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I have searched this site and many others looking for a way to "split" or mirror data from an USB device (bar code scanner) to two computers. We need to do a parallel cut-over from a legacy asset management system (whose interface, at each loading dock, is a LAN connected PC with an USB bar code scanner) to a Web application using a laptop with the same USB scanner.

Years ago I designed a RS-232 serial port Y cable that allowed the SMDR data from a PBX to go to both a data capture serial port on a computer and another device by utilizing signal diodes on each device transmit lead.The PBX transmit lead was split to each device's receive lead.

Not anticipating the firmware/software/timing and control logic involved, I thought all I needed to do was match a pair of diodes that would block the computers from sending or receiving data from each other, as I had done before. I've tried biasing the signal diodes with the T+ of each computer USB, to no avail. USB is much more technologically complex.

All the research I have read, so far, leads me to believe that I would have to design a "black box" which would interface between the scanner and the two computers. The box would look like a computer (host) to the scanner, a scanner to each computer, and thereby spoofing each component.

I hope that I’ll be able to find someone with a workable solution to this question.

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closed as off-topic by Leon Heller, Chetan Bhargava, Daniel Grillo, JYelton, Nick Alexeev Feb 6 '14 at 21:31

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions on the use of electronic devices are off-topic as this site is intended specifically for questions on electronics design." – Leon Heller, Chetan Bhargava, Daniel Grillo, Nick Alexeev
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ These scanners are often little more than serial-over-USB, though proprietary devices exist too ... If the device is used as a simplex serial device, it can be reasonably straightforward to split the serial signal into two or more channels using a PC as a USB host (where you plug in the scanner) that echoes the datastreams to two serial out ports (which can be UART-USB converters) then convert it back to USB using a UART-USB converters and plugging into the target PC. Requires a bit of luck (simple logic serial interface), a handful UART-USB converters and a bit of fiddling. \$\endgroup\$ – jippie Feb 6 '14 at 20:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can also get RS232 barcode scanners, with which the same Y cable will work. \$\endgroup\$ – pjc50 Feb 6 '14 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ My question has been put on hold as off topic by Leon Heller, Chetan Bhargava, Daniel Grillo, JYelton, Nick Alexeev, et al for this specific reason: "Questions on the use of electronic devices are off-topic as this site is intended specifically for questions on electronics design." \$\endgroup\$ – user36783 Feb 7 '14 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ My question has been put on hold as off topic by Leon Heller, Chetan Bhargava, Daniel Grillo, JYelton, Nick Alexeev, et al for this specific reason: "Questions on the use of electronic devices are off-topic as this site is intended specifically for questions on electronics design." Yet my question clearly states that I'm looking for a design equivalent to a RS-232 Y cable, for an USB solution. By use, do they mean difficult and daunting design? Hmmm. \$\endgroup\$ – user36783 Feb 7 '14 at 17:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Many thanks to jippie and pjc50 for their informative comments. I have ordered the RS-232 cable option for our scanners as a plan C. Not nearly as nice a solution, so we're still looking to design an USB cable. \$\endgroup\$ – user36783 Feb 7 '14 at 17:33
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If you want to have your USB attached scanner to be used either by one computer or by the another one, then you can connect it to a small embedded system running USBIP, and then connect to that device via network from the currently used computer.

It can be done e.g. using the USB equipped wireless access point with reflashed OpenWRT firmware, like described here.

It is not possible to use that scanner simultaneously from both computers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your input wzab. We do, however, require simultaneous scans to each computer (plan A) or simultaneous scans to each application in the same computer (plan B)s owe can run the legacy application simultaneously with the new WEB based app. Great suggestion and did learn from it, so, thanks again! \$\endgroup\$ – user36783 Feb 7 '14 at 16:53

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