Can the USBDroid be used to connect to other USB Devices?

The USBDroid provides USB Host functionality for use as an Android peripheral as an Open Android Development Kit board. [Product page]
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Jez_A
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Can the USBDroid be used to connect to other USB Devices?

Post by Jez_A » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:19 am

Hi,

I am a beginner in the Arduino world, so please accept my apologies if this has already been answered else where. My question is whether the USBDroid can be used to connect to other USB devices and control them, rather than just Android devices.

For example:
I have an old Microsoft USB Fingerprint reader that I no longer use, after switching to a Mac platform. Would the USBDroid be able to interface with this device and allow me to control it, and read data from it?

Any advice/thoughts would be greatly appreciated...

Cheers
Jez

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jonoxer
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Re: Can the USBDroid be used to connect to other USB Devices

Post by jonoxer » Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:29 am

Hey Jez, as a *general* statement: yes. However, I don't think the fingerprint reader will be feasible.

The USBDroid was developed specifically to interface with Android devices, but it uses a general-purpose USB host controller chip so it can be used for far more than that. Assuming there is software support available you could plug in a USB keyboarrd, or a memory stick, or whatever, and have the USBDroid act as a host for it.

However, and this is the big caveat, many USB devices are dumber than you may expect. Often they just act as a fancy adapter, passing semi-raw data back to the host for it to do all the hard work. A classic example is cheap USB wifi dongles: they have no smarts in them at all, just a radio and some interface circuitry. The "driver" that you install on your PC to work with it is what does all the real work, so you can't just plug a USB wifi dongle into, say, a USBDroid and have cheap wifi.

Fingerprint readers are the same. The ones I've worked with are either dumb cameras or a simple capacitive sensor, sending raw data back to the host just like a webcam. It's up to the driver on the PC to process the image data and analyse it for features (called "minutiae") to compare to other records on file and look for a match.

Short answer: you could get the fingerprint scanner to enumerate when plugged into a USBDroid and probably get some metadata from it, but you'd really be struggling to get any useful fingerprint info out of it.
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Jon

Jez_A
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Re: Can the USBDroid be used to connect to other USB Devices

Post by Jez_A » Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:48 am

Hi Jon,

Thank you for such comprehensive reply. I'm still keen to see if I can get any meaningful data from this device.

I'll look to invest in either a USBDroid or a USB shield and see where it takes me. I have dismantled the fingerprint reader to see if it hold any clues as to it operation. As yet I have not found any information online regarding the components or the two connectors on the board. The device is manufactured by digitalPersona, but there seems to be very little information concerning the Microsoft badged device.

Once I've figured out how to include photos in my posts I'll upload the images I've taken to see if anyone has any pointers....

Thanks again for your assistance.

Jez

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jonoxer
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Re: Can the USBDroid be used to connect to other USB Devices

Post by jonoxer » Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:49 am

I'm glad you didn't let my reply put you off: I really hope you make some progress because it would be an extremely cool project if it turns out to be feasible. I sincerely hope I'm wrong about it, and if you get it working I'll probably follow your steps to do the same!

Regarding attaching pics to posts, the forum is set to prevent new members putting up attachments until they've made at least 3 posts. After your next post you should be able to add images.
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Jon

Jez_A
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Re: Can the USBDroid be used to connect to other USB Devices

Post by Jez_A » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:59 am

Hi Jon,

I've ordered a USB Host Shield, as I already have a Freetronics "Eleven" and an "EtherTen", and hopefully it will be with me in couple of business days? Whilst I'm waiting I think I'll read up on the USB library to get a better understanding of the protocols used etc...

Thanks for the support and for the great Freetronics products...

Cheers
Jez

LukeW
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Re: Can the USBDroid be used to connect to other USB Devices

Post by LukeW » Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:43 pm

Would it be possible to use the USBDroid to interface to a standard USB flash memory disk, say for a datalogging project?

Maybe that would be a really interesting and popular "alternative" application of the USBDroid that I'm sure many people in the community would be interested in.

ninja2
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Re: Can the USBDroid be used to connect to other USB Devices

Post by ninja2 » Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:19 am

The USBDroid has a slot for a microSD card which can do exactly what you want (datalogging) so there is no need for a USB memory stick.

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