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How to Extend USB

April 9, 2009

The LINDY blog has now moved to- http://www.lindy.co.uk/blog/

To view an up to date version of this post & make comments visit- http://www.lindy.co.uk/blog/2009/04/09/extend-usb/

USB is now the most common low cost interface connection. It is used with many devices from keyboards to digital cameras and all sorts of weird and wonderful things. People now want to easy access to USB devices and connections which means that the need to extend USB has increased. Extending USB signals increases the distance USB can be sent so a computer doesn’t have to be close to the peripheral it wants to access. This combats the major limitation of USB in that there is a maximum recommended cable length of 5m.

USB Extension Cables

USB Extension Cables

Extending USB can be done a number of different ways. A simple way is by using extension cables. USB extension cables are useful for extending devices over shorter distances, typically around 3m. Their ‘plug and play’ capability makes them easy to use and work with smaller and larger USB devices. Extension cables are ideal to situate devices further than standard USB cable allow.

USB Extenders

USB Extenders

A simple, cost effective way to extend USB over a greater distance is to use USB Extenders with standard Cat.5 Ethernet patch cable. At one end a transmitter is connected to a computer via its USB port while a receiver connects to the USB peripheral at the other end. Each end is connected using Cat.5 cable. Commonly used with larger devices, extenders are a great solution for connecting devices further away from a computer than an extension cable would allow. Distances of up to 50m can be achieved. USB Extenders are a cheap and easy solution for connecting USB over a great distance.

USB over IP

USB over IP

USB over IP servers allow USB devices to be connected to a network. Equipment such as a standard USB printer can be transformed into a shared network device as the server provides an interface between the device and a network. It simply connects the device to a network via Ethernet so the device can be used by anyone on the network.

Wireless USB

Wireless USB

USB can also be extended using wireless technology. Wireless USB is used for short range high bandwidth wireless devices such as presenters, game controllers, mobile phones etc and also larger equipment. Signals can be sent at a rate of 480Mbit/s over a length of up to 3m while rates decrease to 110Mbit/s when the length is increase to over 10m. Designed for both indoor and outdoor use the main advantage of wireless USB is that there is no need for hubs or wires and therefore installation and presentation is improved. Many more devices can be connected simultaneously through one connection so multiple devices can be connected directly just one host computer.

Also see this new technology that enables you to extend USB 2.0 up to an amazing 56m using a series of cables, you can also add extra USB ports for devices! See it here.

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