Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars using active usb leads with mobile broadband dongles, 4 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: World of Data� 5m USB 2.0 Active Repeater Extension Cable - Premium Quality - High Speed
Having seen variable reports of using broadband dongles with usb extension leads I was wary about trying one. The vendor of this one was very helpful but reported 'pot luck' as to whether ANY USB lead worked with a mobile broadband dongle.

I took a chance and ordered one of these, plus the 'startech' one also offered by amazon.

I figured I couldnt be unlucky twice.

Startech never responded to my pre-sales email.

I'd never used a mobile broadband dongle before, but being a retired IT tech and a radio ham my feedback to the Vendor was said to be worth repeating here for others as a general guide. Herewith my letter to the vendor. Maybe others will find it informative.

OH....as reported elsewhere, the lead supplied was black, without the 'lump' partway along it. Because the repeater is now inside the socket end of the lead. Vendor needs to change that pic. Its a good quality lead though.

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Hello Lee

As you're reading this it shows that my T-mobile dongle is working. Their coverage map of the holiday area turned out to be pessimistic as I can use it indoors, no problem, even just plugged into the side of the laptop.

That done, I did experiment with extension leads and came to the following conclusions after I had first put the dongle direct into the laptop and let its install routine run.

(1) Your lead works

(2) The Startech lead works.

(3) the 1m passive lead I have for my edimax wifi dongle works (it has a hemisphere at the end so the dongle stands up vertically

(4) The variability in results between good quality active leads is, I believe, down to a fundamental lack of understanding by users who have no experience about siting radio aerials....so thats everybody except radio hams and TV aerial installers then, and I'm not all that sure about some TV installers :-)

As with wifi, moving the aerial position just an inch or so can (in less than 100% signal areas) take you from max signal to no signal at all.

As with wifi, signal distribution is affected by nearby objects....especially moving ones. ie people.

As with wifi aerials, the dongle reception is best if the dongle is NOT lying on a surface or hanging right next to a wall....although hanging it about 30mm away from a wall with some bacofoil taped to the wall boosts reception in one direction.....AND reduces interference from the other. Works with wifi too.

As best I can tell, usb leads are not fully screened. This will undoubtedly mean that the radio signal from the dongle gets onto the lead and effectively makes an aerial out of it. With the dongle some distance away I can alter signal strength by grabbing hold of the lead, or moving it about, even though the dongle doesnt move. It also means the lead picks up interference...see later.

If the received signal is poor, even people moving around the room can cause dropouts in the signal.

For people who's dongle received signal is desperately poor there is no substitute for getting the dongle as high as possible AND getting it outside if possible. Getting it in the clear outside dramatically reduces the variability of received signal as well as increasing the strength too.

I've never used an active USB lead before, and the first time I plugged one (yours) into the laptop there was a noticeable period of time before win7 announced that the usb device was ready to use. Subsequent times (yours and the startech one) the delay was virtually zero, presumably because it already 'knew' how to handle the active device.

The point I'm coming to is if the uninitiated plug in their broadband dongle while windows is getting its brain around the usb repeater driver then it wont 'see' the dongle at all.

You are possibly familiar with the clip-on ferrite chokes that TDK and others market. I would not expect them to be designed for wifi frequencies, or broadband dongles, but if the long lead pickup was causing a problem they would be worth trying. One at each end.

A lot of household devices radiate radio waves. If you have a 5m long unscreened lead, its bound to pick some up. Mobile phones, DECT phones, microwave ovens, all kinds of stuff. Some mobile phone battery chargers generate HUGE amounts of radio interference, as does any cheap switch-mode PSU in a computer, printer, laptop. Normally they're not going to be relevant, but if your dongle is struggling to get a signal they may be.

Having a broadband dongle sticking out of a laptop is a bad idea. As your hands move around they are going to affect the surrounding radio fields. I've got mine on the 1m passive lead from my edimax wifi dongle. Cheap & cheerful....I can recommend edimax wifi dongles btw .....and it gets the dongle a metre away from my arms flailing around while I'm typing.

So, in summary Lee, your lead (the black one) works for me. All things being equal they should work for others providing they understand the fundamental principle of operation of broadband dongles with regard to consistency of received signal.
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If, like me, you buy one just for use on holiday, check the area coverage maps of the providers to make sure you will have some kind of signal.

If people need to get a broadband dongle outside and in the clear at a holiday location, consider getting a fibreglass fishing rod blank when you get a 5m USB lead. You can get 5m ones for about £7 and they telescope down to about 750mm length. Poke it out of the window, or tape it to the side of the caravan/balcony rail. A bit heath-robinson but lightweight and cheap....cover the dongle in a plastic bag to keep the rain off.
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