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USB port switch matrix?


John Lokanis

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Here is a strange request but I am casting a wide net to see if anyone has seen a solution to this.

I need a device that can route a USB dongle to a DUT's USB port. I need to be able to simulate the insertion and removal of the USB dongle without physical access to the dongle. I need this to be controlled via Ethernet.

Ideally, this product would allow me to insert a single USB dongle and route it to multiple DUTs simultaneously. If that is not possible, I could insert multiple dongles and route them 1 to 1.

So, why do we need this?

Well, our product is designed to boot off a USB dongle and get us a basic OS that we can then use to load a full test OS from a network server. But, once we install the network OS, we want to reboot and not see the dongle anymore. Right now we need someone to physically pull the dongle from the DUT. We would like to automate this process.

thanks for any ideas, thoughts or sympathy...

-John

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In the simplest of solutions, you could use a matrix switch to route your four USB lines to each DUT. NI has some Ethernet-based hardware that you could use to pull this off, I think.

We have had to do USB switching before, and used the J-Works SSB118. However, it doesn't fulfill your Ethernet requirement.

As for 1-to-all versus 1-to-1, I don't think the former would work because each host (your DUT) expects that only one host will be on the bus - there would probably be a mess of collisions if you plug x DUTs into one dongle.

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Beware that breaking out a USB cable through a set of relays and having it work on the other side is likely to be non-trivial, especially if you're talking USB 2.0+. I've personally had a difficult time just trying to splice a USB cable before even when taking care to only leave ~2" unshielded (shield was bridged over, but didn't completely enclose the spliced area). If I recall, this was for an external hard drive with "A" connectors on both sides and the computer would recognize the device but couldn't transfer data. From a few internet forum posts, several people have done some pretty hacktastic cable splicing jobs on things like mice and tablets that worked just fine so it might just be a data rate thing.

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