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USB Device Hardware

Development boards, modules, cables, connectors. and design tips for USB devices.

Development boards | Converting serial interfaces
Data acquisition | Cables and connectors | Isolated USB | ESD

Also see:

Device firmware and companion host applications | USB Chips

Development boards

These development boards each contain a USB chip and related circuits. Many products also provide device firmware, a host driver, and a host application or documentation on how to access the board. Some boards allow you to install your own firmware. Just about every chip provider also provides development boards for their hardware.

Acquire Devices. Pike USB Evaluation / Prototype PCB Board with EZ-USB FX2.

ActiveWire-USB. With an EZ-USB, drivers, and example application code that. Drivers for Windows, Linux, and more.

The QuickUSB Plug-In Module has a high-speed USB interface and comes with a custom driver. From Bitwise Systems.

Unicorn USB Upgrade for Inchworm+ kit. Contains a PIC18F4550. From blueroomelectronics.

BrainTechnology. USB Modul (German).

The Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology. CREATE USB Interface (CUI) with a PIC18F4550 and HID example code. Build your own or buy it pre-built.

USBS6. with Cypress FX2LP USB 2.0 controller. From CESYS GmbH.

The I/O-Warrior has 32 generic I/O pins and a driver to enable accessing them. The chip is a Cypress CY7C6341. Also available: MouseWarrior, KeyWarrior, and JoyWarrior. From Code Merceneries.

The USBee EX Experimenter's Board has 8 I/O pins and contains a Cypress full-speed EZ-USB AN2135SC. The board comes with a host driver and also works with the Cypress EZ-USB Development Kit software. The USBee EX 2.0 Experimenter's Board is a high-speed version. From CWAV.

Delcom Engineering has programmed USB chips with a device driver that enables reading and writing to up to 16 port bits that can include an asynchronous serial port and I2C port. The chips are Cypress 63000 series. Development boards also available.

The USBI2CIO Board has a Cypress EZ-USB chip, digital I/O, and an I2C interface. From DeVaSys Embedded Systems.

The DIMAX SUB-20 Multi Interface USB Adapter has 32 I/O bits with support for I2C, SPI, RS-232, RS-485, SMBus, ModBus, and IR.

Diolan has a USB-IO Interface Adapter, a USB - I2C/SPI Adapter, and an SPI Bus Host Adapter.

DLP Design has PC boards with a PIC and FTDI's USB chips.

EasyFPGA has Altera Acex and Xilinx Spartan-II FPGAs. The boards use USB chips from FTDI Chip.

Erlich Industrial Development Corp. has boards with interfaces to temperature sensors, EEPROM, ADC, parallel I/O, I2C, SPI. Includes device firmware and a DLL for accessing the device. Lots of other interesting boards as well.

FiberByte's USB-inSync OEM Board supports synchronous triggering and sampling.

The AT89C5131 USB Development Board contains an Atmel AT89C5131. From Futurlec.

HexWax Ltd. has several HID-based boards: USB-232 USB to UART bridge, TEAleaf-USB - PC software security dongle, and expandIO-USB - I/O expander.

MCCI has a series of PC cards that provide a USB device port for testing device firmware in a PC-based development environment.

Opal Kelly has the XEM3001 - Xilinx Spartan 3 Experimentation Module with USB interface.

Softmark has a variety of kits that each include a PC board with components for a project with a USB interface and another I/O interface (parallel, stepper motor, etc.) and Windows software to access the board.

USBmicro's U401 USB interface is a PC board with Cypress' CY7C63743 enCoRe-series microcontroller. The board uses HID drivers and has a custom command set for easy access of the controller's 16 I/O pins, SPI interface, and controlling LCD modules. Also available is the U421, with the PC board on a 24-pin DIP.

The USBP USB Project includes FPGA prototype boards and source code.

Partner Links

Converting other serial interfaces

USB to serial (COM port) (RS-232 and RS-485)

USB to I2C and SPI

TIMS-0102 USB to I2C and SPI Adapter. From Jova Solutions.

I2C and SPI Host Adapters. From Total Phase.

Some general-purpose development boards also support I2C and SPI interfaces.

USB to 1-wire

iButtonLink, LLC

Data acquisition modules

Sources for modules with digital I/O, ADCs, DACs, relay outputs, etc.

Cables and connectors

Generic cables are available everywhere. The USB specifications don't mandate a length limit, but for conventional cables, USB 2.0 cables can be up to 5 m except for cables that attach to low-speed devices, which have a 3 m maximum.


Sources for connectors include Acon, Digi-Key, Molex, Newnex, Norcomp, Oupin, TE Connectivity Ltd.

Bulgin Components PLC has a Buccaneer series of environmentally sealed connectors that includes connectors for USB.

Long distance links

With five hubs (the maximum), the host and device can be as far apart as 30 m. Every other hub must be self powered. For example, if the first hub downstream from the host is bus powered, the second hub must be self powered, the third hub can be bus powered, and if so, the fourth hub must be self powered.

If only the host needs to use USB, use an adapter that converts between USB and a longer-distance interface such as RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, or Ethernet.

USB over Cat 5, fiber optic cable, wireless, and a USB Extension ASIC from Icron Technologies.

Optical USB Extension Cables for low- or full-speed connections of up to 46 meters without hubs. From Opticis Co., Ltd.

Accessing USB devices over a network

Hardware options include AnywhereUSB from Digi International (formerly Inside Out Networks) and USB Device Server from Tripp Lite/Keyspan.

Software-only options include USB to Ethernet Connector from Eltima, USB over Network from FabulaTech, Inc., USB Redirector from Incentives Pro, and USB Device Share from SysNucleus.

Isolated USB

Isolating USB by Lane Hauck (EDN).

ADUM4160 full/low-speed USB digital isolator chip. From Analog Devices.

Optoisolated USB hubs are available from B&B Electronics and Sealevel Systems.

Icron has an IsolatedUSB Design License Agreement (schematics, bill of materials, etc. "based on CPLD technology."

Optical USB Extension Cables from Opticis Co., Ltd.

ESD and overcurrent protection

Techniques for ESD Immunity in USB Devices by Martin Rowe, Test & Measurement World.

Univeral Serial Bus Power Management. Includes tips about limiting EMI. From Micrel.

EMI Design Guidelines for USB Components. From Intel (but available from TI).

From Littlefuse, application notes about ESD and overcurrent protection.

Texas Instruments has the TPS78833 low-dropout regulator with in-rush current control for USB Applications.

High Speed USB Platform Design Guidelines. From Intel.

Improving USB System Reliability With a Transient Suppressor. From Texas Instruments.

Protecting USB Ports from ESD Damage. From Semtech.