Fun with a USB Hub

Discussion in 'Gen 4 Prius Audio and Electronics' started by Dngrsone, Jul 10, 2020.

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  1. Dngrsone

    Dngrsone Underwhelmed, to say the least

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    I have a 2016 Prius 2. I am one of those weirdos who actually likes to keep their music on a USB drive, rather than use the 'cloud' or streaming, or whatever...

    Now, one thing I like about the Prius (well, this one; the '08 didn't do USB drives) is that it can handle a 128GB USB 3.0 drive with no issues. So, I have my drive plugged in all the time, and I am afraid that the little cover is going to be broken (because that's happened on previous cars), and there are time when I need to switch drives because the spouse is in the car (different tastes in music).

    Therefore, I decided to perform an experiment: let's see how the car will handle a USB hub!

    Since it was an experiment (a techsperiment!), I didn't want to spend too much money on a hub, so I went for a cheap-nice person USB 2.0 hub with four individually switched ports (cute, but not necessary).

    The first thing I tried was plugging my 128GB USB 3.0 drive into the hub (which was plugged into the port for the car). No worky. Then I plugged a 16GB USB drive in, and the radio recognized that. Turns out, the hub can't handle a 128GB USB 3.0 drive (verified this with the laptop). I got what I paid for.

    What I discovered though, is that the hub works fine with 2.0 flash drives, and the car can see multiple drives! I am kinda short on 2.0 drives, (as in, I have only two), so when I select the Sources page, I can see the two separate drives as individual icons. This makes things simpler (in the long run--I have to get a better hub first) because I can simply switch sources without having to shuffle drives around.
     
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  2. alanclarkeau

    alanclarkeau Senior Member

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    I went looking for a 2 port - but all I could find were four port hubs. Somewhere in the documentation for PRIUS, it says it will only use 2 ports, no matter how many on the hub.
     
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  3. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    That’s correct. The manual states it can recognise up to two USBs for music.
     
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  4. Dngrsone

    Dngrsone Underwhelmed, to say the least

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    Ah. Well thank you for that! I might have discovered that had I more than a couple drives, hah.

    Right now, the plan is to get a 12v powered hub with a few smart charger ports and bury it. Two ports accessible for the two USB drives I will have for the stereo (possibly buried in the center console), one of the smart charge ports for the wireless charger for my phone, and another for a dashcam which is on my wishlist. Perhaps a third port accessible by the passenger for charging...
     
  5. Dngrsone

    Dngrsone Underwhelmed, to say the least

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    So, I may have gone a little overboard in my choice of hubs...


    This hub has four USB 3.0 ports and three smart charger ports. All individually switched. As already mentioned, the stereo will recognize two USB drives. Plug in a third and it will be ignored. Unplugging one of the two recognized drives will not cause the radio to look for and recognize the third one, so trying to use any more than two ports for USB drives just makes for work.

    My wireless charger runs perfectly fine off the USB ports, so the smart charge is really only necessary if I want to plug in a phone for a quick charge. I now have a dedicated charging port in the back, likely will put another on the passenger side.


    If I feel like doing some fancy wiring, I could disassemble the hub and run remote switches so I could power off the wireless charger, for instance or take USB drives offline without unplugging them, and put the LEDs where I could see them.

    The interesting thing about the Aux port itself is that it has a built-in sense line that tells the stereo when an Aux cord is plugged in. You can get a fairly cheap USB/Aux port with appropriate plugs at the other end if you don't mind the stereo thinking there is an aux cord plugged in all the time, but where's the fun in that? Therefore, if I want to preserve the existing USB/Aux port in the center console, then I need to get a second one and some cabling. This is easier said than done without hitting a bunch of wreck-yards looking for a gen 4 with intact interior.

    One can get a replacement port for upwards of $80 new pretty much anywhere, or a used module starting in the upper thirties plus shipping via eBay. Cabling is harder to come by. The best I could do from eBay was a used port with the connector and some six or eight inches of cable attached, salvaged from a Toyota in the UK, total shipped would have been somewhere in the neighborhood of $41

    With that said, however, you can get an USB/Aux port for a RAV4 (with different graphic on the cover) for less, and cabling is cheaper as well, as long as you are willing to buy via AliBaba

    Again, there is the hard way, and the easy way-- the easy way is to spend a little more money for a port, stock cable to the stereo and an USB port keeper adapter. The cheap way involves buying some cheaper cables to re-purpose, maybe disassemble a connector or two, and doing some splice work.

    Right now, the USB/Aux port will go under the console, and I will put a dual USB port in its place (the fit is not perfect :/ ) and later I will decide on how to restore the port to its rightful place. I will lop off the end of the 12v charger and splice it into the fuse splitter I already have in place to power the wireless charger (the 12v to 5v USB converter will go into the spouse's truck for their wireless charger)
     
  6. Dngrsone

    Dngrsone Underwhelmed, to say the least

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    So, the 12v cable I am using to power the hub is a tad short. So is the USB-C cable going to the phone charger, hah!

    I am going to (at some point) replace the USB-C cable with a 10ft version which should give me a little flexibility there... right now, plugged into a USB3 port, the charger is not getting enough juice. I rather suspect that part of the problem is my wiring job, though it could also be due to me splitting the Accessories tap to both the Dashcam and the USB hub. Probably the former. Hooking the charger to a smart charge port fixes it, though; if only I had a long enough cable...

    At any rate, I am going to (sooner, rather than later) rewire my tap so I have a little more latitude in arranging the kit under the center console. See my Dashcam post for a picture of the fusebox and the handy empty spot for the fuse tap!