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Adding an external power supply to a cheap USB hub

Picture of Adding an external power supply to a cheap USB hub

One day I found myself in the need for a USB hub with an eternal power supply but when I went to a shop I verified they can be quite more expensive than the ones that don’t ha\ve external power supply. No big deal, “I’ll just by a cheap one and add the external power supply”, I thought. And that’s what I did! After all I just had to add a wire on VCC, another on GND and cut the VDD wire of the USB cable that connects to the computer.. So, I went to a shop and bought the cheaper USB2.0 USB hub that I found and took it home for some small hacking.
This instructables has only 7 steps:

  1. Inspect the USB hub for signs of upgrades
  2. Open the enclosure
  3. Locate the GND and VCC traces and solder a wire to each one of them.
  4. Solder a connector to the wires.
  5. Cut the VCC (red) wire of the USB cable that connects the hub to the computer.
  6. If necessary, modify the enclosure to make the connector for the power supply accessible.
  7. Close the enclosure

For this instructable you will need the following tools:

You will also need the following skills:

  • Basic circuit analysis skills (continuity testing, voltage measuring)

For better quality pictures check out http://www.thebitbangtheory.com/2012/06/adding-an-external-power-supply-to-a-cheap-usb-hub/

 
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SuperT22 months ago
Do i just have to replace the red and black wires?
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NickJ2 made it!2 months ago
Thanks very much for the instructable. Managed to convert a keyboard with two usb ports on it into a powered hub, now I can use both a proper keyboard and wireless mouse with my Microsoft surface.
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SuperT2 NickJ22 months ago
How do you do it? Ive got the same keyboard. Did you use this method?
msaleiro (author)  NickJ22 months ago
Hi! I'm glad you could learn enough things from my instructable to make your own hack into another device :)
NickJ2 msaleiro2 months ago
Once I realized it was the current that was the issue with uncovered hubs not the voltage it all made sense, the surface only provides enough current to power one device. Now that mouse and keyboard work I'm gonna try plugging my ext hd to the extra port and see what happens
SuperT22 months ago
My keyboard has 2 usb's behind it. Can i use this method to give iy external power?
rcrusem62 months ago

Hello sir. I don't see a power ports on my hub. Will this work if I desolder the red and black wire from the USB cable connected to PC and replace it with red and black from the power supply?

msaleiro (author)  rcrusem62 months ago
Hi! Just desolder the red one from the cable that goes to the PC and keep the black one soldered. Connect the red one to the power supply. Then solder another black wire to the existing black wire and connect it to the power supply. After that, you're done :) Good luck!
nyacumo3 months ago
Hi. Thanks for this tutorial. I would like to conect the male usb cable to an otg adapter and then to my samsung s4.Will this setup charge or keep charge my phone? (Im confuse whether i jave to cut or not the red cable in this case) yhanks in advance from argentina.
msaleiro (author)  nyacumo3 months ago
I'm not sure if I understood what you want to do. You want to use the hub to connect multiple devices to your phone?
nyacumo msaleiro3 months ago
Yes i have a samsung s4. I would like to connect several accesories to my cellphone in this order s4-> otg-> usb hub+ ext power. The idea is to connect everything and charge the phone at the same time.
msaleiro (author)  nyacumo3 months ago

Ok, so in your case you shouldn't cut the red wire. However, be aware that some of the other USB ports (or an external connector, if your hub has one) will have to provide power to all the devices. Your phone will not be able to handle all of them. Also, I am not aware of how the power is managed in the USB OTG ports and although I think nothing bad will happen, I take no responsbility if it does :P

nyacumo msaleiro3 months ago
Thank you very much for your kind reply
nyacumo msaleiro3 months ago
Yes i have a samsung s4. I would like to connect several accesories to my cellphone in this order s4-> otg-> usb hub+ ext power. The idea is to connect everything and charge the phone at the same time.
nyacumo nyacumo3 months ago
Mouse keyboard and ext hdd basically
GianniM4 months ago

Do you think that if a phone doesn't have OTG feature it's just that it doesn't power the USB devices? I mean, if I add a 5V external power source to a hub, will my cell phone detect the pendrives/memory sticks?

msaleiro (author)  GianniM4 months ago

It will depend on the phone and its specifications. If the phone firmware does not include drivers to handle USB devices, they will not be recognized.

nyacumo msaleiro3 months ago
Hi. Thanks for this tutorial. I would like to conect the male usb cable to an otg adapter and then to my samsung s4.Will this setup charge or keep charge my phone? (Im confuse whether i jave to cut or not the red cable in this case) yhanks in advance from argentina.
GianniM4 months ago

Question: if instead of adding a connector to the hub, I plug a USB charger into one of the ports, will it work? Of course, cutting the red, 5V wire inside the hub before.

msaleiro (author)  GianniM4 months ago

Yes, it should work fine :)

GianniM4 months ago

But if you plug the hub to a PC, and you add an external 5V source, wouldn't that collide with the PC's own 5V that will too be present in the hub?

msaleiro (author)  GianniM4 months ago
Yes, that's why you need to cut the red wire in step 3 :)
jack.mogren4 months ago

Thanks for this Instructable. I've had a problem with suppling ample power to a camera device via a 10 meter active repeater USB cable and this is the answer. As I found out, an active repeater cable only provides for a good USB data source between devices, not adequate amperage.

kwayakashi5 months ago

Great instructable, msaleiro - thanks so much for posting this. I wonder if I can use any 5V regulated power supply regardless of the Ampere/Wattage? Can I use a 5V adapter that I got from other devices?

msaleiro (author)  kwayakashi5 months ago
Hi! Thanks for the appreciation! Yes, as long it is a 5V adapter, you can use it. The more Amps the adapter has, the bigger is the amount of current it can provide to the devices. However, the devices will only take the current they need :)
elerouxx8 months ago

Thank you very much for this instructable. I'll use it to ammend for my little tragedy. It happens that I bought a Microsoft Surface Pro, second hand, and the day after I managed to fry the single USB port on the device. I was devastated. Now I found out that I broke the USB ability to power the devices - devices that are powered externally do work. So, my chances are that I can still use a powered hub to use the Surface's USB port. I only wish I could fix the port, but the Surface is extremely difficult to open, let alone fix.

elerouxx elerouxx8 months ago

Oh, I forgot to contribute here on the following: NEVER forget to cut the wire that prevents the power go INTO the usb port in the computer. I lost the Surface's USB port trying to connect a device that was powered, but the power went also into the port. Later that day, not even a usb flash drive would work anymore.

This was very helpful. Got a usb ub for £1 and now have it powered. Just wish my soldering skls were better.

Could I get your opinion on whether or not the hub I have would be possible to do this with? Here's some pictures. http://imgur.com/a/IXUXH I think I might have to just solder the power wires in directly to the existing power wires. Hopefully this won't be a problem. if it does work, which wires (the power adaptor has white and black wires) should I solder in and to what?

can we use the default power vcc and for external one, another usb port? will it work? i mean working it with two usb ports connected.

msaleiro (author)  Arijit_Acharya1 year ago

I'm not sure if I understood your question but I'll try to reply anyway. If you want you can apply a different power supply to each USB port of your hub. In order to do that you would have to isolate the VCC from each USB port from the rest of the hub and connect bot VCC and GND to an external power supply. If I didn't reply to your question then please explain it better or include some diagram showing what you pretend to do.

R1672 years ago
Thank you. I knew the basics, just wanted a confirmation of what someone else has done. I need to hack a usb multiplexer for my pi which just can't supply enough power for a wireless keyboard/mouse combo and wifi adapter. Now I just need to find a 5v regulator and a barrel plug and I will finally be able to use the pi without sacrificing internet or keyboard.
Is there any chance of interference from the power cables or are those cables just for power?
msaleiro (author)  portablesounds2 years ago
The power cables are only used for power. Noise may come from power cables if you use a very noisy power supply. That's why I recommend using a 5V regulated power supply
hi..can i use a 5v battery ?
msaleiro (author)  Khochora ALEX2 years ago
You can only use a battery if you add a 5V voltage regulator at the output of the battery. Otherwise it will not work since the battery voltage will change along time.
My computer can not read my usb sticks. It's because it can not give enough power to the usb sticks. Will this work ?
msaleiro (author)  Khochora ALEX2 years ago
Hi! I find it very strange that the computer cannot provide enough power for a USB stick. Try connecting some other device to see if it works ok. It seems to me that you have some problem in the USB controller of your computer. You should try connecting other devices to your USB ports and try your USB sticks on other computers. If it's really a power issue (but I seriously doubt it is), yes, this will fix it.
Flosbert2 years ago
Amazing idea. So why couldn't I just tap power into a normal usb extension cable? For example to power a device on the Raspberry pi where you might need a powered hub but not necessarily more ports.
msaleiro (author)  Flosbert2 years ago
Yes, it would work as long as ou have a good quality 5V regulated power supply :) I've seen somewhere that some guy, after some circuit inspection and research, made a direct connection from the power input of the RasPi to the USB ports in order to directly power them. If you search for it on google I'm sure you'll be able to find it :)
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