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Long-run USB alternative idea - router

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#1 A. Viegas

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 09:57 AM

I am currently running about 45 feet of USB 2.0 repeater cables for my outdoor setup. This coming spring I plan to reinstall my gear approximately 100ft from my study. I am thinking of a few different ideas, such as leaving a laptop there and VNC'ing into it from the desktop, or potentially purchasing true USB 2.0 over cat-5 dongles ($300)... but this morning I had another thought. What if I purchased a cheap router with a USB port? I could run a 100ft cat-5 cable from my router in the study out to the router in the field and then plug a USB hub into that field-router's USB port? Check out this cheap $25 router with USB -> Belkin Router

Has anyone experimented with this idea?

Thanks
Al

#2 Midnight Dan

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:28 AM

Unfortunately, the USB port supplied on routers like this is not a general purpose USB port. The USB spec has different protocols for different device types, and this one only supports printers and storage devices.

-Dan

#3 fmhill

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:07 AM

Yes, I am currently experimenting with a USB over IP 4 port USB hub with built in Ethernet link port.

Due to weather, as I received the USB/IP hub in mid December, I have not had a chance to test it in full dynamic use, at this point it passes initial tests over a 100 ft Cat-5E cable coiled on the floor. Tests are with a Canon 60Da imaging camera, a Orion SSAG guiding camera and a USB/serial adapter all plugged in, the 60Da in live view mode aimed at me as I operate at the computer and wave the SSAG at a LED light. So far the unit works flawlessly once I figured out how to change the default IP address to a static address that is in the VPN domain of my inhouse network.

The device I am using is the USBgear 4 port over IP hub:http://www.usbgear.com/USBG-4NET.html

My reason for choosing this device was a combination of reasonable price of $95 and that the Ethernet port is 10-100-1000 Gigabit network compatible which is the format of my inhouse network...

I should comment, I have also experimented with USB/WiFi hubs and routers rated for USB 2.0 protocal, and frankly the USB/IP over a Cat-5E cable blows the sox off the WiFi link. I have not measured the data rate of each, I base my comparison on display of live view display of a canon 60Da and over the USB/IP link with 100 ft cable, Live view has a slight delay but appears nearly in real time. Over the USB/WiFi link, the Live View has considerable delay and drops probably 3 out of 4 frames...

The USB/IP link is obviously capable of much greater data flow, I would estimate the USB/IP link to be at least ten fold faster than the WiFi link...

#4 neotesla

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:12 AM

Other sources as well... just an example. (look for USB repeater)

http://www.usbfirewi...urepeaters.html

#5 A. Viegas

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:45 AM

Unfortunately, the USB port supplied on routers like this is not a general purpose USB port. The USB spec has different protocols for different device types, and this one only supports printers and storage devices.

-Dan



I am not sure, but I think if you install an alternative firmware such as this one -> TomatoUSB then the USB port on the router can become fully functional... but i have not yet tried, so wanted to see if anyone had...

Al

#6 Andy Taylor

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:47 PM

I use USB/CAT5 network cable adapters (10 pounds UK on the 'bay)

Good for up to 150ft.

You'll need a powered USB hub at the remote end.

#7 ccs_hello

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 01:01 PM

...The device I am using is the USBgear 4 port over IP hub:http://www.usbgear.com/USBG-4NET.html
...


That device only supports isochronous mode at USB 1.1 full speed (12 Mbps).
If your device requires USB2 high speed (480Mbps) in isochronous transfer mode, you are out of luck.

RE: Belkin router with USB port...
It is not designed for USB protocol translation nor able to sustain high-speed transfer (independent of any firmware). Do not waste time on that, unless only want to use it for very basic/trivial functions.


The U (Universal) in USB is a difficult term to qualify and has trapped many. Put a low-end/less-demanding device, in many cases, cheapie implementation could work. Put a high-end, most-demanding device on a work-around (with corner cut as a partial implementation) system, it fails miserably.
Follow the spec. is the only assured way to get it to work 100% of the time.

Clear Skies!

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#8 fmhill

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 01:41 PM

I believe you are confusing devices... According to the manufactures Specification page, the USBgear 4 port over IP hub does support High Speed isochronous USB 2.0 mode...

...The device I am using is the USBgear 4 port over IP hub:http://www.usbgear.com/USBG-4NET.html
...


That device only supports isochronous mode at USB 1.1 full speed (12 Mbps).
If your device requires USB2 high speed (480Mbps) in isochronous transfer mode, you are out of luck.

RE: Belkin router with USB port...
It is not designed for USB protocol translation nor able to sustain high-speed transfer (independent of any firmware). Do not waste time on that, unless only want to use it for very basic/trivial functions.


The U (Universal) in USB is a difficult term to qualify and has trapped many. Put a low-end/less-demanding device, in many cases, cheapie implementation could work. Put a high-end, most-demanding device on a work-around (with corner cut as a partial implementation) system, it fails miserably.
Follow the spec. is the only assured way to get it to work 100% of the time.

Clear Skies!

ccs_hello



#9 ccs_hello

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 03:29 PM

Mitch,

Please read the fine print...

Clear Skies!

ccs_hello

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#10 fmhill

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 04:25 PM

ccs_hello

You are reading/quoting an outdated data sheet apparently from an earlier unit/model. What I have is a new unit/model purchased mid December, 2012.

This is copied verbatim from the manufacturers specification sheet:

Provides 4 USB2.0 Host Ports over Ethernet or IP
Allows Working With Remote USB Devices as with
Local Ones

Multiple USB Devices Can Be Shared on Server

Supports USB Devices Safe Removal Function

Auto Sharing of New USB Devices

Works in USB Hub Mode or Ethernet Mode, USB
Devices Can Be Switched to USB or Ethernet Host

Metal Case and USB Screw Lock Mechanism
Enhances the Reliability

IEEE 802.3 10/100/1000Mbps, Auto Cross-over Ethernet Port
Compatible with Bulk, Interrupt and Isochronous
Type USB Devices

Supports High Speed/Full Speed USB2.0 Peripherals

DC Jack for DC 7~24V Power Input

User-Friendly Web and PC GUI Interface

Supports WinXP,2003,Vista and Win 7

End of copy...

Testing here confirms that the transfer speed of 20 Meg RAW image files using this USB/IP hub device over 100 ft. Cat-5E cable is many times faster than than any other method tested including Active USB2.0 extension cables 15 meters in length...

#11 ccs_hello

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 04:45 PM

Mitch,

I am quoting what the vendor's website says. Spec sheet obviously is referring to a different device.
If the device can fully support USB 2.0 isochronuous mode at high-speed (480Mbps), "both terms used together", it should say so too. I did not find it.

BTW, there is no way that a 100Mbps PHY Ethernet type of interface, with USB packets encapsulated in IP packets, be able to deliver (USB 2.0 High-speed) 480Mbps.

Clear Skies!

ccs_hello

#12 fmhill

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 04:55 PM

I still maintain you are getting bad information.

This is from the vendor's website:
http://www.coolgear....s/USBG-4NET.pdf

#13 A. Viegas

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:17 PM

Mitch,

Can you run a benchmark speed test on your device? If you stick a USB flash drive on one of the USB ports and roll out 100ft of cat5 cable then try this little program and run the speed test.

--> http://www.steelbytes.com/?mid=20

I have used this to test the speed of my 5m repeater cables and my USB 1.1 dongle over 100ft of cat5. For my purposes, to get video from my capture device back to the computer, e USB 1.1 fails. Then again, measuring the speed of my USB ports on the computer and out on 45 ft of repeater cable plus a powered hub was almost the same. I think if you test the speed of your device over the 100ft distance and then compare it to what speed you achieve on the flash drive plugged directly into the PC USB port it would be very helpful.

Al

#14 fmhill

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:45 PM

That is a good idea for a test, I'd be very interested in seeing the results howevere being in New England in January, and not having a flash drive, that is not a test I'm going to run out and do for probably two or three months...

Also, I see no worthwhile comparisons to USB 1.1, I have upgraded all my gear to USb2.0 AND USB 3.0, up until now, I have used Tether Pro USB2.0 15 Meter active extension cables for remote control of the astro-imaging gear. I have been for about three years with 100% reliability and satisfactory data transfer performance, and, lfor the coming season, I am presently researching and setting up TCPIP linking for mount control including autoguiding and imaging camera control including rawe image data transfer to a i7 computer via a 10-100-1000 Gigabit Ethernet network. The mount I use is a G11 with a Gemini II control system which has a TCPIP Ethernet interface built in. The need for the USB/IP hub is for the autoguider and the imaging camera USB connection and elimination of expensive length limited active USB cables.

As to ccs_hello comment about 100Mbit limit, here is what the documentation that comes with the USBgear USB/IP hub/router states:

This product supports NO MORE THAN 2 USB web cam. Many web cams on the
market today are what we called USB 2.0 device. USB 2.0 devices, by specification,
could be transmitting data at 480 Mbps during operation. The bandwidth provided by
this USB Server product is at most 320 Mbps. Though in reality a single webcam may
not require 480 Mbps bandwidth, the required bandwidth of two or more web cam
definitely exceeds the 320 Mbps this product could provide.

End of copy...

#15 A. Viegas

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 05:51 PM

No worries. How long a string of USB 2.0 repeater cables did you use? I am using 3 currently without a problem... But for my new site I would probably need 6 or 7 of the 5m USB2.0 repeater cables... I am not sure that would work, although it would be a cheap solution...

Al

#16 ccs_hello

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:27 PM

website info and spec sheet do not match.
I can agree that the Ethernet port can support gigE (per other part of the web page).
But I doubt it supports isochronous transfer mode at high-speed (480 Mbps).

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#17 fmhill

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:43 PM

No worries. How long a string of USB 2.0 repeater cables did you use? I am using 3 currently without a problem... But for my new site I would probably need 6 or 7 of the 5m USB2.0 repeater cables... I am not sure that would work, although it would be a cheap solution...

Al


I am using Tether Pro USB extension cables from www.shop.tethertools.com. I have three cables presently, two are 7.75 meter long, each has a USB repeater IC molded into the female end. The third cable is a 15 meter cable which has a second repeater module molded in the middle between the ends, the female end having a repeater IC molded in for a total of two repeaters.

As to daisy chaining, I normally run the two 7.75 meter cables in series to match the length of the longer cable.

I originally started using Tether Pro active USB extension cables with Nikon D300s DSLR cameras for remote wildlife imaging, and now that I'm retired, I'm finding them just as handy for remote imaging. My method is to use the one 15 meter cable for the imaging camera alone, the second daisy chained pair of cables to a 5 port USB hub for mount and guiding control as well as a DSUSB shutter trigger if I'm using the Nikon D300s camera for imaging.

My understanding from the Tether Tools documentation, they can be used to 25 Meters (84 feet)without problems. What this means I'm not sure, I would think they could be used longer with some degradation in performance...

I have a couple sets of the USB to Cat-5 dongle adapters and have used these on 100 feet of cat-5e cable with the Canon EOS 60Da camera with success however there is a 30% reduction in speed as compared to the Active USB extension cables... And two sets of Tether Tools USB to Cat-5 adapters costs as much, actually slightly more than the 4 port USB/IP hub. With the USB/IP hub, you get greater distance with little loss in speed or capacity as far as I can tell so far... That is still in the R&D stage of the game until weather improves...

As a side note, I have a WiFi network with Verizon 4G network access an a internal 10 port router and use it with an HP wireless printer. So, my first plan for improving my remote imaging control was to use WiFi. I have tried a remote WiFi to 4 port Ethernet router and a wireless USB dongle device on a 10 foot USB extension cable to try to increase the wireless range. I have more recently tried a USB/WiFi 4 port hub based on another user's recommendation that he gets 100 ft range. Its supposed to be a USB 2.0 device and it works however the throughput of image data with only the Canon 60Da running in live view mode is about 1/10th the speed of the USB/IP hub over Cat-5e or the active USB extension cables... I came to the conclusion WiFi simply can not handle the volume of data and I have moved on to Ethernet TCPIP which, in comparison, shows great promise...

Time and good weather will tell...

#18 ccs_hello

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:15 PM

website info and spec sheet do not match.
I can agree that the Ethernet port can support gigE (per other part of the web page).
But I doubt it supports isochronous transfer mode at high-speed (480 Mbps).


I think these USB2 over (gigE) IP devices, including the one mentioned are using the same IC (Mfg: Elite Silicon): E3868M4 (for 4-port). Per its datasheet, it can support max. of 320 Mbps, about equivalent of 2 CCIR656 streams. That is a great accomplishment. Of course, it is assuming the gigE network is congestion free.
When I checked with its FAQ, it did mention when the pipe is congested, abnormal events will happen.

Clear Skies!

ccs_hello

#19 ccs_hello

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:28 PM

http://dx.com/p/netw...or-printer-u... is another source (cheaper). With that, it's worthwhile to experiment with.
Note: the gigabit Ethernet network must be almost congestion free, if pumping a lot of traffic (esp. isochronous) through. Also note that PC side has to use gigabit Ethernet as well.

P.S. just need one on the device side. PC side is running software emulating the USB devices.

P.P.S. I think the "double boot" type of devices (Meade DSI, QHY8, etc. using EZUSB-FX2) will have a hard time to work, since the PC side USB device emulation will fail.

Clear Skies!

ccs_hello

#20 tjugo

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 11:56 AM

Hi,

VNC or any other remote desktop setup is the way to go. I have run my observatory with VNC forever and it works perfectly, it is the cheapest alternative (if you get a cheap netbook) and is ver reliable, if your connection gets disrupted your equipment continue to operate until the connection is restored.

My observatory netbook has a broken display so when I need to access the netbook 'onsite' I use a tablet running VNC to do it.

Any netbook will do the job, my *BLEEP* netbook can control telescope, cameras (via Maxim or PHD + Neculosity) and focuser easily.

In my observatory I also run an IP camera to check monitor the equipment before closing the rood, both the camera and the laptop (and the tablet when needed) talk to a wireless router set as a bridge in the observatory.

Cheers,

Jose

#21 fmhill

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 04:55 PM

Mitch,

Can you run a benchmark speed test on your device? If you stick a USB flash drive on one of the USB ports and roll out 100ft of cat5 cable then try this little program and run the speed test.

--> http://www.steelbytes.com/?mid=20

I have used this to test the speed of my 5m repeater cables and my USB 1.1 dongle over 100ft of cat5. For my purposes, to get video from my capture device back to the computer, e USB 1.1 fails. Then again, measuring the speed of my USB ports on the computer and out on 45 ft of repeater cable plus a powered hub was almost the same. I think if you test the speed of your device over the 100ft distance and then compare it to what speed you achieve on the flash drive plugged directly into the PC USB port it would be very helpful.

Al



Al,
My initial response last night to your suggestion was that I didn't have a flash drive and that with the New England winter weather would not allow me to run out a 100 ft length of cable due to the snow/ice sloppy mix we have on the ground at the moment...

However, over the course of the evening, I kept thinking about your suggestion, remembered that I have a Western Digital 1TB Passport USB3.0 drive for which I have a 3 ft USB3.0 to USB2.0 cable.

I downloaded the HDspeedtest utility you supplied the link for. This afternoon I dug out a new 100 ft. roll of Cat-5e cable, pulled a couple feet of each end out of the coil leaving the rest in the tight as shipped coil...

Note that all tests are READ tests only as write tests wipe out all data on the drive and my interest is primarily in downloading 20-30 Mb RAW data files from the DSLR. All tests are made using the 3 ft. USB3.0 to USB2.0 conversion cable for USB2.0 port compatibility in all tests.. Each test was run with elapsed time set to 3:00 minutes.

I ran several tests, first test was the Passport USB drive plugged directly into a USB2.0 port on a HP DV6T Laptop.
Average read speed with 32Kb block = 20.1M byte.sec.
Average read speed with 256Kb block = 26.1M byte/sec.

Note for the following tests, the USBgear 4 port USB/IP hub is plugged into a NetGear 10-100-1000 gigbit Switch which in turn is plugged into the same HP DV6T Laptop using a 6 foot Cat-5E cable, the DV6T has an internal 10-100-1000 Gigbit Ethernet adapter. Normally there is other gear plugged into the Switch however all was unplugged for these tests so that only the USBgear USB/IP Hub wss on the Ethernet network... As my normal method of remote operation is by a Cat-5 cable plugged into the switch, I wanted it part of all tests...


Next, with the USBgear 4 port USB/IP hub plugged into a Netgear 10-100-1000 Gigbit Ethernet switch using a 10 ft Cat-5e cable, I ran the following test:
Average read speed with 32Kb block = 10.0M byte.sec.

I changed the USBgear USB/IP hub to Switch Cat-5 cable to the coiled 100 ft. cable and ran this test:
Average read speed with 32Kb block = 10.8M byte.sec.

A bit of learning in the process of running these tests led me to believe switching to a larger block size gave better speeds so after a bit of experimentation to find the optimum block size, I switched to 256Kb blocks and ran the following tests.

Passport HD plugged into Laptop USB port:
Average read speed with 256Kb block = 26.1M byte.sec.

Passport plugged into USBgear USB/IP hub plugged into switch with 100 ft Cat-5e cable:
Average read speed with 256Kb block = 14.4M byte.sec.

On occasion, while using the 100 ft. Cat-5e cable, there were strings of blocks of data that ran for several seconds at 17M byre/sec.

Most interesting to me was that the speed was better over the 100 ft Cat-5e cable as compared to the 10 ft Cat-5e cable. My only thought is the cables were purchased as pre made cables on Amazon.com at different times and came from different Amazon distributors and probably are of different quality... There is also a possibility of SWR reflections being affected by the different lengths of the cables however that is a subject beyond the scope of this evaluation. Interestingly, no data errors were reported during timed test runs.

To me, that the USBgear 4 port USB/IP Hub performed well over the 100 ft cable combined with the NetGear Ethernet switch is adequate to convince me the use of USB over TCPIP networking should be a major step to better remote control of an imaging system...

As a point of information, USBgear appears to be a brand name of www.CoolGear.com. There is a third name that comes up in the CD documentation that comes with the unit, "Elite Silicon Technology" but no information as to who the actual manufacture is...

The unit seems to be well made and has worked reliably and well in all my tests and experimentation so far...

#22 CJK

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 06:55 AM

Just announced at CES: Corning optical USB & Thunderbolt cables

Possibly another option.

-- Chris

#23 fmhill

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 09:18 AM

Just announced at CES: Corning optical USB & Thunderbolt cables

Possibly another option.

-- Chris


Hi Chris,

Thank you for posting that exciting information. I have bookmarked the page for future reference...

I have to explain why that info is exciting to me, I am a retired Oceanographic equipment designer and about 25 years ago, the company I worked for switched to using Corning Fiber Optic technology for cables to carry trigger pulses to high energy acoustic sound generation equipment.

The use of Fiber optic cables eliminated electrical interference noise problems and greatly reduced propagation delays as well as allowed long cable runs of high reliability...

At that time, we were purchasing spools of fiber optic cable, a very flexible black cable about 1/8" to 3/16" diameter and connector kits and making cables up to what ever length we needed. The connectors looked like a Cable TV "F" connector which was glued onto the fiber optic cable using a high optical transparency epoxy... Simple and very effective...

As a result, to read that Corning has developed a fiber optic USB cable system is very exciting news indeed...

Fiber Optic USB cables might well be the ultimate solution to remote control imaging where the control & processing equipment is remote from the imaging equipment provided they are within cable reach of each other...

#24 microstar

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:31 AM

I use this product to simulaneously control and collect data from mount, CCD, DSLR, QHY5 guidecam, and ancillary equipment via a single Cat5 cable to my backyard observatory. Works great.

http://www.icron.com...2-0-ranger-2...

...Keith

#25 Raginar

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:31 PM

I tried this box you mentioned (http://www.usbgear.com/USBG-4NET.html) with my setup at that time (Orion Star Shoot 3 mono / QHY or Starshoot guider) and had no success connecting through their software. I tried two of them before I got an RMA just asking for my refund.

I'm glad you got it working; it did not work for me. One other thing of note was it definitely didn't recognize a usb hub attached to it and 4 USB plugs was not enough for my setup.

Personally, having a computer attached is the easiest solution I've found. Then, VNC into your computer. In addition, if you need to troubleshoot connectivity or focusers, you have a computer 'right there' to do so.

Good luck,






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