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USB Hubs and Software/Hardware Conflicts

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#1 Backwoods-Astro

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 10:10 PM

I have been considering reducing the number of USB cables between my telescope/mount and laptop by purchasing a USB hub and having one cable from the hub to the laptop. How does the typical astrophotography hardware and software react to a hub? Seems I read somewhere that USB hubs quite often are the cause of conflicts between the hardware and software. Hoping to avoid that with some recommendations from other forum members regarding equipment and maybe some troubleshooting tips...Thanks!

#2 choward94002

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 10:20 PM

You will have your best results with a cable and powered hub dedicated to a camera, then another powered hub with cluster of cables dedicated to everything else ... note that these need to be powered hubs also (so your cable count may increase)

 

Typically I have one dedicated cable going from the imaging laptop to a dedicated powered hub going to the camera, another dedicated cable to a dedicated powered hub going to the guiding camera, finally a third dedicated cable going to a dedicated powered hub which then feeds the mount, focuser and anything else ...

 

Do some CN searching for USB camera dropouts and picture artifacts, you will find quite a few where the solution was as I've described above ...



#3 SDTopensied

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 10:52 PM

Mixing hubs is usually the cause of most people’s woes, particularly the hubs built in to some of the ZWO cameras.  If it’s cable management you’re looking for, consider one of the Pegasus Power Box models with a mini PC that you can control via TeamViewer or RDP over WiFi.  I’ve been doing this for a few years now and have one power cable going to the ground and that’s it.  I still connect my ZWO camera directly to the mini pc though.

 

-Steve



#4 rgsalinger

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 12:03 AM

USB hubs do not cause conflicts between hardware and software per se. Download a copy of USBDeview to see what's actually going on inside your system. It's a great utility to use if you have to troubleshoot a USB issue. 

 

Problems with USB connections come about for a number of reasons. With regards to hubs it's due to using long (often cheap) cables plugged into hubs that cannot provide full power to all ports. I use (expensive) StarTech 7 port USB 3 hubs which can provide power to everything that's plugged into them. So, keep the cables short and use a hub that can provide full rated power to each of your imaging components. And make sure that the hub gets enough power to be able to provide that power upstream. 

 

You may or may not need to use a separate cable for the main camera. I've had mixed luck. My ASI071 happily plugs into the powered hub on my CEM120EC2, but my new QHY600 would not work properly with the hub in my Paramount. Get a proper powered hub and good short cable and see what happens. 

 

Note also that laptops often have just a single root (physical) USB hub. So, in some cases you are better off not plugging in so many cables if you can avoid it. 

 

Finally, consider whether or not you actually need USB3. I run every device in both my imaging systems with USB two connections, even though I use USB 3 hubs in two of the three. If you are going to do planetary imaging then you need USB3 otherwise, the overhead in downloading at USB 2 speeds is very unlikely to be an issue. I point this out because USB 2 cabling is much less sensitive to the quality and length of the cables. 




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