Mobile phone charging terminals at airports, electronic storage cameras in supermarkets, vending machines for chocolates in shopping centers… you will be surprised how many modern devices use dozens of USB connections for their work. Somewhere it is necessary to open the electronic lock when the client receives a parcel at the issuing point, somewhere to control the servo drive, and somewhere at the same time to program a large number of electronic tokens. As a rule, industrial computers have 2-4 USB ports, often even USB 2.0, and choosing a USB hub for them, it should be borne in mind that its cost can be more than half the price of the entire project.
Today we will consider the main criteria for the selection of industrial USB-hubs on the example of the Chinese company Orico. This manufacturer has literally occupied the niche of USB-devices, and produces everything that is connected via USB: from the docking station for hard drives to various cables for mobile phones. As a rule, such a wide range is not welcomed by conservative integrators who choose a supplier on the principle of “do one thing, but do it well”, but all doubts disappear as soon as you pick up a 32-port USB hub in a solid steel case with a built-in 300-Watt power supply.
What is important when choosing industrial USB hubs?
First of all, we must understand that the USB hub transmits signal and power through a thin cable that runs through the entire body of the vending machine or other device and can go out contacts outside, where snow, rain, dirt and people! Therefore, picking up a USB hub in the project, you need to lay a margin on the number of ports in case of failure or damage: if the USB interface is available to a stranger (for example, we are talking about phone charging devices), the backup ports should be at least 20%, and if the USB is used inside, for example to work with tokens, then there will be enough stock and 10%.
Keep in mind that not all USB ports can broadcast data. For example, in 12-port USB hubs, you can find 2 USB 3.0 ports, 6 USB 2.0 ports, and 4 power-only ports. If the design provides switching mode, for example from “only power” to “power + data”, it is usually carried out by the button on the body. No software or remote control is required.
The maximum current on each of the ports, or the so-called power consumption of the device. Many industrial hubs are not designed for the fact that all their resources will be permanently used 100%. Therefore, the total power of all USB ports can be higher than the power supply of the USB hub. If there is a shortage of power, the entire hub can be disconnected from the overload, which will call into question the appropriateness of its use. From this point of view, an interesting 30-port hub Orico IH30P-U2-BK - in it, each of the USB 2.0 ports can have a current of up to 2 Amps, and the power supply affects its capacity of 300 watts. For comparison, the power consumption of a conventional USB 2.0 port is 500 mA, that is 4 times less.
With USB 3.0, the power situation is even better - the aluminum hub Orico A3H13P2 has 15 third-generation ports, of which 13 operate in “data transfer” mode and have a current of up to 1000 mA, and 2 are used only for power and their current - as much as 2400 mA, almost 3 times more than the limit of the standard USB 3.0 port.
Short-circuit and overload protection should function in such a way as to disable only the problem port and not affect the operation of the others. In General, since we remembered about protection, let us list the main:
- From electrostatic voltage
- Against short circuit
- Against overload
- From overheating
Start-up operations will be much easier if each USB port has an led indicator of its activity. At a minimum, if the hub has “power only” and “power + data” modes, then the type of current connection should be seen on the device itself, and not act by the method of poke. Considered devices only Orico A3H13P2 has indication of each port.
В зависимости от мощности, USB коммутатор может иметь встроенный или внешний блоки питания. Первый предпочтительнее с точки зрения надежности и качества подачи электроэнергии, второй легче заменить в полевых условиях. Устройства для монтажа на DIN-рейку часто поставляются вообще без блоков питания и имеют терминальные входы для подключения к шине постоянного тока, которая заводится в распределительный шкаф.
The distance between the USB ports will determine whether you can install such large devices as 4G-modem directly into the hub, or have to use an extension cord. When buying a hub for USB miners, do not forget that they need active cooling, so that one of the ports can be allocated for a USB fan.
Every chip, every capacitor in a USB hub is a potential point of failure, no matter how good they are. Inside the home USB-hubs you will find one controller, and if you’re lucky - LC-power filter with unselfish or electrolytic capacitors. Inside the professional USB hubs you will see that each port has its own power filter, and the switch chips serve no more than 4 ports, or can be individual for each physical interface. The 30-port Orico IH30P-U2-BK uses 4-port Terminus FE-1.1 s switches and only solid - state capacitors.
The USB hub enclosure can be mounted on a DIN rail or 19-inch telecommunications rack, or both. It depends on the design of the body area of application of the device, including resistance to low or high temperatures, dust/moisture resistance, tolerance to work in aggressive and fire-hazardous areas. The USB hubs Orico we are considering do not belong to any of these types - the 30-port IH30PU2-BK uses a simple metal case for horizontal installation, even without rubber feet, but complete with brackets for wall mounting. More compact 15-port A3H13P2 already has an aluminum body, and 8-port P12-U3-BK - and all plastic.
Why plastic hub housing is not held in high esteem, demonstrates Orico P12-U3-BK: in this hub, the manufacturer for some reason decided to add a mechanical shutdown of each three ports by installing push buttons. So they are pressed with a Bang, and do not want to do push-UPS, but one has only to poke the USB cable on the ports, as in the case something straightens and the switches work again. Anyway, but the rigidity of the structure is not here, and saving on materials is not justified.
Compatible with software
All industrial USB switches do not require the installation of any drivers for their operation, so they are compatible with any operating systems based on Windows and Linux.
In General, there are very few options for using USB hubs where speed matters. Usually, these are devices related to the transfer and processing of photos. For this reason, most USB hubs still use the USB 2.0 interface, although USB 3.1 Gen1 can already be connected to the computer.
Power supply of connected devices is one of the most important parameters, which is emphasized today when choosing a hub. We tested the charging current of the Oppo F7 smartphone with three hubs and got the following results:
In fact, the market of industrial switches is so narrow that the cost here is determined only by the desire of the seller, and as a rule, is far removed from reality. It can depend neither on the number of ports, nor on the power characteristics, nor on the speed of the interfaces. As a rule, DIN-rail mounting and the presence of a pack of certificates can raise the price by 1.5-2 times.
|Name||Number of ports||Current for single port, mA||Energy intensity, Wt||Rail or rack mounting||Price, USD||Relative price for port, USD||Relative price for port/Wt, USD|
|Moxa Uport 407||7||500||17,5||DIN||292||41,7||16,69|
|Orico A3H13P2||13+2||1000, 2400||89||none||118||8,42||1,33|
|Orico P12-U3-BK||9 + 3||1000, 2400||81||none||70||5,8||0,86|
Also, Orico has a cheaper version of the considered hubs:
- A3 H4 - 4 USB 3.0 ports, 45$
- A3H7 - 7 USB 3.0 ports, 54$
- A3H10 - 10 USB 3.0 ports, 84$
- P10 - 10 USB 3.0 ports, 102$
USB hubs are the simplest active device in industrial IT equipment, when choosing which you can and should save money, without sliding down to the level of cheap consumer devices.
In the model range of Orico completely absent USB-hubs with DIN-rail mount that can repel manufacturers and integrators seeking to monobrand in all their projects, but for tasks such as mass charging smartphones, as well as for mining farms or automatic storage cameras, Orico IH30P-U2-BK - is the best choice and the price for the device, and the price for one port, and the price for one USB-Watt.