Building a DIY Powered USB Hub for using an RTL-SDR on a Raspberry Pi

One problem that sometimes arises when using embedded single board computers like the Raspberry Pi is that they often cannot provide enough current to power devices through the USB port.

Over on YouTube user KD9 BVO wanted to use his RTL-SDR with a Raspberry Pi, but found that the Raspberry Pi shut down whenever he plugged it in, due to it using too much current. To get around this problem he decided to build a DIY powered USB hub. This solution allows the RTL-SDR to be powered via the hub itself, rather than through the Raspberry Pi USB port.

In the video he takes an existing unpowered hub and shows how to modify it to provide power directly to the RTL-SDR via an external power supply.

[Bits #4] How to DIY a Powered USB Hub

4 comments

  1. AD5NL

    I’m currently using RTL-SDR.com dongle on a Raspberry Pi 2B, and it’s fine.

    With that said though, I think it would help to extend my battery life if I “outsourced” the power for the dongle to a special battery. So I will look into this.

    I’ve been working on a satellite tracker similar in concept to the one that was shown on this blog a couple weeks ago, but using the Raspberry Pi instead of an arduino (as I happened to have the Pi sitting around idle). My software is not as fancy as Paul’s (I am feeding output from Predict to some bash scripts I wrote to translate the angles into servo movements). The downside of the Pi is higher current usage and also jittery servos (because the Pi doesn’t really do PWM correctly, at least using ServoBlaster and not a special hat like AdaFruit sells). But it can be self-contained… hoping to get to a point where I can track and record NOAA and ISS passes without the need of a laptop.

  2. SkipF

    I’m using a SIMPLE ‘Y’ cable with a USB>uUSB adapter in the PI.
    The USB RX plugs into the USB connector, external POWER goes into
    the female UUSB connector, and the MALE uUSB connector plugs into
    theMale USB>FemaleuUSB adapter. I got the cable on Amazon.

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