Now that the 9500ci is out, one issue is how the heck can you easily hook up its USB interface to your home computer since 16 feet is the maximum supported cable length for USB? The obvious solution is to use a laptop computer, yet this is a thorn if you don't have a laptop computer. As far as the 9500i is concerned, if and when USB software for it is available from Escort, how do you power it inside your house so that you can hook it up to your home computer?
Well, here is a possible solution. It is a self-powered USB extender system which uses up to 150 feet of CAT5 cable between its two boxes. Don't run out and buy what I am showing below since I have not tested it yet with my 9500i or with a 9500ci which I don't have. I instead plan to talk one of Escort's engineers and see if they will test it.
Our private astronomical observatory uses USB 2.0 CCD cameras on each of our telescopes. These cameras transmit their data via USB at 480 Mbps. Yet we prefer to keep all of our telescope and camera control computers indoors in a separate climate controlled "control room." Thus we needed a simple and reliable system to connect to the USB CCD cameras at up to 100 feet away. To accomplish this, we use Gefen USB 2.0 Extenders:
USB 2.0 Extender
The above extenders, which work with absolutely any USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 device, are not ideal since the far end box requires a power supply providing 5V at 2A. These units are very expensive too at $699.
Interestingly, the 9500i uses a Silicon Laboratories C8051F326/7 USB chipset. This chipset is a USB 2.0 compliant chipset, yet only allows for full speed (12 Mbps) or low speed (1.5 Mbps) data transmissions. Let us hope that the new 9500ci too uses this same chipset. It makes sense that this same chipset would be used in the 9500ci since Escort has been using the 9500i's USB port to flash 9500i RDs since they were introduced. Note that I need to contact Silicon Labs and confirm if this chipset is also backwards compliant with USB 1.1.
So, the cool thing is that Gefen also makes a Mini USB-2 Extender. Note that this product is somewhat mislabled since it does NOT support the maximum USB 2.0 data transmission rate of 480 Mbps, and is only USB 1.1 compliant. Yet it does support the same full speed (12 Mbps) or low speed (1.5 Mbps) data transmissions just like the C8051F326/7 USB chipset. The other beauties are that the Gefen Mini USB-2 Extender costs only $199, does not need any type of external power sources, and allows connections to any USB 1.1 compatible device which is located up to 150 feet away from a computer. Here is the link for the Gefen Mini USB-2 Extender:
Mini USB-2 extender
So, I am hoping to get Escort to test if the relative cheap and self-powered Gefen Mini USB-2 Extender will work with their 9500ci and with the 9500i.
Anyway, just food for thought for all of you new 9500ci owners.