Question Scalding Hot USB

Apr 28, 2022
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Hey! Bit of an issue, hope you can help.

I've been having an issue with my Windows 10 PC telling me a USB port has disconnected intermittently, for about half a year. I always assumed it was some driver issue but I've only just discovered my TP Link bluetooth adapter (tiny thing, plugged into the front USB port, right by my power button), was absolutely scalding hot to the touch upon removing it. The troubling thing is, the USB would disconnect then reconnect itself, so I don't even know if it completely shut itself down to cool off the many times I've had the USB error message. I think the USB port crashed dozens and dozens of times.
I don't so much care about the adapter but I'm concerned that the repeated reheating of it could have damaged the port itself, or the surrounding components. The port looks in tact and it's working okay right now but should I expect the port to fail or anything?

Thanks :)
 
Apr 28, 2022
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Is the overcurrent thing something that goes beyond the device getting scalding hot and the USB port disabling itself for a moment?
 
Is the overcurrent thing something that goes beyond the device getting scalding hot and the USB port disabling itself for a moment?
Higher current will cause electronics to heat up, motherboards typically have some sort of protection mechanism to prevent this. Otherwise I can see a smaller dongle like that getting really hot due to a high power density.
 
Reactions: John Chesterfield
Apr 28, 2022
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Higher current will cause electronics to heat up, motherboards typically have some sort of protection mechanism to prevent this. Otherwise I can see a smaller dongle like that getting really hot due to a high power density.
Should the motherboard have cut the power to the dongle before it became scalding? I've been using my mouse and keyboard on both the front ports to test them - things seem to be working okay. I just worry because the dongle seemed hot enough to melt something, or at least burn my skin.
 
Apr 28, 2022
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If you relocate this dongle to another port, does the heat issue follow?

If you plug another USB device into this suspect port, does it get hot?
I discarded the device while ago, unfortunately. The mouse/keyboard USB connector isn't hot in the slightest when plugged into the suspect port.

I suppose if the port was damaged in any way, it just wouldn't work? It would annoy me if any damage voided my warranty, as the PC is new.
 
Should the motherboard have cut the power to the dongle before it became scalding? I've been using my mouse and keyboard on both the front ports to test them - things seem to be working okay. I just worry because the dongle seemed hot enough to melt something, or at least burn my skin.
Temperature doesn't matter as long as the current running through the USB port is within the limit. For instance, I have an Xbox wireless receiver and that thing gets really toasty for some reason, but it doesn't trigger any overcurrent protection and every port it's been in still works fine.

I suppose if the port was damaged in any way, it just wouldn't work? It would annoy me if any damage voided my warranty, as the PC is new.
Either it won't work, or it'll start having unexplained issues.

EDIT: Another thing to consider, there's a post on the Electronics Stack Exchange about a 10W resistor (probably a through-hole one) getting hot enough to be scalding: https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/266824/why-is-10w-resistor-getting-hot-with-only-6-5w-running-through-it

Assuming most of the power was going into a chip of some sort and the only metal it had much contact with to dump heat into was the USB shield, then that could explain why it got so hot.
 
Apr 28, 2022
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So long as other devices plugged there aren't getting hot, and you are no longer experiencing the frequent disconnects it would likely be assumable that the issue was with the dongle.
Exactly my thinking!

Temperature doesn't matter as long as the current running through the USB port is within the limit. For instance, I have an Xbox wireless receiver and that thing gets really toasty for some reason, but it doesn't trigger any overcurrent protection and every port it's been in still works fine.


Either it won't work, or it'll start having unexplained issues.

EDIT: Another thing to consider, there's a post on the Electronics Stack Exchange about a 10W resistor (probably a through-hole one) getting hot enough to be scalding: https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/266824/why-is-10w-resistor-getting-hot-with-only-6-5w-running-through-it

Assuming most of the power was going into a chip of some sort and the only metal it had much contact with to dump heat into was the USB shield, then that could explain why it got so hot.
Interesting. I've had some hot running devices in the past, nothing quite like this though. I'm pretty sure I've had the same thing happen to an Xbox dongle myself in the past also.

The overcurrent protection in place as standard on mobos, does it generally cut the power to the USB port prior to reaching an unacceptable current, or after? I'm guessing that whatever happened, the power was cut to the USB way before it could melt anything. At least that's what I'd hope! I wonder how consistent the safety measure is too; would it always trigger without fail?
 
The overcurrent protection in place as standard on mobos, does it generally cut the power to the USB port prior to reaching an unacceptable current, or after? I'm guessing that whatever happened, the power was cut to the USB way before it could melt anything. At least that's what I'd hope! I wonder how consistent the safety measure is too; would it always trigger without fail?
Overcurrent protection (OCP) generally kicks in after the current has exceeded a value for a short amount of time (usually milliseconds). And while OCP should be fine for moderate amounts of excessive current, I wouldn't rely on it constantly. If OCP is constantly triggering, there's a problem with the hardware and it should be resolved.

Probably not the best analogy to use, but it's like a gun's safety is not a reason at all to ignore safe gun handling practices.
 
Apr 28, 2022
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Overcurrent protection (OCP) generally kicks in after the current has exceeded a value for a short amount of time (usually milliseconds). And while OCP should be fine for moderate amounts of excessive current, I wouldn't rely on it constantly. If OCP is constantly triggering, there's a problem with the hardware and it should be resolved.

Probably not the best analogy to use, but it's like a gun's safety is not a reason at all to ignore safe gun handling practices.
My estimate is that the OCP triggered upwards of 100 times (over 4 months) before I realised what the issue was and I remove the device. That being said, the port still has power. I was just concerned about premature degradation and I'm not in a position to replace it right now, honestly. You think that the USB port that the device was plugged into is likely to last the full 6-7 years [hopefully] along with the rest of the system? I've learned that I shouldn't ignore USB devices mysteriously disconnecting and reconnecting.

I like the analogy!
 
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My estimate is that the OCP triggered upwards of 100 times (over 4 months) before I realised what the issue was and I remove the device. That being said, the port still has power. I was just concerned about premature degradation and I'm not in a position to replace it right now, honestly. You think that the USB port that the device was plugged into is likely to last the full 6-7 years [hopefully] along with the rest of the system? I've learned that I shouldn't ignore USB devices mysteriously disconnecting and reconnecting.

I like the analogy!
I'm not well versed enough in OCP circuitry design to know if everything it's protecting will be fine even after numerous triggers, but some protection circuitry do contain parts that wear out over time if it needs to work.
 

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