USB printer cable max length?

By phkhgh ยท 9 replies
Oct 7, 2008
  1. What is simplest solution for connecting 2 PCs to one printer where wireless isn't an option?
    Wondering about max length of USB printer cables, if ran around perimeter of room and if an A/B switch is definitely necessary?

    Have and HP 5100 series printer - wired w/ A/B USB cable to desktop - sits beside printer.
    A wireless upgrade kit is avail, but fairly expensive & read lots of users have problems.

    Wife's wireless laptop sits across small office from printer. Usually, she unplugs the cable from my desktop at the printer & plugs another cable from printer to laptop.

    She doesn't use the printer daily by any means.

  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Tip: USB Power Limitations

    USB Guides

    I did post somewhere the max limitation length of the USB cable, but can't find it !! (the post that is)
  3. tengeta

    tengeta TS Enthusiast Posts: 612

    USB Extenders can be chained up to 96 ft with no signal loss, then you can use a 15 ft passive cable to connect the printer. That comes out to what, 111 ft total? Hope you don't have to go around too many things. In personal experience, I've chained 32 feet in extenders and used a 15 ft passive cable on it. Keep in mind that the max chaining of extenders without power loss is 6, so these are 16 ft extenders I used.

    And USB's abilities are generally overhyped, so I wouldn't push the max unless you really need to.
  4. phkhgh

    phkhgh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 70

    tengeta, I guess you mean "active" usb cable extenders, w/ a signal booster?

    You plug the active cable into the computer, then a passive (if used) into the printer?

    I think about 30 ft would do it.

    What about needing an A/B sw for the 2 computers or can late models (HP) spool print jobs like that? Is there such a thing as a splitter / combiner to connect 2 PCs to one printer w/o an A/B switch?
  5. tengeta

    tengeta TS Enthusiast Posts: 612

    Yeah, I did mean active, I missed that rather important detail. Anyways, you'd be better off connecting it to one PC all the time and share the printer over your network. If your printer has two ports of connection it should work on multiple machines though, so if there's a parallel port or Ethernet you can hook it up to both machines at the same time. Sounds risky but I've done it with early model printers that had both Parallel/USB ports and they worked with no problem.

    As for splitting or combining USB, I have no idea about that field of play. Possibly using a USB hub backwards, like plugging the port you would put the PC in into the printer instead, then all the PC's you want to connect to it through the device ports. I wouldn't just try that though, thats one I haven't tried myself and I have no idea of the risks involved.
  6. phkhgh

    phkhgh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 70

    Found out my HP C5180 has an ethernet port as well as USB.

    Here's a link to HP's descrip / diagram of connecting multiple PCs to printer "to an ethernet router, switch or wireless router."
    Their diagram looks like wired network printer connection is using same router that's connected to modem / internet.

    Both computers are already on home network for internet, but not printer (obviously).

    QUESTION: Are they talking about a completely separate router from one used for internet access (I use Netgear WPN824)?

    Or, once install correct software / settings on ea computer for printing via network, can I use a port from the Netgear to the HP? Read several articles from their site - not too specific.
  7. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

  8. phkhgh

    phkhgh TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 70

    Thanks kimsland,

    Yeeesss, you are not incorrect, Sir! Huh? What I mean is, no, not talking USB anymore.

    Thanks for links. The diag you posted of network is same as I saw on HP's site. Yes, I mentioned my HP has ethernet port.

    I was able to get my desktop (XP) (wired) printing over the network.
    I used HP's setup prgm to add new printer on Network conn (after deleting USB printer shown in Printers & Faxes).

    Their (downloaded) driver & software installation pkg takes a LONG time to "process / verify" before get to setup screen to add printer. It didn't install any new drivers, AFAIK.

    ?? Maybe just using Windows Add Device Wizard thru Printers / Faxes would work as well & faster, since the HP software is already installed.??

    Hopefully, setting up the Vista laptop's wireless printer conn over network will go as easy.
  9. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    No the Auto Detection will automatically find the Shared Printer then set it up (with your existing Drivers)

    Whereas the Manual install "Add Printer" you may need to search your network
    But either one or the other :)
    I prefer auto, because if the drivers are not installed and you cannot locate the shared network printer, it just puts everything right. But whatever!
  10. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 228

    Chaining USB Repeaters, despite tengeta's experience, is not something that we recommend at all to our clients. I have seen problems simply chaining two 16-foot repeaters with one 15 passive cable. The device had random intermittent problems on a regular basis. If you need to go more than thirty feet, use a different medium.
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