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Thread: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

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    Gold Member Marcos's Avatar
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    So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    I have a laptop and its only got 2 ports, the price i pay for sony style . but i like the idea of something like this:



    when i'm at my desk. But i use a 2.5" external HD a lot, runs fine from the laptop's ports but do you reckon a hub like that would handle one of those drives and, say...a usb mouse, pen drive and maybe card reader?


    good looking product though, dont you think?

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    Totally depends on what you are plugging in.

    USB has power management as part of the original spec, so devices you plug in should tell the hub what current they want to draw, and the hub should tell devices to shut down and go away if their powered up current is more than the hub can stand.

    Of course, peripherals can lie about their current requirements and might round the number up just to be on the safe side.

    Hard drives are really variable as well. Mine won't power up on a single USB connector from a desktop, but that has an old 20GB Fujitsu mechanism in it. It comes with a second USB power boosting cable.

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    Gold Member Marcos's Avatar
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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    well the HD works fine straight from the port, i guess its a question of whether the other devices would need a good amount of power that they can't run at the same time

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    There is probably a utility out there that will tell you your USB configuration, including how much power your hard drive is declaring. My worry is that it will declare the full USB spec (half an amp from memory) in which case it will only work directly from the PC or from a powered hub (which is kind of the same thing).

    Try clicking around in the Windows Hardware "Device Manager" screen under the USB tree. I think that will tell you power available on ports as well as power required by devices.

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    Senior Member this_is_gav's Avatar
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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    The hard drive alone takes up most of the power, which is why some 2.5" external hard drives ship with a dual-USB cable, allowing them to draw power from 2 sockets, and some ship with a power adapter, just in case of situations like this where there isn't enough power.

    In short, no. You'll struggle to get anything more than the HDD itself in there, and even that might not work due to the length of cable.

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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    I wouldn't trust that hub to power the HD, isn't there a chance the USB ports on the laptop may blow?

    Why don't you get a powered hub?

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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    Couldn't you just plug the HDD into the second USB on the laptop and then everything else into the hub?

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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    I have experience with bus powered HDDs on USB extension leads and found that with the longer cable it would drop 2.0 to 1.1 or the HDDs would disconnect and reconnect in a constant cycle and the drive would click. Problem solved with a short USB lead less than 1m. Now I am having problems with a scanner and 4m USB cable but I'm not really suprised.

    Your HUB looks to be on a long extension cable and that isn't going to help.

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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    Quote Originally Posted by satchef1 View Post
    Couldn't you just plug the HDD into the second USB on the laptop and then everything else into the hub?
    thats what i was thinking too now

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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    Quote Originally Posted by amjedm View Post
    I wouldn't trust that hub to power the HD, isn't there a chance the USB ports on the laptop may blow?

    Why don't you get a powered hub?
    i dont like it when things need extra power adapters

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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    might have to go with something like this instead:



    its just really for those occasions when i'm transferring between 2 external drives and still want to use a mouse etc

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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    can you use a PS2 mouse with your laptop?

    USB splitters are often hopeless with more that 2 devices, and on a Lappy, sadly more so!

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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcos View Post
    its just really for those occasions when i'm transferring between 2 external drives and still want to use a mouse etc
    Dude, you're not going to get 2 USB-powered hard drives on it. You're going to get 1 at the absolute maximum. If you need 2 USB hard drives then 1 will have to be mains-powered.

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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    can you use a PS2 mouse with your laptop?

    USB splitters are often hopeless with more that 2 devices, and on a Lappy, sadly more so!
    shame that, because they look neat. Why cant they just make high-powered ports?

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    The late but legendary peterb - Onward and Upward peterb's Avatar
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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcos View Post
    shame that, because they look neat. Why cant they just make high-powered ports?
    Because like most things there are compromises. In order to make the sockets small the conductors are small. That limits the current capacity from the word go. The sockets are designed to be easy to connect/disconnect, so they use sliding contacts. This also limits the current carrying capacity. Finally they are designed to be hot pluggable, so unplugging a plug that was drawing a relatively high current could lead to sparking/arcing which would eventually erode the contact surfaces.
    Last edited by peterb; 21-08-2007 at 06:16 PM.
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    Re: So...a question about unpowered USB hubs

    Does your lappy have bluetooth? I'm sure I have seen bluetooth mice & keyboards. That would free up your USB ports for hard drives.

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