Here's a problem we never used to have in airplanes: Running out of USB ports!
Our new GRT Horizon HXr EFIS has two USB ports. One is used for my Skyradar ADS-B receiver. The other is run to a port in my panel to allow for easy updates.
We wanted to use GRT's awesome Android App that allows you to duplicate the EFIS on a tablet in the back cockpit of our RV-8A. (In fact, this was one of the selling points that tipped us toward GRT.) This meant that we needed to add a little USB Bluetooth transmitter, which plugged neatly into the USB port in the panel. I figured "Well, I can always remove it when I need to do an upgrade..."
Then...two weeks ago GRT added georeferenced moving map sectionals -- a fabulous upgrade -- and the charts reside permanently on a memory stick that plugs into...a USB port.
Yikes -- now what? I'm maxed out!
After speaking with Ben at GRT, he recommended that I install a Startech industrial grade USB hub. This splitter is not cheap, but the Startech is basically militarized and built to withstand virtually anything. That's what I wanted, so I ordered one.
Then...where to put it? It had to be sturdy, but easily accessible, since those charts need to be updated regularly. SO...
Here are some pix of my solution. We had already mounted the old GRT EIS engine monitor (no long needed in the cockpit panel, but necessary for the EFIS to display engine information) on the access panel in the forward luggage compartment. We even made the display readable, in case we ever needed to see it while (for example) working on the engine. Why not simply mount the USB hub on the same panel?
The location works great. I can remove that access panel in less than a minute, making it easy to get at the memory stick. It isn't cluttering up my panel, or taking up any precious real estate behind the panel. The Bluetooth transmitter plugs into the hub as well, clearing the port in my panel. So I now have an empty port in the panel, and one in the hub, good for future needs.
Here's the access panel, installed:
Here's the access panel, removed. The USB hub is stout, and fits very securely in the access panel. It had to be mounted offset as shown, to clear "stuff" behind the panel.
Here's a different view:
I was a bit worried about the range of the Bluetooth transmitter, and whether we would have a good connection to the back cockpit from behind the panel. We tested it today on a two-hour flight, and it worked great.
Here's a bad pic of the Nexus 7, duplicating the EFIS in the back seat of the -8A today:
So there you have it -- who would ever think we'd be running out of USB ports in an airplane?