Using USB Peripherals
Technology 4
Summer 2007
Nebo Elementary School
Instructor: Mr. Michaud

Definition of USB:

USB means "Universal Serial Bus."  A "Bus" is a means of connecting different peices of hardware to a computer system.  "Universal" means the hardware devices will use one type of hardware connection.  "Serial" means these devices can connect in a series and you can have multiple devices connected through one port.  (Like a string of Christmas Lights all working off one plug in the wall.) 

The USB port provides both the connection and a small amount of electricty to run a device.  The primary advantage of the USB system lies in the fact that you only need one type of cable and port to connect many different types of devices.  These devices can work on many different computing platforms.

Plug and Play:  Most Windows XP systems will automatically detect a new peice of hardware when it is plugged into the USB port.  At this point XP will search out the correct "drivers" (little programs) that allow the hardware to talk to the computer.  When using a new device - make note in the directions whether the "drivers" are located on a CD ROM that came with the device.  Sometimes you need to install these drivers before you plug in the device to the computer.

Devices Automatically Detected
  • Most USB Drives
  • Most Digital Cameras
  • External Hard Drives
Devices that need Drivers Installed First
  • Some brands of Kodak Easyshare Cameras
  • Panasonic Video Camera
  • Scanners

We will cover how to connect the following USB devices:
USB Memory Device (Flash Memory)
  • Use flash based memory to store data
  • Plug into USB (Universal Serial Bus) Ports on Computer
  • Do not use batteries
  • 1 Gigabyte = about 800 floppy disks
  • Can work many computers
    • Windows
    • Mac OSX
    • Linux
  • Can store all types of data

1 Gig USB Flash Drive

The advantage to USB storage vs. using a CD ROM or CD RW is that the USB can be used multiple times like an external hard drive.  CD's should be used to archive data that will not be changed over time or to transfer very large files (greater than 200 MB). 

Computer Help: Many times I have found people using CD ROMS to transfer small file types (Word Documents, PowerPoints . . .) less than 500 KB.  This wastes a lot of space on the CD ROM (like using a tractor trailer to deliver a postcard).  USB Flash devices provide more efficient platform for transfering data between computers. 

Remember: A CD ROM holds 700 MB of data:
  • 80 minutes of music
  • Or about 14,000 average size Microsoft Word Documents
  • Or about 700 pictures

How to use USB Thumb Drives:
How to safely Remove your USB Drive:
What is U3?

Some newer and larger USB Thumb drives (above 2 GB) use a technology called U3.  U3 tends to work well with most Windows based computers.  However, with some of the school machines the U3 drives show up as a "CD ROM" when the drivers install and then assign two drive letters to the thumb drive (E and F).  This creates a challenge because the F drive sometimes is obscured by the network drives.  You will need to use "Computer Management" to reassign drive letters to access the data.  I tend to avoid U3 drives because they are not as compatible with other platforms like OSX and Linux. 

USB Digital Camera Connections:

In Technology 2 we covered how to connect and transfer photographs from a camera to a computer.  In review - most computers will "see" a digital camera as an external hard drive and assign it a drive letter (Usually E:\ or F:\).  You than can copy (drag and drop) picture files from the camera to the computer.

Computer Help:  The file system on a Camera Card typically has a folder called "DCIM."  Inside this folder will be another folder labelled with the model number of the camera.  It is within this folder you will find your picture files.  If the memory card in the camera was used in several different cameras, you may need to navigate from directory to directory to find your pictures.

Transfering Pictures:  Windows XP has a wizard that prompts you to transfer the pictures.  If you choose to use this wizard, note where the picture files are saved. Usually they will in the "My Pictures" folder in your "My Documents" folder.  I prefer to directly transfer the pictures.

USB Scanner

Most scanners can use the Windows "Camera and Scanner" Wizard to take you through the process of scanning a picture. 

Scanning a picture:
1. Lay the item to be scanned on the scanner.
2. Double Click "My Computer"
3. Select "Camera and Scanner" Wizard
4. Select the "Preview" Button.
5. The scanner will scan the object.
6. In the preview pane, you will see a scanned image. Use the drag points (corners) to crop the picture to the area you with to scan.
7. Click "Next"
8. Type a name for your scanned picture
9. Select where you want the file to go. 
a. Click "Browse"
b. Navigate to the Directory where you will same the picture (Usually "My Pictures" in "My Documents.")
10. Click "Next"
11. Scanner will scan the picture.  Click "Finish."