are the 3 consecutive models I bought during the last 4 or 5 weeks off eBay. All were announced as USB 2.0, all were outrageously cheap USB 1.0 crap, just check out the abismal PCB assembly, wires & solder quality on the picture. None had any (save for 1 or 2 resistors) smcs other than the black "IC" blob. The big "spider" one had its 4 downstream ports sharing solder points on the PCB. That's worst one as far assembly goes. All of them brought up the "Your device can perform faster" pop-up in Win7 & performed identically bad on Ubuntu as well, no matter wether connected on back or front connectors of the desktop & laptop i have.

Boxed (the last one didn't have any packaging & I just dumped the casing) :

Image

Gutted :

Image


So there you have it, be wary of supposedly USB 2.0 stuff from China and don't buy those unless you don't mind USB 1.0 speeds!!!


I am also waiting for another model announced as a "Mini + 3 USB charger/data USB 2.0 cable", should arrive soon, will gut it & post the pic here.

Image

Up to now the above spider one is the most promising I've sourced for modding as there are no connectors on the PCB and it is really small. I *hope* it is of acceptable quality & speed. I'm tired of ordering, waiting 2 weeks, confirming it is indeed false advertising, filing a complaint, ordering, waiting etc...

Lastly this model from "Dtec" doesn't look so bad, but upstream connector is soldered on the PCB ; I am still looking for a source outside of Alibaba (minimum order 100pc). It is on sale at brando.com but at 12 or 14$ +p&s it's too much for my planned production budget.

Image

Will eventually find one, gut it and post its entrails here as well.

If known brands made micro-hubs I would have bought a Logitech or Belkin or Verbatim one but I couldn't find any sufficiently compact models from those manufacturers.

So there you have it, my first small in-progress contribution to hackaday, here's to hoping some of you find this info useful!

Cheers & happy hacking! :mrgreen:

S.K.


EDIT 1 : See post below, the White version of the "Man Hub" is confirmed USB 2.0 so aim for that one. It lights up with a blue led instead of a green one for the black.
Last edited by SK2013 on February 19th, 2013, 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Crap USB hubs thread (w/pics)

Postby k-ww » February 15th, 2013, 9:01 am

If you are that unhappy with what is out there, why not roll our own?

I did a few minutes of searching for USB HUB in FINDCHIPS.COM, and this is a
3 channel one I found:

http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/e ... ND/2259371
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Re: Crap USB hubs thread (w/pics)

Postby SK2013 » February 15th, 2013, 2:40 pm

Mmmm...never thought about it actually!

But even though I like tinkering a bit I'm of the "if it aint broke don't fix" kind...Making my own would be re-inventing the wheel and I'm not too keen on that, plus where I'm at for the following months I don't have a proper workench, can't etch PCBs etc...

I'm not unhappy about all this, just thought this info could spare some people unecessary trouble that's all. I'm sure I'll end up finding a properly designed one and that'll be it. When I bought those I wasn't expecting very high quality stuff since they were dirt cheap anyway, but still false advertising is false advertising and needs to be shared.

Thanks for your thought though! :)
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Re: Crap USB hubs thread (w/pics)

Postby SK2013 » February 19th, 2013, 6:06 am

Hey all,

received my replacement for the "black guy" hub from ebay UK seller talklinesales (very helpful & pro) and happy to say that the white one is indeed USB 2.0 ; in my benchmarks the black one only goes up to 1.5mb/s whilst the white one zips at 19 megs/s.

Gutting them side by side, all becomes clear :

Image

The white one bears a real controller & a quartz on the back side whilst the black one, just a blob.

Is this bad taste chinese racism? ;)

Anyway there you have it, I can finally get busy will update soon with moaaar hub p0rn! :D
Last edited by SK2013 on February 20th, 2013, 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Crap USB hubs thread (w/pics)

Postby semicolo » February 19th, 2013, 10:04 am

isn't 19Mbps a little slow for USB2 that can go up to 480Mbps? It's not that far from the 12Mbps USB1 can do in full speed.
I expect my high speed USB2 devices to be able to send data at least at 10MBps, so a hub should at least be able to do 100Mbps, if not the full 480Mbps.
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Re: Crap USB hubs thread (w/pics)

Postby SK2013 » February 20th, 2013, 6:51 am

Hi semicolo,

thanks for dropping by, I got my units wrong, I meant 19 megabytes / sec. My test Pendrive is rated on http://usbspeed.nirsoft.net/usb_drive_s ... mmary.html as a 19 average speed so no bottlenecking from the hub this time.

Difference in assembly is quite flagrant innit?

EDIT for semicolo : yes the black blob is the IC, but sometimes there's nothing under it! All I can say is I haven't yet come across a true 2.0 hub that used blobs. They all had proper visible microchips.
Last edited by SK2013 on February 22nd, 2013, 4:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Crap USB hubs thread (w/pics)

Postby semicolo » February 20th, 2013, 11:25 am

Yup the PCBs are different but the difference is mainly the Hub chips, the one hidden under the black blob must be USB 1.1, hence the slow speed and warnings from the computer.
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Re: Crap USB hubs thread (w/pics)

Postby SK2013 » February 25th, 2013, 8:42 am

Received another "spider" type, pr0n below, happy to report it is 2.0 as well, same 2.0 chip as the white man one, FE1.1.

Image

PCB is twice as small as the previous one, can hardly get smaller than that (2x1cm), the wires are not even plastic shielded...

Time to get soldering... 8-)
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