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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone try running USB a long distance (>5m) via alternate means?


I'm thinking of making a head-end box that contains everything that actually needs to be visible and accessible in an HTPC, while hiding the actual computer elsewhere.


-Removable media: USB2.0 is fine for CD/DVD reading and writing

-IR/RF remote receiver: Tira, USB-UIRT, RemoteWonder, plenty of options here

-VFD display: Several USB options now

-Game controllers: All USB

-Useful buttons and knobs: dissecting a USB keyboard would work


All this would need is:

-a nice, pretty box (old STB DVD player could be gutted for this, or a non-functional one bought for a few bucks on ebay).

-a usb hub

-a power supply that can output 5v,12v (drives), and 6 or 7.5v for the usb hub

-a cheap usb keyboard that can be chopped up...connect the front panel buttons on the the "case" to the kb circuit board

-a DVD drive/writer/whatever...sits behind the tray hole in the front panel

-usb sockets...chop up a cheap hub or buy them as parts and put them on the front panel for game controllers

-VFD...sits where the STB's VFD used to be

-IR reciever...sits in the same spot

-dremel, exacto knives, epoxy, and a free evening


Seems like a simple project, but I need a USB connection that about a 40-50ft cable run away, and I don't want to bother with powered repeaters in the wall. Can you run USB over cat5/coax/fiber/whatever to get a contiguous run longer than 5m? Has anyone seen devices that can do this? Has anyone tried running USB directly over cat5?


Would anyone else be interested in a head-end unit like this? It eliminates the problems of having the whole computer in an accessible location (noise, tons of cables, case ugliness, etc), while still providing everything you need to physically access on the computer.
 

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The longest USB run isn't a USB run. Get an ethernet based USB box and you can put them anywhere you want. You just have to load a driver on the machine that you want to see them as local USB ports.
 

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Do you have a link?


If I'm understanding you correctly you are talking about some "thingie" that has it's own MAC address and sits somewhere on the network, and computers on the network with appropriate software can send USB packets wrapped in TCP to the "thingie". USB peripherals can be plugged into the "thingie" and transparently speak USB to computers on the network.


This would work beautifully for me if it is as I envision it.
 

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Quote:
If I'm understanding you correctly you are talking about some "thingie" that has it's own MAC address and sits somewhere on the network, and computers on the network with appropriate software can send USB packets wrapped in TCP to the "thingie". USB peripherals can be plugged into the "thingie" and transparently speak USB to computers on the network.


This would work beautifully for me if it is as I envision it.
Yes, that's exactly what is is. One source for them is www.ionetworks.com. It's not dirt cheap, but definitely cheaper than a full PC.

http://www.ionetworks.com/products/anywhereusb.html
 

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there are self-powered in-line USB repeaters that you can get. should be like 10 bucks. off the top of my head i'm thinking you can chain up to 5 of them together with like 10-15 feet for each. i dont remember the exact specs and whatnot for whats allowed distance wise, but dan at http://www.dansdata.com/ did a blurb on that in his Letters collumn a coouple months ago. a bit of research should point you to what you need.
 

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i have thought about this.. i thought about splicing a 100' peice of cat5 and hook powered hubs on either side and see how it holds up.. but from what i have read you can get 60foot daisy chaining powered hubs.. i think it was 12 foot each..
 

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I actually looked this up in the USB 2.0 spec when researching the USB HDTV external tuner. It's a timing tolerance, but the max run is a 5m cable with 5 5m "active repeaters" (basically a 2 port hub with a 1 port hard-connected to a max-length wire.). That's good for 30m max.
 

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I have a 25 foot USB cable in my office, it is well out side spec lol. Got it from a contact at HP in Barcelona - works fine for the printer I needed it for (not paying $400 for the networking card, can't put it anywhere else, needed looooooong cable.)


- Rick
 

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I have a touch-screen and a DVD/CD drive at my seat-location in my theater and needed to connect them to my HTPC which is about 35' away.


For what it's worth, I ran 12ft. usb cables to a powered hub and then went from the hub to the PC with a 24 ft. usb cable (which I simply made from 2 12ft usb cables and a passive connector). It's certainly not "according to spec", but it seems to work fine.


Rick
 
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