Saturday, 13 May 2017

Preserving Your Survey Gear: Hub Holster

If you carry out wireless survey activities, you’ll be painfully aware how much your precious survey kit cost you. And, I’m pretty sure you want to keep it in pristine, working condition. Here is a great little add-on for your kit that can help preserve your survey laptop and your survey wireless NICs.

The Problem

Yes, I know it’s not fashionable to use the word “problem” anymore, but if you’ve ever been surveying on site and had a passing pedestrian or unexpected filing cabinet damage one of your wireless survey NICs, then you know that it’s a “problem”.

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Fig.1 - This is never going to end well...

When performing on-site surveys to measure Wi-Fi network coverage or performance, there is generally a requirement to have one or more wireless NICS or dongles attached to a survey laptop. These cards gather data to feed into survey software as a survey engineer moves around a coverage area.

However, plugging the cards into the standard USB ports on your laptop can mean that they are protruding from the sides of your laptop, making them fair game for getting bent or ripped out by unseen items of furniture and passers-by. Also, many laptops may not have a sufficient number of USB ports for survey purposes. Many survey engineers have taken the sensible step of getting hold of a USB hub and mounting it on the lid of their survey laptop to keep things out of harm’s way and provide sufficient USB ports for their requirements .

Attaching a USB hub to the laptop can be something of a challenge. Well-known methods include gluing velcro strips onto your survey laptop lid and using wire twists that have been fashioned into a supporting loop. Neither are particularly “robust” over time when used on a frequent basis.   

The Solution

Enter the “Hub Holster” to save the day!

The Hub Holster is a great solution to mitigate issues around securing your USB hub to your survey laptop. It allows USB hub mounting without any of the glue or other damaging attachment methods. It simply clips onto your laptop screen, providing a firm, robust support bracket for a USB hub during surveys.

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Fig. 2 -  A handsome, practical solution for fixing your USB hub

Hub Holsters are produced by Robert Boardman. As each laptop model has slightly different dimensions in terms of screen thickness, bezel size etc., Rob produces a range of his 3D printed brackets for various laptop models and a range of commonly used USB hubs. If you send him the dimensions for your laptop screen he can even print you a custom Hub Holster for your particular laptop (which he did for me!).

I bought a pair of Hub Holsters for my Macbook Pro and my Lenovo laptop and they are excellent.

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Fig. 3 - This is what they look like out of the packet

I personally think the Hub Holster is a very worthwhile investment. No more sagging velcro mounts, no more glue on your laptop lid, no more NICs sticking out at 90 degrees and no more twisty bits of wire to try and hang the hub on your laptop lid. And, far less chance of any damage to your precious survey kit. For more info, please see the links provided below (and order yourself a couple...trust me):

References
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Fig. 4 - One more pic, this time without the dongles