Dodgy USB Hub Skimps on Solder--and Worse

DN Staff

September 1, 2009

2 Min Read
Dodgy USB Hub Skimps on Solder--and Worse

Aussie David L. Jones is a product design engineer who runs the highly entertaining electronics engineering video blog, where he explores everything from unusual oscilloscope phenomenon to the secret world of chopper amplifiers.He wrote in to say that he had a very fruitful trip to Shanghai recently. Knowing that no trip to China, really, would be complete without getting duped on at least one purchase, we were not surprised to learn about this dodgy USB hub that he picked up at a stall in a computer market complex.

usbhub3cover.jpg

David couldn’t remember exactly what he paid for it. Though noting that the hub can be bought on Ebay for AU$5, he is sure he didn’t pay more than a few dollars.  He admits in hindsight that the price should have been a giveaway, but pointed out in his defense that a good quality hub (Z-TEK brand) with a high-power adaptor wasn’t that much more expensive — perhaps only triple the price. But still only peanuts.

And the no-name dud does looks pretty good on the outside with its nice anodized aluminum case and stickers.

But inside, of course, is a whole other story. We have provided a few photos and text below, but to fully David’s level of exasperation with this crap product, we urge you to check out his video rant “Shanghai Special - Dodgy USB Hubs.

usbhub1top.jpgusbhub2bottom.jpg

See solder detail

Some of the key issues with this dodgy hub that the astute engineer is likely to spot are:

- The low quality phenolic base single sided board.
- No power supply bypassing. (You can see some footprints for some caps, but they are not populated.)
- A cheap ceramic resonator instead of a crystal
- No current limiting for the USB +5V outputs

And let’s not forget the really dodgy soldering — some of the worst ever actually that David says he has ever seen. The dry joints, half fillets, and almost no solder on the support pins for each connector, resulting in some mighty serious wobbling going on.

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