USB

Interfacing a Retro Controller using the USBASP

An ISP dongle is a very common piece of equipment on a maker’s bench. However, its potential as a hackable device is generally overlooked. The USBASP has an ATmeg8L at its heart and [Robson] decided that this humble USB device could be used as an interface between his PC and a SNES Joypad.

A SNES controller required three pins to communicate with a host: clock, data and latch. In his hack, [Robson] connects the controller to the ISP interface…

How to Record Netgear Arlo Pro Video to a USB Drive

Netgear’s Arlo Pro camera system saves all recorded video to the cloud, but if you want local copies of those same recordings, here’s how to connect an external USB drive to your Arlo Pro system.

Keep in mind, that this new method for recording videos won’t stop the videos from saving to the cloud. Instead, connecting an external drive for local storage is merely a backup method, as the videos will save to both formats. However, if your internet connection goes out, videos will continue to save to your local storage, since the cloud will be unavailable at that point. So it’s definitely something you should set up on your Arlo Pro system.

To get started, you’ll first need a USB storage device, like a flash drive or an external hard drive. Since the Arlo Pro system relies on the FAT32 formatting system, the max storage size is 2TB. So if you have a 4TB external drive, it will only use 2TB of the space.

When ready, plug your USB storage device into one of…

How to Diagnose the “USB Device Not Recognized” Error in Windows

Windows is designed to be almost universal in its support of PC accessories, particularly USB-based add-ons like external hard drives, flash drives, game controllers, webcams, microphones, and other peripherals. Most things work out-of-the-box thanks to pre-loaded drivers, but occasionally a gadget will still give you the dreaded “USB device not recognized” error.

There are a lot of different ways that this problem can manifest, and unfortunately Windows still isn’t very good at actually telling users how to solve it. Here are the most common issues and—in at least some cases—how to fix them.

You Might Be Missing Drivers for the Device

Starting with Windows Vista, the operating system loads thousands of generic and specific drivers at the time of its installation, and adds new drivers for detected hardware periodically through Windows Update. So if the gadget you’re plugging in to your computer is simple enough, or it comes from a major manufacturer like Logitech, it should work right away or after a quick, semi-automatic download.

If it doesn’t, it might mean that your device isn’t covered by Microsoft’s generic built-in drivers or the larger database of drivers on the Windows Update servers. That means you’ll need to download the necessary drivers from the manufacturer’s website.

Most drivers should install just like any other Windows program. If that doesn’t work, though, read on.

Your Computer Might Be Using Incorrect or Outdated Drivers

As handy as Windows’ automatic driver detection is, it isn’t perfect. Sometimes it matches the wrong driver with the device, or the device hardware has been updated by the manufacturer to the point where the original driver is no longer applicable. If the installed drivers or ones downloaded from the manufacturer’s site on the web aren’t working, you’ll need to manually select the device and driver using Device Manager.

Open the Start menu and type “Device Manager”. Select the…

Razer’s Blade Stealth gets a classy new finish and a bigger display

Razer’s Blade Stealth gets a classy new finish and a bigger display

Razer’s Blade laptops have always been classier than the typical gaming fare, but the green accents and RGB lights still weren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Fret no more: Razer now has an honest-to-goodness professional-looking laptop in the latest update to the Blade Stealth, while also addressing some of the biggest pain points with the previous models.

I suspect the new Gunmetal color is going to work wonders for getting people to consider the Blade Stealth over Dell, HP, or Microsoft’s offerings. It looks quite sleek, doing away with the neon green USB ports and logo in favor of dark grey. While I still don’t like Razer’s logo, the metal-on-metal look looks infinitely classier than the l33t h4x0rz glowing-green-on-pitch black of its predecessors.

The keyboard is also plain white instead of RGB, which is a bit more of a questionable decision. You could always just turn the keyboard white if you preferred it in Razer’s Chroma software; it could have been a nice differentiator from the competition. Still, I imagine not too many people will mind.

Colors and finishes aside, Razer default display option shaves down the bezels to increase the screen size from 12.5-inches to 13.3-inches without making the chassis larger….

Want Fast Charging? Don’t Use Your Car’s USB Ports

If you have a relatively new car, it probably has a USB port in the dashboard, glove box, or center console. So naturally, you should just use them to charge your devices, right? Not so fast: if you want speedy charging, those built-in ports just don’t cut it.

Unfortunately, the built-in ports in your car are pretty anemic when it comes to amperage. As we discussed in detail in our guide to choosing a USB charging station for your home, amperage is king. The lower the amperage, the longer it takes to charge a device (and the more difficult it is to maintain a charge if the device is in use). The higher the amperage, the faster you can charge your device (and keep it topped off while using it).

The problem with built-in automotive ports is that they don’t deliver enough juice to keep modern power-hungry phones, tablets, and other devices on and charging. We measured multiple vehicles with a USB voltage/amperage meter and found that the data port in the dash (commonly used to hook up a USB drive or phone to play music) offered a very weak 0.5A output. While that’s enough to power up your USB drive full of MP3s, it’s barely enough to trickle charge an iPhone and maintain the current battery level—if you’re using the phone for navigation, a notorious battery hog, it’s…

JeVois Machine Vision Camera Nails Demo Mode

JeVois is a small, open-source, smart machine vision camera that was funded on Kickstarter in early 2017. I backed it because cameras that embed machine vision elements are steadily growing more capable, and JeVois boasts an impressive range of features. It runs embedded Linux and can process video at high frame rates using OpenCV algorithms. It can run standalone, or as a USB camera streaming raw or pre-processed video to a host computer for further action. In either case it can communicate to (and be controlled by) other devices via serial port.

But none of that is what really struck me about the camera when I received my unit. What really stood out was the demo mode. The team behind JeVois nailed an effective demo mode for a complex device. That didn’t happen by accident, and the results are worth sharing.

The Importance of a Good Demo

When it comes to complex systems, a good demo mode is essentially an elevator pitch for the unit’s capabilities. To a user, it answers “what can this do, and what possibilities does it open for me?”

The JeVois camera’s demo mode succeeded in this by doing several things:

  1. Make the demo self-contained and easy to start. Require a minimum of parts or setup from the user to get started. After putting the system image onto the included SD card, I only needed to plug it in to my laptop and start a camera viewer.
  2. Make it interactive. Respond to user input immediately, and show the processes at work as much as possible.
  3. Keep it simple. The demo isn’t the device’s one and only opportunity to explain everything! Leave the user free to focus on absorbing what is being shown; avoid bogging the user down with figuring out an interface or troubleshooting issues.

Demo mode on hardware is frequently an afterthought if it exists at all, but it deserves attention and polish if for no other reason than it is the one element of a product that it is virtually certain every user will engage with.

Setup and Demo of JeVois

I had to copy a system image to the micro SD card to ensure I had the latest…

How to Use Mulitple External Monitors With Your Laptop

Multiple monitors are awesome. They really are—ask anyone who’s used a two- or three-screen setup for their desktop, and they’ll tell you that they have a hard time going back to just one. Laptops have a built-in advantage here, since they have one screen: to boost productivity, just add a monitor.

But what if you want more than one screen hooked up to your notebook at once? What if your laptop lacks a bunch of external video ports? What if you’re travelling, and you can’t lug around a full-sized monitor? Don’t worry, you still have more options than you might think.

The Ideal Solution for Newer Laptops: Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt 3, which uses the new USB Type-C connector standard, is the newest way for laptops and tablets to output video. The advantages are obvious: a single cable can handle video, audio, standard data transmission (for external hard drives or a wired Internet connection) and power, all at the same time. Not only does this reduce clutter on your desk—assuming you have the hardware to take advantage of it, of course—it means laptops can be made smaller and thinner by consolidating ports.

So, if you have a laptop with Thunderbolt 3 and a Thunderbolt-capable monitor, this is by far the best solution. You can just hook up each monitor to one Thunderbolt/USB-C port.

However, it’s rarely that simple. Unless you have a very new laptop and very new monitors, you’ll probably need a bit more to make this work:

  • If you have a laptop with multiple Thunderbolt/USB-C ports but older monitors that don’t have Thunderbolt input, you’ll need some sort of adapter for each monitor, like this USB-C to HDMI or this USB-C to DVI adapter. Remember, you’ll need one adapter for each monitor you’re connecting.
  • If your laptop only has one Thunderbolt/USB-C port, you’ll likely need some sort of docking station to connect two monitors to one port. We recommend checking out this Dell Thunderbolt Dock, though there are others out there as well. Note that some laptops, like the small one-port MacBook, do not support running multiple displays from one port using these docks, so check your laptop’s specifications, and if you’re going to try a dock, buy from a store with a good return policy in case it doesn’t work.

Thunderbolt has a massive amount of video bandwidth, and it’s more that capable of supporting multiple standard monitors (the new Macbook Pros can output to two 5K displays at once, so long as you have the right adapters). Specialized adapters—basically mini-laptop docks—are designed for the purpose of regular docking to a multi-monitor setup with mice, keyboard, and other connections.

Once USB-C and Thunderbolt become more common on laptops and…

Five Things You Should Do Before Selling Your Android Phone

Selling your old phone should be a simple, straightforward process. And really, for the most part, it is—if you know all the proper steps. If you don’t, fret not—we’ve got you covered.

You may already know that you’ll need to factory reset the phone, but that’s actually the last thing you should do before selling. There are a handful of things that you’ll need to do first, most of which can’t be done after the fact, so it’s important to get them done before the reset. Let’s dig in.

Step One: Back Up, Back Up, Back Up

First, you’re going to want to back up all of your important data. That means pictures and videos, documents and downloads, even call logs and texts if that stuff is important to you. Fortunately, there are fairly easy ways to do all of this.

If you’re looking to back up all of your photos and videos, you should most definitely be using Google Photos, which automatically backs up everything to your Google account. You can then access all of this stuff on the web. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t back everything up in its original resolution unless you pay for a premium plan—it uses a sort of “smart” compression algorithm to keep the backed up files looking as good as possible (and it does an excellent job). The only exception to this rule is the Google Pixel, which gets unlimited backups at original resolution for free.

We already have an excellent primer on getting up and running with Google Photos, so I recommend checking that out. The only other thing worth mentioning here is that very large videos may have a hard time uploading to photos, so you may want to pull those manually using a USB cable.

The same goes for documents and downloads—if you have important files saved to your phone, you can plug your phone up to the computer and pull the files over USB to store them on your computer. Alternatively, you can also upload these files to Google Drive, Dropbox, or any other cloud storage platform you use. This way, you have access to all these files regardless of what platform you’re on.

Lastly, let’s talk about call logs and text messages. Some users want to keep this stuff for future reference, which is fine. There are actually a number of options…

Anker’s New Battery Pack Is One of the First With USB-C Power Delivery

Ever since laptops and game consoles started launching with USB-C charging, the promise to effectively infinite battery life with the help of USB battery packs has been tantalizingly close, and yet so far away.

While just about any battery pack can trickle charge an Apple MacBook or a Nintendo Switch while they aren’t in use, very few include the USB-C Power Delivery standard that enables full speed charging. But Anker’s looking to change that with the new PowerCore+ 26800, the latest iteration of your favorite line of USB battery packs.

This massive battery pack’s USB-C port can output up to 30W at four different…

You’re Going to Lose it Over Thursday’s Amazon Deals

As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, April 27.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

GADGETS

[Upgraded] Anker 2-Port 24W USB Wall Charger PowerPort 2 with PowerIQ for iPhone 7 / 6s / Plus, iPad Air 2 / mini 3, Galaxy S Series, Note Series, LG, Nexus, HTC and More for $12.49 (list price $29.99)

Saimly Earbuds, In-Ear Metal Earphones, Stereo Bass Headphones with Mic (Black) for $29.99 (list price $35.99)

ALLPOWERS 18V 5W Portable Solar Car Battery Charger Bundle with Cigarette Lighter Plug, Battery Charging Clip Line, Suction Cups & Manual for $19.99 (list price $49.99)

Seneo PA014 Fast Wireless Charger 2 Coils QI Wireless Charging Stand(Sleep-Friendly) – No AC Adapter for $19.95 (list price $49.99)

Solar Charger,Dizaul 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank Waterproof/Shockproof/Dustproof Dual USB Battery Bank for cell phone,iPhone,Samsung,Android phones,Windows phones,GoPro Camera,GPS and More for $14.99 (list price $24.99)

D-FantiX Battery Tester, Universal Battery Checker for AA AAA C D 9V 1.5V Button Cell Batteries (Model: BT-168) for $6.99 (list price $9.99)

Bluetooth Headphones, Hussar Magicbuds Best Wireless Sports Earphones with Mic, IPX7 Waterproof, HD Sound with Bass, Noise Cancelling, Secure Fit, Up to 9 Hours of Play for iPhone Android (Upgraded) for $29.99 (list price $169.99)

Kindle Paperwhite Essentials Bundle including Kindle Paperwhite 6″ E-Reader, Black with Special Offers, Amazon Leather Cover – Onyx Black, and Power Adapter for $159.97 (list price $179.97)

Cowin E-7 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Over-ear Stereo Headphones – Black for $69.99 (list price $99.99)

DOSS Touch Wireless Bluetooth V4.0 Portable Speaker with HD Sound and Bass (Black) for $32.99 (list price $89.99)

Micro USB Cables (2-Pack 3.3ft) Rampow Nylon Braided Samsung usb cable/charging cords for Android Devices, Galaxy, Sony, Motorola and More – Space Grey for $8.49 (list price $22.99)

Portable Chargers RAVPower External Battery Pack 16750mAh 4.5A Dual USB Output External Phone Charger Battery Bank Power Bank (iSmart 2.0 Technology) – Black for $26.99 (list price $99.99)

SanDisk Ultra 64GB microSDXC UHS-I Card with Adapter, Grey/Red, Standard Packaging (SDSQUNC-064G-GN6MA) for $21.99 (list price $39.99)

OldShark Full HD 1080P Dash Cam 170 Degree Wide Angle 3 Inch Dashboard Camera Vehicle Recorder Support G-Sensor, Night Vision, WDR, Parking Guard, Loop Recording 32GB SD Card Included for $58.99 (list price $89.99)

Serenilite Hand Therapy Stress Ball – Kiwi for $10.99 (list price $17.99)

KITCHEN

Popcorn Maker for Microwave – Green – Silicone Popcorn Popper – Collapsible Bowl with Lid – FDA approved BPA Free – Save on Hot Air and Machine Popcorn Popper – Cook Healthy Popcorn from Kernels for $15.99 (list price $49.99)

Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid Food Storage Container, BPA-Free Plastic, 6-Piece Set for $6.18 (list price $8.02)

OXO Good Grips Nylon Potato Masher for Non-Stick Cookware for $6.99 (list price $9.59)
Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid Food Storage Container, BPA-Free Plastic, 6-Piece Set for $6.18 (list price $8.02)

Bellemain Stainless Steel 6-Pc. Measuring Spoon Set with D-Ring Holder, for Dry and Liquid Ingredients for $5.95 (list price $12.95)

DBKay Light Up LED Lightsaber Chopsticks Set, 2 Pairs – Red, Blue Battaries Included for $16.99 (list price $39.95)

The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers for $12.01 (list price $19.95)

Lodge L9OG3 Cast Iron Round Griddle, Pre-Seasoned, 10.5-inch for $14.29 (list price $24.00)

Heat Changing Constellation Mug by The Unemployed Philosophers Guild – Stars Appear in the Night Sky on this Color Changing Coffee Cup – 10 OZ – BPA Free Ceramic – Comes in a Fun Colorful Gift Box for $13.95 (list price $16.95)

Lifewit Height Adjustable Pan Pot Oraganizer Rack, 5-Tier Kitchenware Cookware Holder Hanger Shelves Kitchen Cabinet Worktop Countertop Storage Solutions, Stainless Steel for $19.99 (list price $49.99)

6 Reusable K-Cups – Refillable Stainless Mesh Coffee Filter Pod for Keurig 2.0 and 1.0 Machines by STYDDI for $10.99 (list price $19.99)

Homeleader Smart Stick 3-Speed Hand Blender, 4-In-1 Multifunctional Food Processor,…