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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NeuroPulse5 days ago


Does more than one USB device work at a time on that hub? I ask because it does not have any chips on it.

I found this instructable while trying to find out if USB splitters require circuitry.

Do you know if USB hubs require controller chips?


I see an epoxy blob (close to the middle toward the side away from the USB and data connectors side —see http://goo.gl/WdsLsB) that is probably covering a controller chip that arbitrates the bus and power.

In any case, I took apart a hub of my own and it looks like the one above in that there are no direct connections between the signal pins which instead go to a chip.

At the very least, a USB 2.0 (or above) hub has to be able to translate to so that you can use devices following different standards (1.1) so a controller would be needed for that. Even for USB 1.1 the hub would have to be able to serve as a repeater. You clearly need a controller.

msaleiro (author)  cosmicaug5 days ago
Thanks for answering NeuroPulse's question! Great answer! :)
SuhailA125 days ago
Could u please tell me the specifications of the adapter? how much output current is needed to power a 4 port hub?
msaleiro (author)  SuhailA125 days ago

Hi! That depends on the devices that you plan on connecting to the hub. If you're going to plug in a hard drive it may take more current than 2 usb mouses, for example

SuperT23 months ago
Do i just have to replace the red and black wires?
NickJ2 made it!3 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.
SuperT2 NickJ23 months ago
How do you do it? Ive got the same keyboard. Did you use this method?
msaleiro (author)  NickJ23 months ago
Hi! I'm glad you could learn enough things from my instructable to make your own hack into another device :)
NickJ2 msaleiro3 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
SuperT23 months ago
My keyboard has 2 usb's behind it. Can i use this method to give iy external power?
rcrusem63 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)  rcrusem63 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!
nyacumo4 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)  nyacumo4 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 msaleiro4 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)  nyacumo4 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 msaleiro4 months ago
Thank you very much for your kind reply
nyacumo msaleiro4 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 nyacumo4 months ago
Mouse keyboard and ext hdd basically
GianniM5 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)  GianniM5 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 msaleiro4 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.
GianniM5 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)  GianniM5 months ago

Yes, it should work fine :)

GianniM5 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)  GianniM5 months ago
Yes, that's why you need to cut the red wire in step 3 :)
jack.mogren5 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.

kwayakashi6 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)  kwayakashi6 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 :)
elerouxx9 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 elerouxx9 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 ?
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