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Question on CCD camera USB cable length

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#1 Terata

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 12:54 PM

Considering moving from dslr to ccd and at moment in the investigation phase. I notice most cameras come with a 2m or so usb cable but does anyone have experience with using an extension / longer cable length? What is, realistically the max practical length that will work?
Thanks in advance, Alan

#2 sn2006gy

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 12:59 PM

USB 2.0 is about 4 meters max length

USB 3.1 is ~2 meters max length  (some may only be 1 meter for high bandwidth)



#3 bobzeq25

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 01:01 PM

In my experience, the shortest you can get away with is best.  As USB devices go, the hardware characteristics, the data needs, and the physical environment make this a challenging application with not a lot of headroom.  The cheap connectors on devices don't help.

 

When I made a concerted effort to shorten all my cables as much as possible, and use quality cables ($5 each heavy gauge and well shielded aftermarket cables from Digi-Key instead of the $1 ones you tend to get with devices), my reliability significantly improved,

 

This is not a binary deal where you're fine until you hit some limit, and things then don't work.  It's a continuous spectrum.


Edited by bobzeq25, 10 July 2020 - 01:07 PM.

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#4 phototech

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 02:39 PM

I recently put together something on USB

Note that while the cables are restricted in length, you can use hubs to extend the end to end distance 

You should use quality powered hubs and be aware larger hubs can be two chained hubs internally 
Use quality cables with good connectors. Often thicker cables are better. 

 

http://www.astrophot...ex.php?page=USB


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#5 LuxAstron

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 06:10 PM

I recently put together something on USB

Note that while the cables are restricted in length, you can use hubs to extend the end to end distance 

You should use quality powered hubs and be aware larger hubs can be two chained hubs internally 

I would be wary of the USB still, and the HUBS. below is my struggle.

 

If you can get it working, please let me know the combination and which cables you used. I need to do like a 15ft run and I am out of options.

Spoiler


Edited by LuxAstron, 10 July 2020 - 06:10 PM.


#6 dghent

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 06:59 PM

The pro move these days is to get a small low-power PC and put it either on the mount or on the telescope itself and wire all data lines into it, or into a hub, then into said PC. One then remote desktops into the PC using any variety of devices. Long USB cables are a liability in many respects and you'll be entering yourself into a lottery that will be tough to win.


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#7 freestar8n

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 07:12 PM

This issue has come up multiple times in different topic areas of CN, and my response is that I am doing well using a 15m Corning USB3 fiber cable with ASI1600.  The cable plugs directly into the asi1600 (through a short adapter cable), and the hub in that camera then feeds the EFW2 filter wheel and a qhy5iii-174 oag guide sensor.  I get full USB3 speed with the asi, allowing fast frame rate and quick downloads, and there is no conflict with the qhy that I use for guiding - and it typically operates at 5-10 fps all night long.

 

Separately I have a long USB2 Startech cable that connects to a startech hub on the ota.  That also works reliably for the mount and other things.

 

There are occasional glitches at the very start but usually it all just connects happily.  But there are no mysterious drop outs during the night unless a cable gets pulled or something.  I have the usb cables taped down near where they enter the laptop.

 

I have had various usb issues over the years but settled on this system, which has been working well.  I much prefer dealing with one computer and having full usb3 speed to the camera.

 

It may not work well for everyone - but it is an example of full usb3 speed at long distance.  It is somewhat strange since shorter usb3 extension cables *don't* work with the asi1600 camera - for me - but the much longer fiber cable does.

 

The fiber cable is expensive so I would make sure you can return it if it doesn't work.  But I have had it about 5 years now and it was well worth it.

 

Frank


Edited by freestar8n, 10 July 2020 - 07:23 PM.

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#8 rgsalinger

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 07:52 PM

I totally agree with the idea that the shorter the better, no question about that. I'm also sure that many of the previous posters are aware that cheap hubs generally cannot supply full power to a fully populated group of devices. The hubs I use are 12v and "industrial" and (fingers crossed) have been perfectly reliable. One thing that you can do when you do have USB problems is that you can download this  which will give you information about your PC and what's attached to it in terms of what hubs are in use and how much power the devices are drawing. 

 

Also build yourself a reliable check list for powering and wiring up your system. I have one system remote from here that requires a specific power on sequence or one of the cameras is never seen by Windows (and my imaging software). I had the same problem years ago and went to great lengths to bypass the the hub built into the mount to cure the problem. Now I just use a particular power on sequence and it works (for the past 6 months) every time. I recently helped out another poster here with the same solution. So, consider not just the cable lengths but, if you are portable, keep track of how you wire things and what the sequence is that you are using to connect. 

 

Rgrds-Ross



#9 freestar8n

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 08:01 PM

I also recommend splitting off the power driving the dew heater from power driving the other devices.  I have separate 12V power supplies for each and separate cables going out to the mount.  I'm not 100% certain it matters but it does make sense - especially for Kendrick and other systems that control dew heater power via duty cycle - with regular full on and full off ups and downs of a good amount of current.

 

Frank



#10 Bloated Star

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 08:28 PM

You might consider an Icron Ranger as well.
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#11 rgsalinger

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 09:18 PM

For USB 2 devices I've been using AV Access USB extenders (two of them 4 four years now) when required. They are 1/5th the price of the iCron rangers and seem to work as well over the 30 or so feet that I've had to deploy them. I just got the oldest one out a couple of weeks ago and it's still good as new. 

Rgrds-Ross



#12 bobzeq25

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 11:40 PM

+1 on the idea of having a small computer at the scope, with short USB cables and wifi to the home.  How I run my observatory, the computer is a low end NUC with an i3 processor.  You don't need much.



#13 calypsob

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 10:29 AM

This issue has come up multiple times in different topic areas of CN, and my response is that I am doing well using a 15m Corning USB3 fiber cable with ASI1600.  The cable plugs directly into the asi1600 (through a short adapter cable), and the hub in that camera then feeds the EFW2 filter wheel and a qhy5iii-174 oag guide sensor.  I get full USB3 speed with the asi, allowing fast frame rate and quick downloads, and there is no conflict with the qhy that I use for guiding - and it typically operates at 5-10 fps all night long.

 

Separately I have a long USB2 Startech cable that connects to a startech hub on the ota.  That also works reliably for the mount and other things.

 

There are occasional glitches at the very start but usually it all just connects happily.  But there are no mysterious drop outs during the night unless a cable gets pulled or something.  I have the usb cables taped down near where they enter the laptop.

 

I have had various usb issues over the years but settled on this system, which has been working well.  I much prefer dealing with one computer and having full usb3 speed to the camera.

 

It may not work well for everyone - but it is an example of full usb3 speed at long distance.  It is somewhat strange since shorter usb3 extension cables *don't* work with the asi1600 camera - for me - but the much longer fiber cable does.

 

The fiber cable is expensive so I would make sure you can return it if it doesn't work.  But I have had it about 5 years now and it was well worth it.

 

Frank

Cool, I have been wondering how well those work. I dont really understand why they are so expensive other than that they are the only one available. Toslink cables for example are pretty cheap.  I guess maybe the circuitry inside drives up the price a bit. 

I gotta say the astro community could really benefit from a  good old fashioned chinese knock off.   



#14 Cliff Halliwell

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 10:10 AM

Considering moving from dslr to ccd and at moment in the investigation phase. I notice most cameras come with a 2m or so usb cable but does anyone have experience with using an extension / longer cable length? What is, realistically the max practical length that will work?
Thanks in advance, Alan

Obviously, as stated by many, shorter is ‘better’, by which most mean ‘more likely to work’.

 

But, that is not to say longer does not work.  For a decade plus now I have been operating a camera in my SkyPod from my separate warm room via 3 (might be 4; I forget now) active USB 2 cables run underground through conduit, with rubberized electrical tape sealing the male/female joins.  I occasionally have had USB glitches of some sort, but rarely and cannot assume it is due to my run length.  This runs a camera, a guide camera, and a focuser.  That said, I am doing DSOs, so exposures are longer and bandwidth is not an issue.  
 

I have also recently used a 45’ Startech active USB 3 cable without trouble. It is powered at the PC end.  
 

So, if you need longer then try longer. It may well work.  But, get quality equipment. Buying once is cheaper than twice or thrice. 



#15 Paul Garais

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 04:37 PM

I run a 25 m long USB 3.0 active extension cable from my backyard right into my house. The cable is directly connected to the imaging laptop. On the scope side it is connected to a powered Startech USB 3.0 hub. The hub is placed on top of the scope and everything is connected to it (imaging cam, guiding cam, focuser, eqdir cable for EQ6-R, pocket powerbox).

I tested the cable for over 6 months without issues and decided it is reliable enough to be put underground and it sits there (in a tube) since start of the year and doing fine.

I had two issues with USB so far and both where related to buying cheap components: I used a very cheap USB 3.0 hub before buying the Startech. The cheap one died because of a very humid night.
The second issue was related to a cheap USB 3.0 connection cable (only 50 cm long). The difference between the cheap and good cables: The good cables are isolated well.


—Paul

#16 Jbw7227

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 03:45 PM

I'm in a similar situation and looking for options.

 

Currently with short cables from the mount, I have a ASI183MM Pro on 3.0 (EFW going into the hub on that) and ASI120MM mini and my iOptron mount (via RS232 to USB chipset cable) all going into my laptop.

 

Hoping to run 1 USB cable around 20m (minimum) between a hub on the mount and my laptop in my home. 

 

Questions-

What brand active cables seem to work well? I see a Tripp Lite that would fit in my budget.

Could the powered StarTech hub take all 3 of these USB connections and run to the active cable?

Do I need to still to feed the active cable with a 5v power adapter?

 

Thanks,

Justin



#17 SeymoreStars

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 04:04 PM

I use 9 foot USB3 cables from amazon. Why? Because damaging my camera is not fun.

 

I can tolerate a few dropped frames.

 

cable


#18 Paul Garais

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 11:27 AM

I have this one in use (you can even get 30 m):
https://www.amazon.d.../dp/B01BLPSWTI/

#19 bobzeq25

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 01:13 PM

I'm in a similar situation and looking for options.

 

Currently with short cables from the mount, I have a ASI183MM Pro on 3.0 (EFW going into the hub on that) and ASI120MM mini and my iOptron mount (via RS232 to USB chipset cable) all going into my laptop.

 

Hoping to run 1 USB cable around 20m (minimum) between a hub on the mount and my laptop in my home. 

 

Questions-

What brand active cables seem to work well? I see a Tripp Lite that would fit in my budget.

Could the powered StarTech hub take all 3 of these USB connections and run to the active cable?

Do I need to still to feed the active cable with a 5v power adapter?

 

Thanks,

Justin

Why not a computer at the scope, and wifi to the house?  That's what most of us do.  Just less hassle, much more reliable than a long cable.


Edited by bobzeq25, 21 July 2020 - 01:13 PM.


#20 Jbw7227

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 02:16 PM

I’ve seen many use the option of a second computer at the mount, and may eventually go that way. Unfortunately I had to just buy a laptop for AP as my old one was unable to work for this. I figured a 15m active cable plus the few feet on the powered hub should get me enough length so giving that a try. This option was about $150 and is USB 3.0 to the computer without having to worry about wifi signal carrying from outside of the house. Will test it out and report back. 


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#21 Jbw7227

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Posted 24 July 2020 - 12:44 AM

Update:

Had about 2.5hrs integration time tonight with the 15m USB 3.0 active cable running to powered hub with ASI183MM Pro cooled, ASI120MM mini, filter wheel, and mount all running into the hub. No issues and frames came through just fine (no mosquitoes and AC rocked as well!) No need to add power to active cable since it’s powered by the hub. I also ran a 3m USB 3.0 cable from the hub to the active cable so I’m at about 55 feet between mount and laptop with no issues. 

 

Here are the links to what I used:

 

StarTech 7 port hub
https://www.amazon.c...ob_b_asin_title

Tripp Lite 15m active USB 3.0 cable 

https://www.amazon.c...ob_b_asin_title


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