Pandaboard extra USB

Probably you already know that the Pandaboard provides two extra USB ports through connector J6 (pin 1 to 8). You probably also know about the nice article in the elinux wiki on how to easily use those (http://elinux.org/Panda_How_to_add_2_USBs) extra ports. I found that article after soldering a female header on my Pandaboard expansion ports. It looked like a good idea at that time because I had lots of male-male jumpers, however that prevented me to follow the neat elinux wiki approach to use the extra USB ports.

So, before changing the headers I tried a couple of alternatives to use the ports. The first one was to solder an USB connector together with a pin header into a piece of perforated prototype board. Amazingly the thingy worked pretty well. Here is a picture

Pandaboard Expansion Header USB. Try 01Pandaboard Expansion Header USB. Try 01

I connected a webcam for testing. I thought that in case something was wrong in the adaptor I would see artefacts in the image easily. Not sure if that makes any sense because the adaptor worked like a charm. Anyhow I liked to try something smaller, so I solder the connector directly to 4 pins. The result was this.

Pandaboard Expansion Header USB. Try 02 adaptorPandaboard Expansion Header USB. Try 02 adaptor

I tried my best to solder the pins, but you can see that the plastic piece that keeps the pins together couldn't avoid my iron. It really tried but I finally prevailed :). Anyhow, I soldered the pins to the USB connector, then I removed the black plastic piece to put a bit of heat shrink tubing to hide my poor solder skills :). After that I put back the small black plastic piece. (Note: You can put a new black plastic piece and then pretend you soldering skills are superior :)

Again, the think worked OK with my webcam. This is how this adaptor looks like plugged in the Pandaboard.

Pandaboard Expansion Header USB. Try 02 Installed on expansion headerPandaboard Expansion Header USB. Try 02 Installed on expansion header

Even when it worked OK the whole assembly is pretty weak so you have to be careful when plugging something there. My intention is to use something like this for devices that will be permanently attached to the board, for instance an internal USB drive.

So I did a last try. I just blended the USB side of this last adaptor so the connector will lay horizontal to the board allowing me to fit inside the box whatever thing I want to connect there (as I said that would probably be a USB stick). Honestly, I didn't expect this to work, but it did. Here is how it looks like in the Pandaboard.

Pandaboard Expansion Header USB. Try 03 Installed on expansion headerPandaboard Expansion Header USB. Try 03 Installed on expansion header

It is basically the first try without the piece of prototype board, so the header connector does not get blocked.

So, summing up. The two extra USB ports in the Pandaboard expansion header work great and are very handy. They are pretty robust working even with my poor hand-made adaptors. For real stuff, you better use male pins in the header and use a proper connector as proposed on the elinux wiki. That will make the whole think more robust.

cheers
The picoFlamingo Team