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Author Topic: USB Extender Problem  (Read 5681 times)

Noam

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USB Extender Problem
« on: November 15, 2010, 09:24:15 PM »

I have been using my CM15A with an NTI Xtendex USB-over-CAT5 Extender for a few months, and I've been having problems lately with the CM15A USB connection re-initializing more often than it should.
I am running Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit, and AHP 3.296.

I have been working with X10 support, and the two technicians I have been working with feel that the problem might be in the USB extender itself.
So, I have a few questions for those of you using USB extenders in your setup:

1) Is anyone else using an Xtendex USB extender with their CM15A? If so, have you had any issues with it?
2) Has anyone had problems getting any other model of USB extender to work properly with their setup?
3) What make/model USB extenders are you using, and do any of you have one working in Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit with no issues?

Thanks
--Noam
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 10:59:35 AM by Noam »
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Noam

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2010, 11:06:21 AM »

After further research and testing, it looks like the Win7 Pro x64 USB stack is being re-initialized often when you plug in a device (doesn't happen every time, though).
Behavior is less apparent when not using the extender, but I haven't been able to prove that it won't happen at all without the extender.
Before I spend money on another extender, I was hoping to get some advice from others here about what the best course of action might be.
I need the extender because my CM15A is plugged into an XTB-IIR mounted next to the breaker box. Moving the CM15A is not really an option for me.
My computers are in a different room (about 50 feet as the crow stretches a long cat5 cable for testing, probably closer to 75 feet as the crow ran the wire neatly through the ceiling and the walls so nobody trips on it and his wife doesn't get upset).
Moving the PC is not really an option for me, either.

I am hoping that a different make/model of USB-over-cat5 extender will work better with Win 7 Pro 64-bit and my CM15A. Any advice as to which one to buy?
Thanks
--Noam
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HA Dave

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2010, 11:31:24 AM »

..... My computers are in a different room (about 50 feet as the crow stretches a long cat5 cable for testing, probably closer to 75 feet as the crow ran the wire neatly through the ceiling and the walls so nobody trips on it and his wife doesn't get upset).

That tells me you constructed your cable setup yourself. I have also ran some CAT5. could you have a poor... or even dirty connection? Just a thought. If in a basement (laundry?) area corrosion could even be a concern.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 11:33:10 AM by Dave_x10_L »
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Noam

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2010, 12:38:56 PM »

..... My computers are in a different room (about 50 feet as the crow stretches a long cat5 cable for testing, probably closer to 75 feet as the crow ran the wire neatly through the ceiling and the walls so nobody trips on it and his wife doesn't get upset).

That tells me you constructed your cable setup yourself. I have also ran some CAT5. could you have a poor... or even dirty connection? Just a thought. If in a basement (laundry?) area corrosion could even be a concern.

That's entirely possible, I did install the wiring myself, and I tested it all with my 4-pair RJ45 tester.

Starting from the PC end, I have a relatively short USB A-B cable going to the first half of the extender.
From there, I have a (factory-made) CAT5 patch cable to the wall-jack.
That connects (via wiring I installed myself) to my main patch panel.
From there, I have an additional CAT5 cable I made (crimped RJ45's on each end) over to the other half of the extender.
There is another short USB A-B cable going from 1 port of the extender (it has a 4-port hub built-in at the remote end) to the CM15A.
It is entirely possible that there is a bad connection anywhere along the way.

However, I tested last night with a (factory made) 50-foot patch cable directly between the two halves of the extender, and had the same results as with my original cabling.

I have two identical extender sets, I tried the other one with the same results, too.

The one thing I didn't try was swapping out the USB cables at the ends. I could try that this evening, I have a drawer full of brand-new ones I could try.
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Tuicemen

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2010, 01:34:06 PM »

The one thing I didn't try was swapping out the USB cables at the ends. I could try that this evening, I have a drawer full of brand-new ones I could try.
I have a USB extension cable that came with a capture device it always works its self loose at the PC and causes multiple reinitializing.
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Noam

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2010, 01:38:50 PM »

The one thing I didn't try was swapping out the USB cables at the ends. I could try that this evening, I have a drawer full of brand-new ones I could try.
I have a USB extension cable that came with a capture device it always works its self loose at the PC and causes multiple reinitializing.

Another great suggestion. I'll check for loose USB cables when I swap them out tonight.
Thanks!
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Noam

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2010, 11:51:42 AM »

I replaced the USB cables, and added ferrite chokes at the ends of the CAT5 cable.
However, that didn't resolve the issue, I still had another "re-initialization" happen this morning (although the system did go nearly 10 hours without one!).
Based on searches on the forums, I ordered one of these:
http://www.monoprice.com/products/search.asp?keyword=6042&x=18&y=14
for just under $16 shipped.
I'll report back if it makes any difference with my problem.
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Noam

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 03:08:18 PM »

Well, after a LOT of weekend testing, I really have no idea where my problem really lies.
However, I have some clues, and the CAT5 cabling is my biggest suspect at the moment.
My system went over 24 hours with no re-inits at one point over the weekend, but then I got a series of them yesterday (which I think were triggered by running my air compressor - on the same circuit as the Xtendex's power adapter).
The new USB extender had the same, if not worse results (it actually locked up the entire CM15A and x10nets.dll within about an hour). So, I took it out of the mix, and went back to the original Xtendex one. Since I have been using the same CAT5 cabling (short patch cable--> wall jack--> patch panel--> very long patch cable) all along, I suspect there is something in that wiring that is flaky.

There were a few more re-inits overnight, but this morning I wiggled the plugs at the patch panel and at the wall jack where they connect. I DIDN'T unplug them, I just wiggled them a little.
One of the two caused a re-init of the CM15A (I suspect it was the one at the wall jack, but I can't be sure).
I tried wiggling them both again, but didn't see another re-init.
That was about 8 hours ago, and I haven't seen another re-init yet.

I think I am going to try running a new point-to-point CAT5 cable (bypassing the patch panel and the wall jacks), and see if that makes a difference.

A second idea is to plug a long extension cord into my XTB-IIR, and run it over near the PC, so I can connect the CM15A to the Pc with a standard-length USB cable.

A third idea I had is to use a USB Network Server device, that would actually serve up the CM15A to my whole network. Does anyone have experience with one of those? I remember seeing that someone here was using a Keyspan one (since discontinued), but they "un-link" it from the Pc after downloading. I am wondering if anyone uses one with a 24/7 always-on PC connection? I would like to use it for some of the SDK programs (X10 Commander, as well as some cmd scripts I write using AHCMD.exe), which require an always-on connection between the CM15A and the PC. Here is the one I found at Microcenter:
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0329760

Does anyone have any experience with this one, or a different one they can recommend for my configuration?

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zbrojovka

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2010, 11:42:24 AM »

Did you ever find a solution to this?

Could it be that the extender you are using isn't carrying enough power to the camera?  75 feet is fairly long and I would imagine relying on the PC power alone could cause an issue.  I'm not sure, but just guessing really.  Take a look at these: http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=5529

They are expensive, but bullet proof. 
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HA Dave

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2010, 12:08:35 PM »

Take a look at these: http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=5529
They are expensive, but bullet proof. 

Yeah... they are expensive! Might be better to but the CM15A next to the Breaker Box... and use the $500 to buy a new computer.
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Noam

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2010, 10:47:50 PM »

Could it be that the extender you are using isn't carrying enough power to the camera?  75 feet is fairly long and I would imagine relying on the PC power alone could cause an issue.
The extender I'm using is self-powered. The "remote" end has a 9V power adapter, which not only powers the 4-port hub that is built in, but also sends power down the CAT5 to power the "local" end at the PC.
It was definitely some sort of interference leaking into the CAT5, because turning on flourescent lights in the same rooms where the cable runs, as well as the furnace kicking on would case a momentary reset.

Here's an update:
After trying two other USB-over-CAT5 extenders I bought, both had the same issues. The USB connection would randomly reset itself.
Over the first few days this week, I was getting lockups, where the entire USB bus would refuse to work until I removed and re-inserted each device.
I tried putting a powered hub between the Pc and the extender (the extender itself shows up as a 4-port hub). no luck.
I installed an add-in PCI USB card, thinking maybe the controller on the motherboard was flaky. no luck.

I finally got fed up with it, and plugged a 100-foot power extension cord into the front outlet of my XTB-IIR, and ran it across the ceiling of my basement, and down the wall, so I cound bring it through the wall into the room with the PC. I plugged the CM15A into that extension cord, and connected it to the Pc with a shorter (less than the theoretical 16-foot maximum) USB cable.
I am waiting to see how stable it will be.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2010, 10:52:30 PM by Noam »
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IPS

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2010, 11:31:20 AM »

Here's my 2 bits

I have practically same set up except am running xp. I use USB extender and cat 6 cable with home made ends. CM15a is installed next to breaker panel on a exclusive circuit. All works well except when I decide to do some thing in the electrical closet and disturb the cat6 and other end of USB extender. Then replugging the cat6 into usb extender solves the problem till next disturbance.
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Noam

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Re: USB Extender Problem
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2010, 09:43:14 PM »

Well, the system has been stable for over 72 hours now, using the long AC extension cord from the XTB-IIR to the CM15A, and using a relatively short USB cable to the PC. I can't explain why every USB extender I tried would lock up or have momentary "burps". However, I got tired of wasting so much time trying to track down the source of the problem.
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