Ultra-X QuickTech USB Tester

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Under Test

To operate the Quick Tech USB tester, simply plug in one end of the included USB cable into a port coming from either a computer or hub, then plug the other end of the USB cable to the tester board. The software can also be loaded with or without an operating system, since the included floppy disk is bootable. The tester can also be used with Ultra-X’s PHD PCI diagnostic card and the Quick Tech Pro software for a full system level checkout.

One advantage of this tester is it doesn’t require an operating system on which to run. Most computer system problems need to be identified as to whether it is a hardware malfunction or an improperly loaded or configured operating system device driver. The ability to test a device external to your operating system is quite valuable and can save a lot of troubleshooting time.

Since the included floppy disk is bootable, running the included USB test software is simply a manner of booting off the included diskette. Once the disk is booted the user needs to specify which port is to be tested. Once a port is selected there will be a display screen similar to the one shown above. There are 15 subtests that can be executed from this menu. Each individual test is selectable, but it’s recommended to run them all. The overall test suite takes less than a minute to run through. As the above picture shows, I ran this suite of tests over 3400 times in an overnight stress test.

The test software does a pretty well rounded checkout of your USB port’s various functions. It checks the port’s general ability to communicate and set possible address commands. The tester is capable of doing both a low speed (1.5Mb/s) test and a high speed (12 Mb/s) test. The USB port’s VCC power is also measured and displayed actively on the right on the screen (as shown above). Fluctuations in the supplied voltage is also measured and displayed as minimum, current and maximum voltage values.

Like some of Ultra-X’s other products, the power of the QuickTech USB tester is the inclusion of the proprietary hardware board. Without this specialized hardware load that is explicitly designed to work in tandem with the test software, it would be extremely difficult to do a full checkout of the USB ports. Many software products attempt to do hardware testing, but only so much can be done without a hardware load to talk to and to verify and measure the signals of interest.

I would like to see Ultra-X continue to evolve this product. As it currently stands, the QuickTech USB tester is capable of testing a single USB port. Since most computers have at least two ports, it would be nice to have two port interfaces on this tester. Another enhancement would be to allow this tester to be inserted between a real load (like a USB printer) and the computer’s USB port. Some typical USB problems I’ve seen could benefit from having an intelligent diagnostic device inserted between the main port and the peripheral. This would allow for "system-level" troubleshooting beyond just the confirmation that the port seems fine when connected only to the tester.

Conclusion

The QuickTech USB Tester is another quality diagnostic product from Ultra-X. The combination of both test hardware and software makes this product capable of doing a very comprehensive range of USB port testing. From voltage monitoring to high and low speed communication tests, the tester gives the typical USB interface port a sound thrashing. The included software is structured to enable both quick testing and longer term looping testing to help find intermittent problems. Service technicians, system integrators and even board designers would benefit from having this new USB tester from Ultra-X. Even though QuickTech USB currently only support USB 1.1, Ultra-X is planning on providing an upgrade path to USB 2.0 once it’s more commonplace.


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