Someone who knows about computer peripherals and/or physics...HELP!

OK, this is a very bizarre occurance that happens to me all too much. Here’s the setup:

I own a laptop computer. This is my only computer, so it also serves as my desktop computer. The laptop only has one USB port, but I need many (I have a mouse, printer, gamepad, digital camera, webcam, and CD burner that all use USB.) So I bought a USB hub. It connects to the one port on the laptop, and it also plugs into the wall, to provide enough power to all the devices. Anyways, I normally have my printer, mouse, and webcam plugged into the port, leaving the last one open for my digital camera, burner, or gamepad, since they aren’t used at the same time. Well, here’s when problems start. My hub is working fine, everything attached is getting power. When I plug something into the hub (the burner, camera, or gamepad) all power to the hub shuts off. All the monitoring lights on the front go off, telling me that there’s no power, even though it has it’s own AC adapter. To fix this, I have to unplug the hub from the USB port on the laptop and plug it back in, and everything works fine. This isn’t that big a deal, other than the fact that USB is suppossed to be plug and play, eliminating the need to do what I just described. But there’s more…

I have external speakers for my laptop to get better sound, when I turn them on, off goes the hub. I have a desk fan, I turn that on, off goes the hub. I have to the same process as above to reset it. If I then turn off my fan, or speakers, same thing. If I plug something into the outlet that it is plugged into (it’s on a surge protector strip that has about 6 outlets), off it goes. Un-plug something, off it goes. WTF?! I don’t understand this phenomenon. It seems to happen whenever anything in the current ‘electrical scheme’ of my desk is changed.

I don’t really need an explanation as to why it goes off when a new device is plugged into it, it’s a cheap hub that can’t automaticaly detect new devices. But the second aspect has me baffled beyond belief. I would love it if some knowledgable doper could explain it.

USB is good for general use, but as a rule you shouldn’t try to run everything through it. It has very limited bandwidth (1.5Mb/s, I believe) and every device plugged into the hub is using a chunk of it. You say you’re using a USB CD burner? How well does that work? Personally, I wouldn’t trust it.
Anyway, back to your question… I have seen that problem before, and a likely cause would be the hub itself. It’s possible that when you turn on the speakers/fan/whatever, it’s causing enough strain on the USB hub to cause it to reset. Same when you plug in a device. My advice is to buy a new hub (one with enough ports to use everything at once) and see if that helps. If not, return it. At least you’ve ruled out the hub as the problem.

Well, normally I only have my mouse, printer, and webcam plugged into it. And of those, only the mouse is on constant use, the other two are only used on occasion, and never at the same time. My CD Burner is very tempermental. If I want to burn a CD I usually just forgo the hub and not have my nice mouse for the fifteen minutes it takes to make a CD. After you mentioned having too many devices, it seems odd that it would do this when only three of the four ports are being used, especially when the box (which I still have) says it, given enough hubs, will operate with 147 devices. This seems like a pretty bold claim, and if they’re willing to boast that I would think that three or four should be fine. It’s not even a no-name brand, either, it’s made by Radio Shack. Am I to no longer trust Radio Shack to make my electronics?

And how does turning on other electrical things not in any way associated with my hub put strain on it? I guess that’s the part that confuses me most.

Get another hub, It sounds like yours has serious stability problems. I am an ex-Radio Shack manager and while RS products can be excellent values some of the electronics are not top shelf products and are made to low bidder price and specification criteria.


have you tried plugging the USB to a socket in the next room instead of in the same wall outlet as the rest of the devices ( alternately, try using the hub on a separate surge protector strip from the rest of the devices ) ? maybe some electrical disturbances or current changes is causing it to power off…

disclaimer: now, this is total guesswork on my part, so there’s no real logic as to why i would try this to begin with, but since no one’s come up with a suggestion, this is all i could think of from the given data…

I almost missed this tread!

Although my devices did not shut out, I was having communication problems with a cheap powered hub (I found later that the monitor was responsible), I decided to try a smaller portable hub that has no external power. All the devices work properly now. The problem I have now is that the small USB hub has no brand name on it so I can not recommend you a model. But I would recommend you to get a small hub with no power. I think many cheap powered hubs produce or capture too much electrical noise or (in your case) your hub could have a bad contact.

Yeah, I should get a new hub. But I heard that getting one that only relies on power from the USB port itself can lead to certin devices not working to the full potential, like an optical mouse (which I have.) So I guess I’ll get a new hub, that seems like my only option. OK, thanks.

You’ll need a powered hub to work the things you have. Self-powered hubs are only good for things like mice, joysticks, and, uhh, mice. It depends mostly on how much power each device expects from the hub. If you look in your device manager, it should show your USB port and power properties/bandwidth usage.
Plugging the printer, Web-cam, and scanner in a self powered hub is asking for trouble. It’s asking for trouble anyway, what with how much BW they use. So long as they’re not all being used at the same time you should be OK.
Buy a new hub. Powered.