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Old 10-04-2012, 08:29 AM   #1
Rad Miflex
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CardBus 2.0 USB freezes - hardware problem ?


Hello,

I have two older notebooks, both with just a single USB 1.1 port.
From time to time I have to connect more than one USB device, so I thought I'll buy one of these cardbus PCMCIA adapters which fit inside the PCMCIA port and provide 2 USB ports without anything sticking out from the notebook.
Well, today I bought "noname" adapter, I believe it is AKE BC168 card which should be supported by linux. Unfortunately it doesn't work.

The first machine, quite old Gericom branded laptop, Tualatin 1.4GHz with a SiS 630 based (chipset + graphics) motherboard.
It has two systems installed, 6.0 Debian 32 (which I barely use) and frequently updated Debian 7 which is my main O/S now.
It does not boot when the card is inserted, if I insert it while the O/S is already running, it either ignores that completely (lspcmcia shows only the cardbus interface, syslog is quiet) or freezes.

The other notebook is a bit newer, I don't remember the full specs but it's an old Toshiba running P4 2.0 on Intel-based board.
It's running Ubuntu 12.04.
It reacts differently - as soon as I put the card in the slot, the machine immediately freezes, nothing seems to be working, it doesn't react to keyboard (the caps lock/num lock light does not react), mouse, the screen is frozen (I can tell that by watching the clock).
However as soon as I remove the card, the machine comes back to life.
Just for test I found my old PCMCIA ethernet adapter, put it in both machines and it was immediately recognized and listed in lspcmcia output.

The main question is: could a "not supported" PCMCIA card cause system to crash/freeze, or was I just unlucky to buy a broken one ?

Here is a photo of my card: http://i.imgur.com/HK6O1.png
Perhaps someone knows if it requires external power all the time, or only if I plug in power hungry devices ? I thought it will come with manual but all I had in the package was the card and cable.
 
Old 10-05-2012, 08:24 AM   #2
business_kid
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My first reaction to that would be that it sounds like something is being held low electronically, which points to dodgy hardware. I would insert it once more in both machines, remove it and run 'dmesg |tail', as that might reveal something.

I'd go the money back route with that card, if it's an option. I have the same problem (too few usb ports) and bought a 4:1 hub in a 2 shop (everything cost 2). I never looked back, except I had to buy a second one because my son "borrowed" it.
 
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:35 AM   #3
Rad Miflex
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The first laptop crashes, so there is no option to check anything in the logs. It only reacts to power down (pressing the pwr button for 4 seconds), otherwise it's completely frozen.
I tried with the second one, nothing is written to the syslog and dmesg, it's kind of funny because the system does not even notice that the hardware stops for a while.
I'm going to try on another machine tomorrow just to be sure.
I already talked to the seller, he said there's no problem replacing the card if it's broken.
It is one of the cheapest models, I paid around 5$.

I prefer a card like this over the USB hub, it fits nicely inside the PCMCIA port: http://i.imgur.com/0Jm2y.png

Last edited by Rad Miflex; 10-05-2012 at 11:40 AM.
 
Old 01-02-2013, 09:44 AM   #4
Rad Miflex
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Hello again,

Even though the card was cheap, the seller replaced it twice and eventually after the 3rd card was still bad, I got my money back.
The first card was not working at all, the second one worked fine maybe for two weeks but eventually broke, probably due to excess heat produced.
It had no problems under Linux, so at least some of those cheap cards are supported. The seller told me that even though they look the same, the actual hardware/chip inside might be different.
Then after a while I got third one, which again didn't work at all, so after I got my money back, I decided to buy USB 2.0 HUB (which also has problem under Linux ).
 
Old 01-02-2013, 12:47 PM   #5
business_kid
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I'm beginning to think too much current is being drawn. The current limit is 100mA. Certainly sounds like that. The port switches off for a while. What have you plugged into it? Piles of high power LEDS? You're not powering something off it, are you?
 
Old 01-02-2013, 02:18 PM   #6
Rad Miflex
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Actually the card (the one which worked for a while) was getting extremely hot even without anything connected to it.
Anyway I think it's load limit is way higher than 100mA, it comes with (optional) external +5V power source.
 
  


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