Tag Archives: USB

A review of four Switch-mode Buck (Step-down) converters with USB ports

While designing a project that required 5v USB power ports from a much higher voltage source (eg. 12v or 24v), it occurred to me that there are circuits already designed to do this. In fact, not only do they exist as low-cost, easy-to-purchase modules, but some of them already have the USB port soldered onto the board.

4-step-down-buck-usb-converters

Four Step-down converters with USB ports were picked out and reviewed in an attempt to find “the best cheap USB switch-mode step-down converter” for 12v power supplies.

Continue reading A review of four Switch-mode Buck (Step-down) converters with USB ports

Mini LED USB stick review

“Whoa. What are these?”, I said to myself. And as I looked them over, I realized that what I was holding was essentially just an LED soldered onto a little USB stick. “How useful!”

Mini-LED-USB-sticks-sidesSuch a simple concept with such a multitude of purposes.

  • Plug it into the side of your laptop for some additional light.
  • Attach one to a portable USB battery pack for an emergency flash light.
  • Plug one or two into the side of a USB power outlet for an ad-hoc nightlight.
  • Put one on the end of a USB extension cable and snake it into a hard to light spot.

And the nice part is that you can get a 4 or 5 pack of them for less than $10.

Let’s see how they perform!

Continue reading Mini LED USB stick review

The Best external HDD for the Nintendo Wii U is a 120GB SSD!

Updated 05/26/2016: If you are one of the 12 million Nintendo Wii U owners out there, chances are that you know how awesome the Wii U truly is. As you may recall with the regular Wii, there were the larger games found on disc and online shopping known as “WiiWare” that you could download. Because this downloadable content was rather small, it didn’t really take up much space on the internal memory system. And if you really needed more storage, there was always the SD card slot. No big deal.

black-n-white-wii-uWith the Wii U, there are two models:

  • The white model with 8GB of internal flash storage
  • The black model with 32GB of internal flash storage

By today’s standards, both sizes are rather paltry. And now that it is possible to download full games directly to the Wii U, it is quite easy to fill up the internal memory. (Xenoblade Chronicles X… Super Smash Brothers… etc…)

What to do… What to do…

Continue reading The Best external HDD for the Nintendo Wii U is a 120GB SSD!

The portable LED USB multimeter (that you didn’t know you needed)

Update 08/01/2016: If you’re looking for full-size multimeters with USB support. There’s a new article on budget DMMs. Of which 2 DMMs have USB data connection support.

The USB port is one of those things in the 21st century that provides the necessary “lifeblood” (electricity) to charge and re-charge all of our fancy cellphones and gadgets. Yet rarely in this process is there a good way to know that things are going well in the power transfer process. Maybe you’ve experienced plugging in your phone to charge and yet for some reason it doesn’t appear to take a charge or perhaps it’s just charging too slowly. And how does one figure out what to do about this? Surely, there is a little gizmo that can help us out here!

four-usb-volt-meters

And sure enough, there is. In fact, there’s more than just one. There’s a whole bunch of them. They go by the names “charger doctor”, “USB detector”, “USB meter”, and even “USB power monitor”. At the end of the day, they’re mostly just digital multimeters designed for the USB port, but what they do is insightful!

And the best part is that they sell for under $15.

Continue reading The portable LED USB multimeter (that you didn’t know you needed)

Adding a 1TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim HDD to my Wii U (or: How I hacked a USB 2.0 cable.)

The last article I wrote about was a review of 1TB portable USB 3.0 hard drives. During this review, I tested each drive with a variety of computers and other devices that had USB ports, including my Nintendo Wii and Wii U consoles. Part of this review was trying to answer the question of “Which is the best hard drive for the Nintendo Wii U?” — which I couldn’t definitively answer. I found that all of these slim 1TB drives worked just fine with the old Nintendo Wii (the previous generation console), but only 1 of them worked with the Wii U (the most current Nintendo console.)

wii-u+some-hard-driveWell, I should say that only 1 of the drives almost worked with the Wii U. That is, until I figured out a clever hack to get it to work reliably.

Continue reading Adding a 1TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim HDD to my Wii U (or: How I hacked a USB 2.0 cable.)

Which portable USB 3.0 SD / MicroSD card reader is the best?

After reviewing the whole SanDisk SD card line-up recently, it seems obvious that we all need to move more and more data around, faster and faster. So how to choose which SD card reader for getting pictures and videos off our cameras?

Looking on Amazon.com reveals a whole mess of USB 3.0 SD card readers. Some as cheap as $5, others are more expensive costing $10 and $15. But how do you really know what you’re getting? The average Amazon.com review isn’t all that comprehensive.

Three USB 3.0 SD card readers were picked from the pile (all around $10), put under the microscope, and then a bunch of SD cards were thrown at them to see what happened. Surprisingly, each SD reader had its own advantages and disadvantages with no clear winner. Choosing which one will come down to personal preference, mostly.

Continue reading Which portable USB 3.0 SD / MicroSD card reader is the best?

Review: Leef Supra 3.0 USB flash drive -vs- The 633x Lexar MicroSDHC card

When reviewing the Top 16GB USB flash drives under $20 of 2014, it was observed that the ever-tiny Leef Supra 3.0 was surprisingly fast for such a small thing. This warranted a closer comparison to something like a Lexar 633x MicroSDHC card (with USB 3.0 Lexar reader) which was a tad larger, but overall, pretty close to the same size. In addition to this, a generic USB 2.0 MicroSD card reader was thrown in for contrast.

LexarUSB3-vs-LeefSupra3
Lexar USB 3.0 MicroSD reader, Leef Supra 3.0 16GB, and USB 2.0 MicroSD reader

The nagging question was “How does the Leef stack up to the competition?”

Continue reading Review: Leef Supra 3.0 USB flash drive -vs- The 633x Lexar MicroSDHC card