Observations of Flex-1500 on USB3

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  • Updated 4 years ago
Ok. To all Flex 1500 users. There has been a question of USB ports posted at various times. To get Flex-1500 to work it needs at least USB2 on its own hub, preferably plugged into a composite USB port with nothing else on that hub.
  To get it to work at its best with the best sound both in and out, put it on a USB3 port. I have used it on USB2 and it performs ok. USB3 allow the rig to run at its best, the end result is better sound on recieve and on transmit. Less lag in receive and transmit. On the waterfall stations that can be barely heard but do not show on waterfall do show up on USB3.
 I have both USB2 and USB3 onboard in my Gateway PC so testing each with the exact same system was easy. Having used both I can say there is a definite performance increase using the Flex-1500 on a USB3 port.
  The reason for some issues is that be it USB 1 2 or3 they each run only as fast as the slowest device on that hub. There are depending on the board 2-4 usb hubs, with 2 or more ports on a hub. 4 ports with a USB mouse, keyboard, and another device, plus your Flex1500 is going to slow system enough to make the rig perform mediocre at best.
  If you have back ports, use them for components, keyboard, mouse and such. If you have front ports plug rig in there by itself it will help, but still depending on board may not be the best for good performance from your radio.
  This is where USB3 comes in. It allows the rig to run at its best, with no degradation of performance caused by slower devices. A USB3 add on card if your PC only has USB2 is 20-30 dollars. Trust me its worth it.
 
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Jeff Gray

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Posted 4 years ago

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Marc Hessel

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OK Jeff i picked up a  USB 3.0 Expansion PCMCIA Express Card 2-Port Laptop, it's an Alienware Laptop, is there a specific 3.0 cable i need to also get?, I see if the 2.0 USB cable you will only get 2.0 speeds...Thanks ...
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Jeff Gray

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Use the one that came with the rig. It wont operate at USB3 speeds but the radio will run at its top speed without slowing down. USB 2 will slow to slowest device causing radio to not operate at its best. Also goto control panel. Click on device manager. Right click on the usb hubs and then properties. click power management tab, then remove check from the box next to allow computer to put this to sleep. That will help as well.
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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You are only going to get USB2.0 speeds because the Flex1500 is a USB2.0 device.    Plugging a USB2.0 device into a USB3.0 port does not glean USB3.0 speeds or vice versa.   You are only going to get as fast as the lowest speed device in the chain.
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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Dang... it gets worse! :-)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Or better.  You don't need a USB 3.0 port ;-)
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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I always assumed it was a 2.0 - just shows you that sometimes it does pay to read the specs!  
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Jeff Gray

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What I had posted was not intended to start an argument. It was for most out there who do not have the knowledge of windows to find out if their radio is a solo device on a hub. Because most computers have 4-6 usb2 ports and most of those will be filled with devices that will slow the hubs down. I mentioned USB3 for several reasons. ! a user can make sure his rig is standalone running as fast as it was designed for. 2 It wont suffer a slow down from other devices plugged in to it. 3 Provides an extra port for whatever new device they may get that runs USB3.
   On my system with the radio plugged in to a USB2 on a hub by itself it still didn`t run as well as it does plugged into the USB3 even if it does only use the USB2 part of the port. Amid my tinkering I also found it helps if in the device manager in control panel that the USB hubs are set so the computer cannot put them to sleep.
 These are observations. Hints to speed things up. My computer has 4 USB2 ports 3 of which are used for slower devices. I had unplugged several and set radio on a USB2 hub by itself. Some improvement, I suspect the bus speed has something to do with it. So I plugged them back in. Then put my radio into a USB3 port. I was quite surprised about the difference. It worked noticeably better even if it is only using the USB2 part of that port.Again ,probably a difference in bus speed. Enough so that I was able to adjust the buffers to smaller values. With a few more adjustments I had it set up and it worked better than it ever had before.
  Amidst all of the tweaking, tinkering and such, I was happy there was a default setup with which to start over from when it was screwed up. I spent months trying to maximize performance. even some small tweaks made a huge difference. 
 Noticed was less noise from computer. Also noticed was lag was decreased considerably.
 For higher end systems than mine may not be an issue, but this is what it took for mine.
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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No argument intended or started Jeff - I just wanted to clarify that purchasing a dedicated USB3.0 card would offer no advantage to the 1500 over a dedicated USB2.0 card (or indeed a USB1.1 card if you could find one).    Of course there is no harm in having a USB3.0 port available for future peripheral acquisition.  

(Edited)
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Jeff Gray

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USB3 uses different architecture. It will not slow all the ports on the hub to the slowest device like USB2 hubs do. I never claimed you will get a Flex 1500 to perform at usb3 speed. I did say it will operate at its max without suffering the data speed degradation it has being plugged into a usb2 hub with other devices.
  Now if you can isolate the rig and put it on a usb2 hub BY ITSELF, then it will run max speeds. Problem is most computers do not label which ports are on what hub. Most computers have multiple hubs with with at least 2 ports on each hub. Plug in several devices and the speeds slow down.
 My suggestion makes it simple. No trying to figure out what is plugged into what hub. Is rig the only one on that hub? Are other devices slowing it down?
  Some will have enough computer knowledge to figure out what hub each usb port is on and put the radio on a separate hub by its self, allowing to run at its best. Other users wont know how to do that and my solution is simple. It also allows for the user to add newer USB 3 devices without the rig slowing them down.
 
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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USB 3.0 ports have dual wiring - isolating the broadcast level USB2.0 from the USB3.0.   So plugging a USB2.0 device into the USB3.0 port will utilize the USB2.0 wiring and broadcast level communication method.

The USB3.0 port still has connections to the internal USB2.0 hubs - and normally each USB3.0 will be connected to a different USB2.0 hub - so if you can isolate a USB2.0 device to an individual USB3.0 port and have that device the only device on the USB2.0 hub then you will get max throughput.   But this same process works when plugging a USB2.0 device into a USB2.0 port and isolating to a single USB2.0 hub.

A USB3.0 cable has front row of four pins for the USB 1.x/2.0 backwards compatibility, and a second row of five pins for the new USB 3.0 connectivity.   The Flex1500 has only the row of four pins for USB1.1 (corrected - thanks Tim!).

To determine which hub your device is connected to:

Open Device Manager, and click View -> Devices By Connection. Open up the "ACPI" devices, and then there should be a PCI Bus device under that. All of the USB Host Controllers should be under there. Try plugging the device(s) into different ports and see which Host Controller it appears in. Sometimes a Host Controller won't appear until there is something plugged into it.

This is a snapshot from my development workstation....

(Edited)
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Marc Hessel

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           Just throwing this out there is it possible to run the USB from the 1500 to 6 pin Firewire on my computer? any compatibility issues or just will not work?..Thanks
Marc Hessel 
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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No it is not possible
(Edited)
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Interesting... I didn't realize the 1500 was a USB Full Speed device.  Thanks Tim.

Not to split hairs, but in an attempt to debunk an oft-repeated myth that "a USB hub slows down to the speed of the slowest device on that hub":

It actually depends on the hub itself whether this is true or not.  USB 1.1 (the highest speed variant of which is USB Full Speed) is translated to USB 2.0 (the highest speed variant of which is USB High Speed) in a hub using something called a Transaction Translator (or TT for short).  This can be either in hardware or firmware.

Some USB hubs have only one TT.  In this case, all the bandwidth on that hub goes through the TT.

There are numerous hubs that have one TT per port.  If you want to Google to find one, just Google for "Multi-TT hub" -- These will *not* limit the bandwidth on the entire hub when you plug in a lower speed device.

The *best* thing you can do, always, for any device is to plug your device directly into a root hub port. This is true even if you have to use a long USB cable (assuming you can adequately control the RFI issues, of course).  There will be at least two such ports on any computer with at least two USB 2.0 ports.  If you have many USB 2.0 ports on your computer, you'll need to determine (using trial and error and Device Manager as was shown previously) which are your root ports.

Hope that helps...