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Posts Tagged ‘usb’

EasyVolts USB Dongle Outputs 0-24V DC, Exposes UART, GPIO/PWM, RS-485 Signals

November 6th, 2017 5 comments

A while ago, I wrote about USBminiPower, a USB power supply with 3.3V, 5V, and one variable DC output up to 14.3V adjustable with a rocker switch, and equipped for a 4-digit LED display showing current intensity and voltage.

But recently, I was made aware of another USB power supply – EasyVolts USB dongle – that supports 0 to 24V DC, and also exposes either UART pins, or RS-485 signal, plus two GPIO/PWM pins.

EasyVolts specifications:

  • USB – 1x USB port for power, communication
  • Power Supply function:
    • Input voltage: 5V from USB port
    • Output voltage: 0-24V
    • Max output current: 1A
    • Max output power: ~2.4W (e.g. 24V/0.1A; 3.3V/0.55A)
    • Voltage resolution: <50mV
    • Current resolution: <2mA
  • I/O expansion
    • 4- pin to be used as UART (Tx/Rx) or RS-485 + 2x GPIO/PWM
    • UART – speed: 300-230400 bit/sec; resistance of Tx/Rx pins: 300 Ohm
    • PWM – Base frequency: 240kHz.; frequency division configuration: 1-65535; duty cycle resolution: 0.5%.
    • Logic levels – 3.3V

When the device is connected to USB it appears on PC as two virtual COM ports. One is used to control power supply and GPIO, the second – as “USB-UART/RS485” adapter. This allows you to control the device easily with any software that can communicate over COM port, but to make things easier, the developer – Valerii Proskurin – also wrote EasyVoltGUI program, showcased in the video below to control a servo using PWM signals.

A 0-15V version of EasyVolts (Rev. 1) was first launched on Indiegogo a few months, and I did not exactly work according to plans, as the project did not get funded. But the developer has now released the hardware design files (DipTrace’s schematics & PCB layout, BoM and Gerber) for the first revision of the board, as well as the firmware source code on Github.

The new revision of the board with 0 to 24V support is not available yet, but you can follow progress on EasyVolts website and blog.

Categories: Hardware, Microchip PIC24, Video Tags: power, usb

Maiwo K104c is a $9 2.5″ SATA Drive Enclosure with a USB Type C Cable

September 21st, 2017 9 comments

USB type C receptacles are found in more and more devices, but if you have older accessories or peripherals they likely use micro USB, and USB type A cables or plugs. One way to work around this problem is to get adapter, for example, I purchased a micro USB to USB Type C adapter last year, but this morning I’ve come across a USB type C hard drive enclosure, something I had not seen before, probably because I did not look for it.

Maiwo K104c enclosure specifications:

  • Designed for 2.5″ SATA drives (HDD/SSD) up to 9.5mm thick
  • USB type C to SATA 3.0 interface using JMS567 chipset
  • UASP protocol support (aka USB attached SCSI)
  • OS agnostic so it should work with any operating systems
  • Dimensions – 21.50 x 2.70 x 1.20 cm
  • Weight – 130 x 79 x 17mm

JMicron JMS567 chipset is the same as used in NanoPi NEO NAS Kit v1.2.  Several sites claims it’s a USB 3.1 enclosure, but it’s not since JMS567 is a USB 3.0 to SATA 3 enclosure, which should limit to the speed to 5 Gbps, instead of 10 Gbps for USB 3.1 Gen2), but considering SATA 3.0 is limited to 6Gbps, it should not make that much of a difference, if any. UAS support should help with performance too, and the company claims having achieved around 400MB/s read and write sequential performance with the enclosure.

I first found Maiwo K104C enclosure on GearBest where it is sold for about $9 shipped, but details are incomplete and sometimes incorrect, so I ended using most info from Banggood instead as they also include more photos, price is higher at $11.99. You’ll find many more USB type C HDD enclosure on Aliexpress too.

Categories: Hardware Tags: sata, usb

USBCEE Tiny-PAT Board Helps Testing USB-C Power Adapters (Crowdfunding)

September 13th, 2017 No comments

USB power delivery allows for up to 100W charging using 20V @ 5A through a USB type C port, and the specifications also mandate supports for various voltages between 5V and 20V. However, some USB-C power adapter that not be fully compliant with the specifications, potentially risking to damage your device. USBCEE Tiny-PAT board has been created in order to test such power adapters to make sure they are compliant with USB PD 2.0/3.0 specifications.

Tiny-PAT board features and specifications:

  • Supported USB Spec Version – PD 2.0 / PD 3.0
  • Max Voltage: 24 V
  • Max Current: 5 A
  • Max Power: 100 W
  • USB type C receptacle
  • Misc – Fail and Pass LEDS, S4 mode button, through holes for VBUS & GND
  • Power Consumption: ~10 mA (may vary based on voltage)
  • Dimensions – 35 x 20 mm

By default, the board will test all power rules advertised by the power adapter, measure the voltage (VBUS), and show whether the test failed or passed with the LEDs on the board.

USB PD 3.0 Power Ratings, Voltages and Currents – Source: Texas Instruments

S4 button is used to switch to manual mode, where you can switch between each power rule, and verify the voltage(s) with a multimeter, external load, or oscilloscope. In that mode, Tiny-PAT could also be used a variable power supply where you can for example, select 5 V/3 A, 9 V/3 A, 15 V/3 A or 20 V/4.35 A  with Apple’s 87 W USB-C power adapter, or 5 V/3 A, 7 V/3 A, 8 V/3 A, 9 V/2.7 A, or 12 V/2 A with Verizon USB charger. The company promises to release schematics under an open license.

USBCEE has launched a CrowdSupply campaign to raise some funds for mass production of the board. A pledge of $40 should get you a Tiny-PAT board shipped at the end of November. Shipping is free to the US, and adds $7 to the rest of the world.

Categories: Hardware, Video Tags: crowdsupply, power, qa, usb

Silicon Power C50 3-in-1 USB Flash Drive Comes with micro USB, USB Type C, and USB Type A Ports

July 29th, 2017 4 comments

USB flash drives are convenient ways to carry data around, and load on other computers. They are usually based on USB type A found on computers, laptops and even TVs, , but if you plan to connect it to your smartphone or tablet, which may only comes with micro USB or USB type C port, you’ll need an OTG adapter to connect the USB flash drive. It works, but if you don’t like to look for the adapter each time you can want to connect, Silicon Power C50 USB flash drive offers a solution as it includes all three types of connectors. Sorry no mini USB port 🙂

Specifications of Silicon Power OTG Mobile C50 flash drive:

  • Capacity – 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB
  • Interfaces – USB Type-A (USB3.1 Gen 1), Micro-B (USB 2.0), Type-C (USB3.1 Gen 1)
  • Dimensions – 41.7 x 7.0 x 15.0mm
  • Weight – 5.2g
  • Operating Temperature – 0° C -70° C
  • Certification – CE/FCC/BSMI/Green dot/WEEE/RoHS/KCC

The company claims the drive works with Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP, Mac OS 10.3.x or later, Linux 2.6.x or later, but it should just work with any OS that supports USB mass storage class. The company also offers a free Android app (SP File Explorer) to access the drive from Android devices. The micro USB port shares the same side as the USB type A port, and you just need to lift the latter to reveal the micro USB port.

The stick will have a 5 years warranty, but the company has yet to announce pricing. You’ll find more details on the product page.

Via Liliputing and AnandTech

Checking Out Dodocool DC30S USB type C Hub with USB 3.0 Ports, Power Delivery, HDMI Output, and Card Reader

July 28th, 2017 11 comments

I reviewed Vorke Z3 Android mini PC last month, the first mini PC I’ve received with a USB type C port capable of handling video output too. I could see support for dual HDMI displays in the firmware, but at the time I did not have a USB type C hub with HDMI output. But Dodocool sent me their DC30C USB type C hub so I’ve finally been able to give a try.

Dodocool DC30S Specifications

  • USB Input – 13 cm USB 3.1 Type-C cable
  • USB Outputs – 3x USB 3.0 type A ports up to 5 Gbps; 1x USB 3.1 Type-C PD charging port
  • Video Output – HDMI port
  • Storage – SD & Micro SD card reader

Dodocool DC30S Unboxing

First the package which gives basic info about the USB hub.

The device comes with a warranty registration card, and a multi-language user manual.

Click to Enlarge

One side comes with the SD and micro SD card slots with LED indicator, and two USB 3.0 ports…

… while the other side includes a USB Type C female charging port, HDMI output, and another USB 3.0 port.

Using Vorke Z3 USB Type C port with Dodocool DC30S USB Hub

I found a two USB flash drives, and a SD card that I connected to the USB hub, as well as an HDMI cable connect to a Full HD TV, and my phone’s charger.

I connected the USB Hub to Vorke Z3 mini PC, and extra cables to another 4K TV, and Ethernet switch, as well as a dongle for my air mouse.

Click to Enlarge

At first I did not connect the USB type C charger, and the storage devices would not show, and while my Full HD TV would detect something was connected via HDMI, it would show “No Signal”. I tried to connect the HDMI cable from the USB hub to the 4K TV, and I had the same problem.  So I connected the USB power supply, and I could see the power draw from Vorke Z3 drop by about 2 Watts, but I would still not be able to use anything connected to the USB hub. Later I tried to disconnect and reconnect the USB hub, and magically everything worked (almost) as expected. It looks like disconnecting the USB type C port supply and reconnecting it may have an effect too.

Click to Enlarge

We have the 4K TV on the left connected directly via Vorke Z3’s HDMI port, and the Full HD TV on the right connected via the USB type C port through DC30S’s HDMI port.  The option “Display different content for double screen” did not work for me, so I could just use it to mirror the display, but that’s related to Vorke Z3’s firmware, not Dodocool’s USB hub.

HDMI1 is the output for the USB type C port, and I set it to 1920×1080 @ 60 Hz. That’s the maximum resolution via Vorke Z3’s USB type C port according to GeekBuying.

Storage also worked fine, but all USB flash drive were boot drives, and not recognized the TV box, I had another random USB flash drive, and I could mount and navigate LIBREELEC partition, as well as copy files to it.

A final test was to connect my USB 3.0 drive, and first I would get no storage shown at all. I disconnected the power supply, and suddenly it was detected, and got mounted, but there seemed to be power issues with the HDMI port of the USB type C shown on and off in my TV. I reconnected the USB power adapter, and got everything to work again. I ran A1SD bench to check whether I could still get the same 90 MB/s read/write speeds I got when the hardware was directly connected to the USB 3.0 port of the mini PC, and that was the case. I don’t have hardware to test the 5 Gbps bandwidth.

I’d like to thank Dodocool for sending a review sample, and if you are interested, you can purchase DC30S USB type C Hub on Amazon US for $26.99. You may also want to check the product page.

USB 3.2 To Bring 20 Gbps Transfer Rate to Existing USB type C Cables

July 28th, 2017 10 comments

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has recently announced the upcoming USB 3.2 specification that defines multi-lane operation for compatible hosts and devices, hence doubling the maximum theoretical bandwidth to 20 Gbps.

Only USB Type-C cables were designed to support multi-lane operation, so other type of USB cables will not support USB 3.2, and stay limited to 10 Gbps. USB 3.2 will allow for up to two lanes of 5 Gbps, or two lanes of 10 Gbps operation, so if you want to achieve 20 Gbps transfer rate, you’ll need a USB Type C cable certified for SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps, beside hosts and devices that comply with USB 3.2.

Layout of the pins in a Type-C connector

Anandtech explains that two high speed data paths are available in USB type C connector as shown above, which are also used for alternate modes, and the USB 3.1 standard makes use of one of those paths for 10 Gbps transfer, and the other path for alternate mode, but USB 3.2 allows for both to be used for 10 Gbps transfers hence achieving up to 20 Gbps. If both paths are used for alternate modes, then transfers will be limited to USB 2.0 speeds (up to 480 Mbps).

That’s a good development, but it will be further be confusing to consumers, as most companies do not clearly explain the capabilities of their USB type C interfaces or/and cables. USB type C cables can be made for USB 2.0 (480 Mbps), USB 3.0 / USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), or USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), and only the latter will support USB 3.2.

Categories: Hardware Tags: standard, usb

USB type C to HDMI Cables Coming Soon thanks to HDMI Alt Mode for USB Type-C

June 29th, 2017 1 comment

Some devices already support video output over a USB type C connector, but they normally rely on DisplayPort over USB type C, so you’d either need a monitor that supports DisplayPort, or some USB Type C to HDMI converter. A DisplayLink dock is another solution, but again it converts video and audio signals. But soon you’ll be able to use a simple USB type C to HDMI cable between a capable device (camera, phone, computer, TV box…) and any HDMI TV or monitor.

This is being made possible thanks to HDMI Alt Mode for USB Type-C  that supports all HDMI 1.4b features including:

  • Resolutions up to 4K (@ 30 Hz)
  • Surround sound
  • Audio Return Channel (ARC)
  • 3D (4K and HD)
  • HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC)
  • Consumer Electronic Control (CEC)
  • Deep Color, x.v.Color, and content types
  • High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP 1.4 and HDCP 2.2)

There’s no video or audio conversion inside the cable, but there’s still a small micro-controller to handle messaging to negotiate the alt mode to use, which means the source device will have to be specifically supporting the new standard.

Charbax caught up with a representative of HDMI Licensing Administrator inc. demonstrating USB-C to HDMI cable with a 2-in-1 laptop connected to an HDMI monitor, as well as a camera prototype getting both HDMI signal with CEC support, and power (USB-PD) over a single cable.


The new specification is good news, and we should expect capable devices later this year. We’d just had to hope manufacturers will get serious with logos and description of features of their USB type C connectors, as there are now so many optional features that it could end up getting really confusing to end users. In case you wonder why HDMI 2.0b, with features like 4K @ 60 Hz and HDR, is not supported, the FAQ explains that “the HDMI Forum is responsible for the HDMI 2.0b specification and they have not made any public statements regarding the HDMI Alt Mode for the HDMI 2.0b spec”.

Categories: Hardware, Video Tags: camera, hdmi, standard, usb

Qualcomm Announces Audio Platforms for Smart Speakers, Headphones, and Hearables

June 15th, 2017 No comments

Smart speakers are getting a lot of buzz recently with products like Amazon Echo or Google Home, and many home automation products are advertised with Amazon’s Alexa support, so that they can be controlled by voice commands. Qualcomm is now going after this market, and others audio markets via 5 new platforms for streaming audio, high resolution audio, wireless audio, USB -C audio devices – due to the “death” of the 3.5mm headphone jack -, and hearables.

The five platforms include:

  1. Bluetooth and BLE Audio SoCs such as Qualcomm CSRA68100 for premium wireless speakers and headphones. The SoC comes with flash, DSP, a 2-ch audio CODEC, USB & I/Os interfaces.
  2. Qualcomm QCC3xxx entry-level Bluetooth audio SoC for mid to low-cost Bluetooth headsets and speakers.
  3. Qualcomm WHS9420 (192kHz/24-bit audio) and WHS9410 (entry-level) USB-C audio SoC for USB-C headphones
  4. Qualcomm DDFA Digital Amplifier Technology with CSRA6xxx amplifier
  5. Smart Speaker Platform shown above based on APQ8017 or APQ8009 (Snapdragon 212) SoCs, and DDFA amplifier, and interacting with Bluetooth and USB-C solutions listed above.

The Smart Speaker Platform will support multi-mic far-field voice capability with “highly responsive voice activation and beamforming technologies”, multi-room audio streaming through Qualcomm AllPlay, and AptX HD audio technology. Support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Google Cast Audio is coming later this year,

You may be able to find more details about Android and Linux solutions based on APQ8009 and APQ8017 on that Qualcomm page (provided you can gain access).

The Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform is expected to be available in Q3 2017.