Suggestions for using the RxZero as a portable media server

Hi, So far I have been doing testing on the RxZero boards (4gb RAM /32gb eMMC / 128gb in uSD) and they seem to hold pretty well as a media server. No issues sharing or streaming media from the eMMC or the uSD.

The problem starts when I connect storage over the USB-C port. I have a compact USB3.0 hub that has a separate micro-usb connector for additional power, so I can connect 4 USB3.0 thumb drives with 256GB (233GB usable) each and have 931GB of available storage total (equivalent to a 1tb external SSD drive but with 1/5 of the power consumption) but I always get I/O errors and disconnects when trying to stream movies, or reading different files at the same time. It also gets very hot very quickly. I don’t have such problems with another USB3.0 hub I have. The problem with that is the other hub is a desktop one, and is clunkier. My aim is to have this setup as portable and small as possible.

So does anyone have suggestions on a compact USB3.0 hub that has a separate connector for external power, that has good performance?

The compact hub I am using and has issues, is this:

The other hub that doesn’t have issues, is this:

As you can see, the one that doesn’t have issues is not a top-shelf part, so I know I can find something good that is not expensive.

Any suggestions?

USB 3.0 hubs always will be problematic because 4 device shares 5gbps speed. I bought this hub but can not tried with radxa zero (not delivered yet).

I use these for my Raspberry Pi Zeros.

For the Radxa you can use this adapter to convert from micro USB to the USB C.

I have not tried any external storage except a 128GB Sandisk Flash drive to move some files over. I cannot say if there will be conflicts if you have multiple drives attached. However given that with any hub they are all having to use the same port at the Zero board they would have to compete for bandwidth across the same bus.

Another brand of the same type of USB splitter that I also have one of is below. I have one of each and they both work the same. I have only had both for about 2 months, so I can’t exactly speak to how they will hold up over time, but they work fine for what I use them for.

Added Note: I will say that I have noticed that the Radxa Zero does not seem to like USB3 hubs. I have a USB 3.0 4 port hub with an ethernet port that I used directly to the Radxa Zero and I got all kinds of errors. But I plugged the same USB 3.0 hub to this USB 2.0 splitter and those errors went away. BUT for data transfer and media streaming the drop to USB 2.0 speeds may cause and issue on a media server.

Thanks for the suggestion. Looking forward to know about your tests with this hub.

Thanks for the reply. The media streaming will mostly be audio, so I believe a USB 2.0 hub might be enough. I am actually upgrading my portable media server from a raspberry pi zero, and the experience with the RPI zero was good, but I only was able to use the files through smb shared folders, and access them through VLC or other media player in the client side that can navigate smb shared folders. With the upgrade to the RxZero, I was hoping to go from simple samba shares into a media server app like ampache or Plex for music and videos, and a calibre server instead of pre-rendered webpages for ebook download. The problem with that is always RAM. While the single core of the raspberry pi zero is capable of serving the media, just firing up the calibre server eats up all the ram and it crashes. With the RxZero I have no problem running calibre server, which takes 1.2gb of RAM. The I/O errors I got were from Ampache trying to build the music databases from the connected thumb drives. But if I tried to stream directly from samba shares in the RxZero, or if I use the other USB hub I have then I get no errors.

I’ll see if I have any USB 2.0 hub lying around and do some testing.