Experiments in USB-Extenders

So my cheap USB-Extender, over Cat5 cabling, arrived today. I’ve been running a few tests on it before wiring it properly to Vera.

I plan to use this to achieve the following effects, as time permits:

[ul][li]Extend my USB-Serial (PL-2303) Adapter from Vera down to the Family room to control the TV, then write a Luup Driver for the TV’s core functions[/li]
[li]Add a [powered] Hub to support Multiple USB-Serial adapters to drive other components like the Amp, DirecTivo etc, write Luup drivers for them[/li]
[li]Add a USBUIRT for everything that can’t be controlled by a Serial interface (AppleTV, etc)[/li][/ul]

I’ll use this thread to document the progress I make for others that might be interested in a relatively cheap solution when:

[ul][li]you can’t get Vera “close” to the [wired] things it has to Control.[/li]
[li]you either have spare Cat5 Cabling to the target, or you don’t mind pulling some through your walls[/li][/ul]

Total cost so far ~US$20 (including Shipping, not including Cat5 Cable):

[ul][li]No-name USB Extender US$9.90 (via eBay “Buy it Now” from Hong Kong, incl Shipping)[/li]
[li]No-name USB Non-powered 4-Port Hub $0.00 (Came free with IPEVO Skype phone I bought a yr back)[/li]
[li]Bytecc BT-DB925 USB-Serial Adapter ~US$11.00 shipped (see http://wiki.micasaverde.com/index.php/USBSerial_Supported_Hardware for details)[/li][/ul]

So I ran a series of tests on the Extender to see how long a cable run it could really support:

10ft Cat5

[ul][li]USB Mouse worked fine (attached to a PC)[/li]
[li]Western Digital Passport 160 2.5" Hard Drive worked fine, albeit at USB1.1 speeds (attached to a PC)[/li][/ul]

25ft Cat5

[ul][li]USB Mouse worked fine (attached to a PC)[/li]
[li]Western Digital Passport 160 2.5" Hard Drive couldn’t get enough power, light flashed[/li]
[li]Bytecc BT-DB925 USB-Serial Adapter worked fine (attached to Vera)[/li][/ul]

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have time to try the in-wall wiring, which is about 35ft away from Vera, but so far the progress looks good. For the “Vera connected” test, I was using the non-powered 4x Port USB hub. There was likely some power loss as I’m also hanging my Alarm Panel’s USB Interface off the same connector.

At some point I’m expecting to have to use a Powered USB Hub, but so far I’m having luck without doing that, esp since it’ll increase the cost of the solution compared to the alternatives :slight_smile:

Interested in how this develops, when I was wiring my house I ran 6 cat6 drops to my living room, so if this works out it would be pretty good solution for me.

ok, so it works on short runs, but seems to cap out somewhere around 30ft. At that point, the USB Protections kick in, and all the driver devices I tested would fail indicating some sort of USB Power issue.

On my Laptop, you get the usual indicator from Windows.
On Vera, it would Blink-flash the Orange case lights, and shutdown power to the USB (incl the Dongle)
On a Powered USB Hub, it would shutdown the LED on the “main” input.

Looks like all of them have USB Protection circuits (some cheaper hubs don’t, but apparently mine does)

I also tried putting the Powered USB Hub on the Sending end (first) and the Receiving end (second) and that doesn’t make a difference.

I tried a few shorter runs in the household wiring and they worked just fine, so it seem isolated to this [longer] run. I also validated that the run itself was “generally working” by first using it as a Network port (being careful not to mix-n-match any of the Wiring/Signal types at any given time during the tests)

So, unless you have a relatively short in-wall run, this option likely wont work, unfortunately. I may go try a name-brand one of these to see, since I’d still like the simplicity it gives.