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USB Hub and outdoor power


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Hi All,

I have a couple of questions regarding an appropriate USB hub for outdoor use.

I have my eye on the USB hub here and the USB A to USB B 5 metre cable here which will allow me to operate my mount and cameras on the balcony from the comfort of my living room.

My concern is that the 5 metre length of the USB 3 cable will cause connectivity issues, does anyone have any exprience with this? I'll be connecting the following to the hub:

  •  Canon 450d
  •  ZWO ASI 120MM Mini USB 2.0 Mono Camera
  •  EQDIR USB Adapter for Sky-Watcher EQ3 Pro
  •  COOWOO Lens Heater (here)

To keep the hub close to the OTA I'll need to set up power supply as close as possible, therefore outside. I've done a search on Amazon for Driboxes and I believe the one here would be best for simply housing the 3-way extension lead. Does anyone have other suggestions for keeping power supplies protected from the elements?

S.

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3 hours ago, SStanford said:

Hi All,

I have a couple of questions regarding an appropriate USB hub for outdoor use.

I have my eye on the USB hub here and the USB A to USB B 5 metre cable here which will allow me to operate my mount and cameras on the balcony from the comfort of my living room.

My concern is that the 5 metre length of the USB 3 cable will cause connectivity issues, does anyone have any exprience with this? I'll be connecting the following to the hub:

  •  Canon 450d
  •  ZWO ASI 120MM Mini USB 2.0 Mono Camera
  •  EQDIR USB Adapter for Sky-Watcher EQ3 Pro
  •  COOWOO Lens Heater (here)

To keep the hub close to the OTA I'll need to set up power supply as close as possible, therefore outside. I've done a search on Amazon for Driboxes and I believe the one here would be best for simply housing the 3-way extension lead. Does anyone have other suggestions for keeping power supplies protected from the elements?

S.

I've got 3m with a similar setup and it's fine. I also picked up some of those driboxes which do work a treat!

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If you're connecting the EOS 450D, ASI 120MM Mini and EQDIR, then these all work off USB2 and the COOWOO dew heater is only taking the 5v power from the hub. So you could quite easily use a USB2 hub and an active USB2 extension cable to take the connection up to 10m from the hub. 

I currently have a USB3 hub with the following connected to it:

  • Canon EOS 1300D
  • ZWO ASI 120MM Mini
  • EQDIR

This is connected to a 10m active USB cable into the house to my laptop. I then have an extension lead with 4x 3-pin plugs on it, one for the mount, one for the USB hub and one for a 3 port USB charger which powers two COOWOO dew heaters and the dummy battery for the Canon 1300D. I just put the extension lead in a plastic box to keep it off the ground and the dew off it.

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Thanks for this, you're setup has me thinking that it would be better for me to reduce the hub size and add the heaters to the extension. It would certainly save a few pennies! 

@Budgie1 Is your 10m USB cable USB2 or USB3? Are you able to link which one you recommend?

I should note that all images taken on the DSLR won't be stored on the camera but stored directly to the computer (will probably add a USB connected external hard drive to the laptop at a later date). Would this not necessitate a USB3 cable? 

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I remote my whole setup using USB over Cat6 , essentially it has a USB2 hub at the scope end for mount and my guide camera and DSLR.

Saving DSLR output to computer over the link works flawlessly, it takes a moment for the image to download across the link but that's all.

With APT running subs automatically I add a 15 second pause between exposures mainly to allow the sensor some cooling time. In this gap my image downloads. (in the first second or so)

 

 

The Startech system will allow a 50m cat 5/6 cable (or 100m with its expensive big brother)

Image3 mini.jpg

Edited by fifeskies
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4 minutes ago, fifeskies said:

I remote my whole setup using USB over Cat6 , essentially it has a USB2 hub at the scope end for mount and my guide camera and DSLR.

Saving DSLR output to computer over the link works flawlessly, it takes a moment for the image to download across the link but that's all.

With APT running subs automatically I add a 15 second pause between exposures mainly to allow the sensor some cooling time. In this gap my image downloads. (in the first second or so)

 

 

 

Image3 mini.jpg

Yes I used these at one time and they worked faultlessly. I only had about 12 to15M from mount to computer but tried all sorts of other USB hubs but all gave reliability issues, then I used these and I could put mount up to 100M away from computer without any issues whatsoever.
I have now gone to using a RPi at mount so no longer use them but they are certainly worth the money if you do not have a remote computer 🙂 

Steve

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In my early days imaging I had nightmares with various issues all relating to USB cables.

Some of them my doing by buying cheap usb cables and poor quality powered hubs.

Admittedly I needed really to go a little over 10M so were looking at 15M cables back to computer, at the time all were USB2 which for sure is more reliable over longer distances so unless you need USB3 then I would stick to USB2.

I also tried 15M repeater cables, which I know many on SGL use without issues, but I tried a couple and could not get them to work properly, something each time would not be recognised by the computer, but again maybe this was me and maybe the issues were a combination of using the repeater cable with the poor hubs, but all the hubs worked on normal USB cables that were say 5M or below. 
In the end after several frustrating nights I replaced all USB cables with the Lindy Cromo range (a bit more expensive but came highly recommended by many others on SGL) and also bought one of the USB over CAT6 as in post above and that just worked everytime.

Steve

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That's really helpful, thank you all.

After further consideration I think a good approach would be using the USB3 hub as recommended by @Budgie1. As much as I would like the StarTech system the extra distance provided is not a necessity at the moment.  I can operate the scope comfortably within 5 meters; within 10 meters I'm able to operate from my desk with plenty of extra length.

As USB2 is more reliable over longer distances, I'm thinking of the 10m USB2 extension cable here plugged into the USB3 hub. @teoria_del_big_bang, in your experience, do you think this would cause any connectivity issues?

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3 hours ago, SStanford said:

Thanks for this, you're setup has me thinking that it would be better for me to reduce the hub size and add the heaters to the extension. It would certainly save a few pennies! 

@Budgie1 Is your 10m USB cable USB2 or USB3? Are you able to link which one you recommend?

I should note that all images taken on the DSLR won't be stored on the camera but stored directly to the computer (will probably add a USB connected external hard drive to the laptop at a later date). Would this not necessitate a USB3 cable? 

The active USB cable I'm using is an old one, maybe 10 years old, and USB2. I've had a look and can't see a brand name on it so I would just go for a known brand cable with good feedback.

The Canon EOS 450D only has a USB2 Mini connection, so using a USB3 cable won't make any difference to the transfer speed of images from the camera.

I use the onboard card for storing the images as I take the whole scope & camera setup inside to do the flats and dark flats when I've finished imaging. I then transfer all the images onto my main desktop for stacking & processing. APT stores a backup of each sub, which normally takes about 5-10 seconds to download, but I've not used them yet.

I'd recommend getting a dummy battery for the camera, I found on cold nights the Canon batteries don't last that long (maybe 3 hours) and it takes away the worry about changing batteries in the middle of a session. :) 

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4 minutes ago, SStanford said:

That's really helpful, thank you all.

After further consideration I think a good approach would be using the USB3 hub as recommended by @Budgie1. As much as I would like the StarTech system the extra distance provided is not a necessity at the moment.  I can operate the scope comfortably within 5 meters; within 10 meters I'm able to operate from my desk with plenty of extra length.

As USB2 is more reliable over longer distances, I'm thinking of the 10m USB2 extension cable here plugged into the USB3 hub. @teoria_del_big_bang, in your experience, do you think this would cause any connectivity issues?

I really can't say one way or the other.
When I was having all sorts of issues I tried several setups and repeated exactly what at least one other SGL member was using but had issues. USB seems to give some people issues and others not.
Now it might be all down the the actual equipment using the USB and the drivers they use, maybe some are quite happy with certain setups and some not. Reading many threads about USB it does just seem pretty flakey.
Generally the issues I had were that I could setup sometimes and it all worked yet others one or more pieces of kit were not recognised and when I went into control panel in Windows to look at the equipment connected something would have a warning symbol next to it and it said it was not working. 

As I said above I never got a repeater cable to work at all, I tried passive repeater cables and active ones, the extension cable you are looking at is an active repeater cable.

Also I also bought a powered USB3 hub and that also gave issues,
I found USB 2 hubs much more reliable, even the cheaper ones, and in fact up to 10M  extension + say a 2M cable to the USB hub I think USB 2 worked okay with just a good quality 10M NON-Repeater type extension cable.
So as @Budgie1 says if you don't need USB 3 then stick with USB2 you are not gaining any speed and possibly limiting the distance you can go using a USB3 hub. 

Also as said above definitely get a dummy battery for the DSLR.

I am really sorry but I really wouldn't want to recommend a USB hub to use or the extension cable as the only reliable setup I had was really when using the USB over CAT6 setup, and I know many others had similar experiences (honestly I spent ages looking at threads on here and starting threads of my own) YET on the other hand many had good reliable setups using cheaper hubs and repeater extension cables.

Steve

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2 minutes ago, SStanford said:

What are your thought on the one here?

That's the same brand as the one I have for my EOS 1300D and it seems to work well.

APT reports the battery level at 97% for the whole of a session and that's with it plugged into the 3 port USB mains charger. ;)

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Not all USB hubs are capable of sending enough power into the system to take an adapter of that kind so look carefully into the detailed spec of the hub you intend to use.

Mains powered hubs are usually able to do this , passive ones (that are USB powered from a computer USB socket) are usually not able to do this.

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6 minutes ago, fifeskies said:

Not all USB hubs are capable of sending enough power into the system to take an adapter of that kind so look carefully into the detailed spec of the hub you intend to use.

Mains powered hubs are usually able to do this , passive ones (that are USB powered from a computer USB socket) are usually not able to do this.

Good advice.

With my own setup, anything which needs to communicate with the laptop is connected to the USB hub and anything which just needs power (dew heaters & dummy battery) is connected to a 3 port USB mains charger.

I did it this way as I found with the two dew heaters plugged into the powered USB hub, only the one plugged into the charging port would work. So there are power limitations, even with powered hubs. ;)

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@teoria_del_big_bang; thanks for your thorough reply, seems you had some major issues with this before the CAT6 setup! You mentioned before that with 5m or less your powered hubs worked fine, was this the case with both passive and active cables? I've done another measurement from my observation point to the table I'll be working from and it's clear that a 5m extension cable and the 60cm on the output cable on the USB3 hub gives me plenty of distance to work with. This being the case, I think it would be worthwhile trying the hub out with the 5m active USB extension here, no?

@Budgie1; excellent, I'll add this dummy battery to the list!

@fifeskies; Thanks for pointing this out, I'll be sure to limit the inputs on the hub only to the mount, DSLR and guide cam, as outlined by @Budgie1. The dew heaters and DSLR dummy Battery will all be powered by a 3 port USB mains charger.

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  • 1 month later...
On 31/12/2020 at 09:46, fifeskies said:

I remote my whole setup using USB over Cat6 , essentially it has a USB2 hub at the scope end for mount and my guide camera and DSLR.

Saving DSLR output to computer over the link works flawlessly, it takes a moment for the image to download across the link but that's all.

With APT running subs automatically I add a 15 second pause between exposures mainly to allow the sensor some cooling time. In this gap my image downloads. (in the first second or so)

 

 

The Startech system will allow a 50m cat 5/6 cable (or 100m with its expensive big brother)

Image3 mini.jpg

Hi fifeskies I'm just in the process of building my Obs, well l will be when l can get back to France. My Obs is about 50m from my house and my worry has been the distance involved. l have just seen your post so thought l would ask a question or three. l'm not very techy but will have the help of a good friend who is who will set it up for me. Right now comes the silly question. The StarTech system pictured l assume you connect the Cat5/6 cable where it says Cat5/6 on the unit. A diagram of how  it is set up would be good if possible. l have looked for the same StarTech system as in your pictures but cannot find it would you happen to have a link or point me in the right direction. Thank you in anticipation. Steve.

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available on Amazon, they have a single usb port version and also the more expensive 100m range version.

StarTech.com 4-Port USB 2.0 Extender - 165ft USB Over: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

 

 

also direct from Startech in UK , (but Amazon is cheaper)

USB Extenders - Add-on Cards & Adapters | United Kingdom (startech.com)  

 

For a full 50m they recommend a Cat 6 cable rather than a Cat 5 which works up to 40m, check you don't need to use the higher specified version that works out to 100m.

 

 

Datasheet   usb2004extv_datasheet.pdf (startech.com)   

Manual        usb2004extv_manual.pdf (startech.com)

 

I got mine from ebay and they also come up from time to time either here or ABS in 2nd hand section.

Edited by fifeskies
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Thank you fifeskies much appreciated. l had bought the Cat5E cable but have not used it yet. Still it was cheap enough. l will get the Cat6 cable now. Expensive hobby this LOL!

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Depending on the quality of the Cat5E and the "noisiness" of the environment you may get away with the lower spec cable if it is one of the better quality ones.

If its in the middle of nowhere it could be fine , next to an industrial zone with lots of RFI or under overhead power cables probably not.

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We are on the edge of a small well spread out village, no overhead power lines so hopefully it will be Ok.  l think there are only 5 or 6 street lamps as well so nice and dark.

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