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USB ports dead

I have a Packard Bell iConnect 1700 with a Gigabyte GA-6WMM7 motherboard. One of the rear USB ports has failed, so I would like to use the two on the front panel.  I thought there may be a mobo jumper to enable this so I looked at
http://support.packardbell.com/uk/mypc/index.php?PibItemNr=instr_Houston3plusRrev41_jumpers&PibItemParent=platform_eMove_iConnect#show
but that says "There is support for 4 USB ports on the motherboard, all of which are active at the same time (thus no need for a USB selection jumper). " 

But the two front ports I have are quite dead. Err... where to look next ?
What can cause them to be dead ? (They are connected to the mobo).

I did wonder if there was a BIOS setting but having consulted
http://support.packardbell.com/uk/mypc/index.php?PibItemNr=instr_Houston_bios&PibItemParent=platform_eMove_iConnect#show
I see that I have the only relevant setting (USB function) enabled.

Do I need to start checking voltages at the pins ?  I'm rapidly getting out of my depth here.
SG
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EugeneGardner
Asked:
EugeneGardner
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2 Solutions
 
ridCommented:
Maybe there's a cable running from a mobo connector to the front USB connectors, or rathter, a cable is supposed to be there but has gone missing or something. Check it out.
/RID
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EugeneGardnerAuthor Commented:
Good thought Rid, but I've had that cable off and pushed it back on again.  I don't have  a continuity tester here, but I can't think what else there is to prevent the ports from working.
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bobo_techCommented:
I'm betting that the usb controller has gone kaput.  What I would do then is to buy a usb 2.0 pci card and put it into the system.  Then I would disable the onboard usb from the bios like you already found.

Then that should workaround the problem.  A usb 2.0 card is quite reasonable these days.

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EugeneGardnerAuthor Commented:
I think you're right, a USB2 PCI card would be about £15.  One of the USB ports works fine, the other seems to be constantly making and breaking the circuit causing WinXP to keep popping up a distracting warning balloon on the system tray.  I have been able to disable the port in Device Manager.  Strange that both the front two ports are bad too and in a different way: they are just not seen at all in Device manager.
Eugene.
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bobo_techCommented:
I'm curious about something, do you know if either or any of the ports on the system happen to be phsycally broken?

I once had a motherboard with a borken usb port.  The plastic peice inside the usbport was broken out and it caused the metal contacts to touch other.  Becuase of that, i had wierd errors.  Eventually I poked in there with a needlenose pliers and pulled the remaining pins out.  After that I had no more troubles with weird usb errors in XP (but of course i still had the dead port).
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EugeneGardnerAuthor Commented:
bobo tech, that's a good point.  Doesn't help me get the two front ports malfunction explained but I think you have hit on the reason for the constant make/break contacts on one of the rear ports.  The plastic bit inside seems fine on mine, but the two prongs facing the 4 connectors are a little depressed - so they're probably not pushing the back of the plastic thingy onto the contacts as firmly as they should.  Shame the port is on the back of the mobo and enclosed, so fixing them is not worth the hassle.  Good point though.
Eugene.
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burrcmCommented:
Fair chance that the front ports are not pinned correctly. You must be careful here, as incorrect pinning can destroy peripherals. An example would be - looking at one side only - 1 power (vcc) 2 data+ 3 data- 4 ground. If the data + and - are the wrong way around, the port will not function, but if you connect the power pin to the wrong lead, bad things will happen. The mobo manual should describe the pinouts, but the safer option is the USB2 card suggested by bobo_tech

Chris B
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EugeneGardnerAuthor Commented:
The front USB ports are the dead ones coming off a riser cable. The end of the cable is one solid plug so probably (but not necessarily) correctly wired.  At least the single wire plugs are individually coded to make checking easy.  I think I'll see if I can find a multi-meter to check if there really is +5 or -2 volts at the pins.  It would also confirm continuity of the cable as well.  
Thanks for the comment.
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burrcmCommented:
By all means check your continuity, but the split between Power + - ground, and Power - + ground appears to be about 50 50. Given that the riser cable would have most likely been sold as part of your case, and the mobo would have been a separate item, it remains probable that the order is incorrect. Your solid plug will permit the extraction of the individual leads.

Good luck

Chris B
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