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QuickTech USB Overview
SRP: $399 (US)
Ultra-X has recently added a new product to their lineup for testing USB functionality called the QuickTech USB. USB, of course, stands for Universal Serial Bus and is a personal computer interface that is becoming quite popular. Everything from printers, scanners, CDRW drives, keyboards and mice are available with a USB interface. With so many products needing a functional USB port, this new tester from Ultra-X is bound to find popularity with professional repair techs, system integrators and equipment designers.
The retail box consists of a proprietary circuit card, a USB cable and a floppy disk with the test software. The circuit card measures approximately 3″ x 3″ and has half dozen IC chips on it. Two of the chips are programmable and contain the test firmware. These are upgradeable in keeping with Ultra-X’s philosophy of providing firmware updates as changes are warranted. Currently this product is compliant with the 1.1 version of the USB specification. When USB 2.0 ports become standard, Ultra-X is planning on offering a firmware upgrade for this enhanced specification. In addition to firmware upgradability, most chips on the board are socketed to aid quick repairs if the need arises.
A single board mount USB port is the main interface to the PC via the included cable. The manual recommends using the included cable so that voltage measurements are as accurate as possible. There is a green Power LED provided to let the user know when the tester is actively being powered. The board is bus powered, meaning there is no need for any power bricks as the power comes in on the USB cable. The bottom of the open circuit board contains a black piece of laminate and some rubber mounts to prevent it from shorting to anything while in use.
Brief USB Overview
The most recent crop of computers on the market have USB ports compliant with the 1.1 version of the specification. The QuickTech USB is currently configured to handle only 1.1 ports. Over the coming months, USB 2.0 will begin to make its appearance and Ultra-X plans on supporting that at a future date.
USB 1.1 currently allows data transfer speeds at the high end of 12MB/sec (referred to as full speed peripherals) and at the low end of 1.5MB/sec (referred to as low speed peripherals). With USB 2.0, the possible data rates should increase by 40x or up to 480MB/sec. This will allow for a wider range of USB peripherals that need greater data bandwidths. Luckily, backwards compatibility is part of the USB development roadmap. USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 will still use the same connectors and cables, and devices should be able to be intermixed while still functioning as originally intended. Obviously, a USB 2.0 peripheral will require a USB 2.0 interface port on the PC side for full speed operation.
The cable interface scheme of USB is quite simple. The table below shows only 4 wires necessary, two for +5V/Gnd and two for the bi-directional data. The Quick Tech USB port tester provides monitoring of the +5V lines for fluctuations and levels, and does a number of communications loopback tests at different data rates to check the data lines, just as a serial port loopback test does.
Table 1 – USB Port Pinout
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