usb

Review: AUKEY 30,000 mAh USB-C Portable Charger (with USB A, USB C, Micro USB)

Jeff's Rating: 3/5

tl;dr: Slightly pricey, could use a better interface for charge status, and holds 20% less than the advertised capacity, but the still-plentiful amount of stored energy and the ability to charge via USB-C or USB-A makes this a versatile and potent power pack for the price.

Ever since the mid 90s, when I was able to lug around 'power bricks' with my then-amazing PowerBook 190 and 180c (hand-me-downs from relatives), I've been hoping for a reasonably-priced power brick that would double my laptop's battery life, affording me the ability to work all day even when I'm doing a ton of crazy things, like building a ton of VMs and Docker images.

AUKEY 30000 mAh Portable Charger

Getting low input level with a USB mic or audio interface? Check your hub

A few months ago, I decided to get more serious about my recording setup in my home office. I do a lot more screencasts both for my YouTube channel and for other purposes than I used to, and I can't stand poor audio quality. Therefore I finally decided to get some sound absorption panels for my office, rearrange furniture a little for better isolation, and—most importantly—buy a proper USB audio interface and microphone.

So, after purchasing and connecting a U-Phoria UMC202HD and an Electro-Voice RE320 microphone, I was quite pleased with the sound quality!

Review: Satechi USB Type-C inline Power Meter (ST-TCPM)

tl;dr: It's a power meter, not a protection circuit. It works well and is worth the money if you need to monitor power consumption, but it's made of plastic and doesn't feel like it can take a beating, so handle with care.

For some time, I've used a PowerJive USB Power Meter to measure the charging rate of various USB power adapters, and even things like how much power a Rasbperry Pi uses under load.

Review: AUKEY USB-C Hub for New MacBook Pro

I have a 2016 MacBook Pro (without TouchBar), and for this Mac, or for a 12" MacBook, a hub/adapter with power delivery is absolutely essential for desk use, due to the limited number of USB-C/ThunderBolt 3 ports.

Eventually, I'd like to plug one ThunderBolt 3 cable into my MacBook Pro and get 4K video at 60Hz (through either USB-C, DisplayPort, or HDMI 1.2+), USB 3.0 for my existing USB 3 devices, and a power pass-through so I can get the full 61W of charge out of my Apple AC adapter.

AUKEY USB-C Hub - 3x USB 3.0 ports

Figuring out why an external USB hard drive won't spin down on my Mac

I am using a 2011 Mac mini as a backup server for all the data I store on iCloud, and for the first few days while I was setting up the Mac, I noticed the 4 TB and 2 TB external USB drives I had plugged in would spin down after a few minutes, and I would have blissful silence as long as there wasn't an active operation on that Mac (which should be fairly rare; just hourly Time Machine backups and periodic SSD activity since the iCloud libraries are all on SSD).

However, after a few weeks, I noticed that at least one of the two hard drives runs continously, 24x7. Something on the Mac mini must keep hitting the drive and preventing it from spinning down.

To see what was happening, I used sudo fs_usage | grep VOLUME (in my case, VOLUME is 4\ TB\ Utility) to monitor what processes were accessing the drive, and what files they were accessing. After a few minutes watching (and doing nothing else on the computer, to make sure I wasn't causing any extra filesystem seeks), there were a couple regular culprits:

A good use for a Raspberry Pi - Missile Control

My brother gave me what will likely be one of the best useless-but-oh-so-fun gifts ever—a Dream Cheeky Thunder USB foam missile launcher.

Dream Cheeky Thunder Missile Launcher - USB

The launcher can be used with an extremely boorish app for Mac or Windows... or you can control it with some basic USB communication! I've found a few projects which allow the launcher to be controlled via any OS with Python fairly easily:

Review: Intocircuit Power Castle 15000 mAh Dual USB portable charger

Jeff's Rating: 4/5

tl;dr: Slightly pricey, but it'll be worth it when you need it!

I've carried a small external USB battery pack with me for the past few years, ever since I started relying on my iPhone as my only camera, phone, reading device, and emergency-backup-Internet device. And there have been many times where I would've been up a creek (or more literally, lost in the middle of an unfamiliar city!) without it.

But the little battery pack I tote around is only really for emergencies—it can barely top off my iPhone when the phone is already at 50% capacity, and if the iPhone gets below 10%, it'll struggle to even maintain the current charge if I have to use the iPhone while charging!

Intocircuit Power Castle - Front

Review: iClever 6-port 10A USB charging station

Jeff's Rating: 5/5

tl;dr: No matter how many mobile devices you have, there are never enough high-current charging ports—unless you have one of these!

I was given the iClever 6-port USB charging station pictured below so I could review the device on this site and on Amazon.com. I'm no stranger to beefy multi-port USB chargers; I now own three of the things, and use them for charging many devices at night, powering a cluster of six Raspberry Pi computers, and charging USB battery packs for long trips (it's great to not have to worry about finding an outlet for two or three days at a time while on vacation!).

iClever 6-port USB charger

Everything over Cat5 Cable

Whether you call it Cat5, Cat-5, Cat5e, or even the newfangled Cat6, it remains the best cable in modern history. Never has the humble element Cu (copper) been so adaptable, flexible, and amazingly helpful in so many areas.

This article explains how you can utilize Category 5 cabling to route just about any kind of multimedia or network signal over short, medium or long distances, and many tidbits of extremely helpful information and links to products to help make your life much easier.

A few examples:

Getting Gigabit Networking on a Raspberry Pi 2, 3 and B+

tl;dr You can get Gigabit networking working on any current Raspberry Pi (A+, B+, Pi 2 model B, Pi 3 model B), and you can increase the throughput to at least 300+ Mbps (up from the standard 100 Mbps connection via built-in Ethernet).

I received a shipment of some Raspberry Pi 2 model B computers for a project I'm working on (more on that to come!), and as part of my project, I've been performing a ton of benchmarks on every aspect of the 2, B+, and A+ Pis I have on hand—CPU, disk (microSD), external SSD, external HDD, memory, and networking.

I've tested the onboard LAN port (rated as 10/100 Fast Ethernet, and driven through the onboard USB 2.0 bus), and a few different 802.11n WiFi cards, and the raw throughput speeds ranged from ~45 Mbps with the 802.11n cards (with a very strong signal) to ~94 Mbps with the onboard LAN.

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