Android v4.0.3 does not work with external USB keyboard

Discussion in 'Android Tablet Q&A' started by Plamen, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. Plamen
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    Plamen Junior Member

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    I've searched and searched, but so far I could not find a solution to my problem. All tips and suggestions will be greatly appreaciated.

    1) Situation: I have just bought on eBay three Android 4.0.3 tablets with normal-size host USB-A sockets and cases with external USB keyboards. The seller claims the keyboards work with the tablets, but they do not actually work and the seller is not providing any technical help or assistence. When the keyboards and the tablets are tested individually they all work properly (the tablets behave and work as expected when switched on; the external USB keyboards, if connected to a Microsoft Windows laptop, also work correctly). But when a keyboard is connected to a tablet they do not work together (when the external USB keyboard is connected to the tablet and the tablet is in input mode expecting text input then typing on the external keyboard does not produce any input on the tablet). I can see that the keyboard appears to be powered from the USB connection because when connecting it its LEDs flash once just like they do when connecting it to a laptop, but the keyboard does not appear to be recognised by the tablet (e.g. when pressing the "Caps Lock" key the corresponding LED does not light up and when typing something on the keyboard it does not apear in the input box on the tablet). I am pretty sure that the problem is not in the current supplied by the USB-A port because I have a special USB cable with external 4 amps power supply (it is a cable, not a self-powerd hub, so it always works in all situations), but even with this cable the keyboards do not work when connected to a tablet. I am also sure that the problem is not in the USB-A socket not being "host" -- it is a host type because if I attach a USB memory stick or an external HDD to the USB-A socket of a tablet they are recognised by the tablet and work properly. If I attach a USB hub to that same USB-A socket then it is not recognised and any memory sticks or HDD attached to the hub are also not recognised and do not work.

    2) Question: is the above situation familiar to you and what can I do to make the tablets recognise the external USB keyboards and receive correctly input from them? Just to re-iterate: (a) it is not the power supplied by the USB-A socket (it can power USB sticks and HDDs therefore it supplies enough current), it is not that the socket is not a host type (it works with memory sticks and HDDs so it is a host type USB socket). It looks like as if the keyboards are not recognised like when a driver is missing, but how come -- Android v4.0.3 surely must have a driver for an external keyboard. The type of the tablets and the keyboards can be seen here (it is also the same seller): 7" 20GB Android 4.0 Allwinner A10 Tablet 1.2GHz Capacitive +Keyboard Case Bundle | eBay

    All suggestions are welcome.

    Thanks for your time and help!

    Plamen
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012
  2. leeshor
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    leeshor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forum Plamen

    Very thorough explanation, thanks for that. I am just a little confused about the keyboard. It sounds as if it requires external power and you have provided it but can't be certain.

    You might want to try restarting your tablet with the keyboard attached just to see if it makes a difference. Generally, a USB keyboard should not be a problem for Android 4.x.

    It's not unusual for a hub not to work. I have seen some people claim they got one to work but more people who never could.
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  3. Frederuco
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    Frederuco Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Have you tried any other keyboards? It could be these ones do not work. I have tried 2 different Dell keyboards (that came with my laptops) as well as a Logitech G15 keyboard. Granted, the special keys on the left for gaming on this did not work, but it worked fine for regular input.
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  4. vampirefo.
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    vampirefo. Senior Member Developer

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    Do you have USB debugging enabled?
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  5. NateTheGreat
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    NateTheGreat Junior Member

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    Are you saying the USB keyboards should work without any changing any settings on the tablets?

    That's not been my experience. I have several ICS tablets and none recognize thumb drives or USB keyboards. What am I doing wrong?
  6. Frederuco
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    Frederuco Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It may depend on the tablet, the firmware and the kernel.

    I have seen major brands (Acer, Asus, Motorola, Samsung, Sony) that have not had these types of issues.
  7. leeshor
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    leeshor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I have to totally agree with Frederuco I have yet to see a USB equipped major manufacturer's tablet that wouldn't see a USB keyboard immediately, or a USB drive of any kind either,. At least no problems on ICS. Prior to ICS, earlier version of Honeycomb had issues with NTFS formatted drives but no problem with a USB keyboard.
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  8. Plamen
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    Plamen Junior Member

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    Thanks for your reply and time -- much appreciated. Here are the answers to your comments:

    1) "It sounds as if it requires external power and you have provided it but can't be certain." Answer: What I said is that the keyboard, when attached to the tablet, appears to be properly powered and it is not the power supplied from the USB-A socket that is likely to be causing the problem -- when I attach the keyboard to the tablet its LEDs blink once, just like they do when I attach it to a laptop (the keyboards work with a laptop, they do not work with a tablet). In addition, in order to dispell any doubts about a possible problem with powering the keyboards from the USB-A socket of the tablet I have used a special USB-to-USB adaptor with an external power supply capable of providing up to 4 amps of current -- such an external power suply normally should not be needed, I only used it to demonstrate to myself that it is not the limited power from the UISB-A socket of the tablet that is causing the problem. When this special adapter with the external power supply is used to connect the keyboards to the tablets the keyboards behave in the same way as when they are connected directly to the tablets without the adaptor. This demonstrated that it is not the power supplied from the USB-A socket that causes the problem, because if it were the power, then using this adapter with its power supply would have resolved the problem or at the very least the keyboards would have behaved differently with it. In addition, using this adapter I can connect to the tablet even very large USB HDDs, which need a lot of power to run, and they all work correctly with the tablet. This demonstrates that the adaptor works correctly and that it supplies the needed power to a USB device attached to the USB-A socket of the tablet. If an HDD works (HDD drain a lot more current than keyboards do) then it is not the power from the USB-A socket that is causing this problem. I am lost for ideas.

    2) "You might want to try restarting your tablet with the keyboard attached just to see if it makes a difference." Answer: I have done that dozens of times with and without USB debugging activated, etc. No joy, I am afraid. Frustrating...

    3) "Generally, a USB keyboard should not be a problem for Android 4.x" Answer: This is what all my friends, whom I have asked for advice, are telling me -- they say their tablets just work. I have bought 3 tablets with 3 external keybords and no combination of any tablet and keyboard works. The tablets are not a major brand, they were bought on eBay, they were described as working with the keyboards and supplied with them. The brand of the tablets is "Q7A", of the three tablets that I bought two are v.2 and one is v.1, but they behave in the same way with the external keyboards. The three have Android v4.0.3.

    Thanks again! Any and all suggestions and tips are welcome -- I am new to Android and I do not know whether at all it would be possible to install additionally any drivers, etc.

    Plamen
  9. Plamen
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    Plamen Junior Member

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    Thanks for the info -- much appreciated. Here are the answers to your comments:

    1) "Have you tried any other keyboards?" Answer: No, I have not tried other kewyboards with the tablets because I do not have other USB keyboards -- when I found that the three keyboards worked with my laptops I assumed that they were functional and that the problem was not with them. I'll see if I can find a USB keyboard in the office and try it with the tablets (with and without the adaptor with the external power supply).

    2) "...Granted, the special keys on the left for gaming on this did not work, but it worked fine for regular input" Answer: yes, that's what I want to see: that the keyboard is recognised and can provide input when I type, then the remaining problems will be tackled one-by-one. But so far absolutely no joy...

    Thanks again! Please send more tips and suggestions.

    Plamen
  10. Plamen
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    Plamen Junior Member

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    Thanks for the tip -- much appreciated as I ran out of ideas. I had tried with and without "USB debugging enabled". When it is enabled and when I attach a USB memory stick or a USB HDD to the USB-A socket I can see on the screen messages. The messages are about detecting the device and then recognising it and then installing it and making it ready for use. But I see no such messages when I attach the external USB keyboard: just the LEDs on the keyboard blink once and that is all. I did restart many times the tablets (I mean full restart, from power off) in this mode with the keyboards attached, but no success.

    There is one more thing, the tablets have two USB sockets: one socket is full-sized USB-A, it is a host-type of socket and it works with external USB memory sticks and HDDs (but not with the keyboards); the second socket is a mini-USB, it is a client-type of socket and works when I connect the tablet to another host (e.g. a laptop) and the host sees the tablet as an external storage device. In desparation and out of superstition I have also tried connecing the keyboards to this mini-USB client-type socket using a mini-to-full-USB adapter and it predictably gave zero results because the mini-USB client-type socket does not supply power to devices attached to it and the keyboards need power to work (my mini-to-full-USB adaptor is of a standard type and it does not have that special additional wiring, which I have seen discussed elsewhere on this and other forums). Does this have any relevance to the problem of the keyboards not working when connected on the full-sized USB-A host-type socket?

    Thanks again! And do please keep tips and suggestions coming.

    Plamen
  11. Natey2
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    Natey2 Junior Member

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    I believe USB host mode support was introduced in Android 3.1
    My generic ICS 4.0.3 tablet works fine with an external keyboard.
    OP, make sure you have the correct USB OTG host mode adapter to connect to the keyboard; I tried a normal USB adapter, and my keyboard did not work.
    But I don't have a full-size USB port on my tablet; just a mini-USB port.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2012
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  12. J515OP
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    J515OP Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, to the suggestion above for USB host mode plus the previous USB debugging mode suggestion. Are you sure you have Android 4.0.3? Have you checked in settings? With a no-name tablet maybe it is not as advertised or maybe not really 4.0.3. Older versions of Android require HID adapter software such as BlueKeyboard JP (usually with bluetooth but possibly usb). Sometimes a null keyboard app is required as well so the onscreen keyboard doesn't show up.

    In addition to trying the USB host mode and debugging modes, you may want to go into keyboard settings and make sure any appropriate options are checked. With the keyboard connected, open something with a text input field such as email and long press the text input area. This might bring up a menu where you need to select the input method. Select the appropriate option.

    JP
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  13. leeshor
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    leeshor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I stand corrected!
  14. Plamen
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    Plamen Junior Member

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    Thanks again for the tip: I tried connecting a standard Dell USB keyboard with and without external power supply for the keyboard but again there was no result -- the laptop does not seem to recognise the keyboard. Please keep the tips coming -- I have these three tablets now with three cases with keyboards and none of them works when connected.

    Plamen
  15. Plamen
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    Plamen Junior Member

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    Thanks for the info. My tablets have two ports -- one full-sized USB-A and one mini-USB. The former is a host type and supplies power and recognizes USB smemory sticks and HDDs and can work with them (but not with the keyboards). The latter does not appear to be a host type -- when I used a standard mini-to-full-size-USB adapter and, like you say, the keyboards do not work there and the port does not supply power to devices attached to it. Over the weekend I will obtain a USB OTG adapter and I know that I should try with the keyboard attached and switching the tablet on from "power off" state. I'll report back with the results, though I do not harbour much hope for this -- why would they design a tablet with a full-size USB-A socket but only scan and recognise keyboards on the mini-USB socket? Seems counterintuitive (although who knows...)

    Thanks and do please keep the tips and suggestions coming.
    Plamen
  16. Plamen
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    Plamen Junior Member

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    Great -- this is the single most informative post for me so far. Here are my comments to your suggestions:

    1) "...Are you sure you have Android 4.0.3? Have you checked in settings? With a no-name tablet maybe it is not as advertised or maybe not really 4.0.3."

    Well, I did go to "Settings > About tablet" on the day of purchase and found the following:

    Model number: Q7A-2
    Android version: 4.0.3
    Kernel version: 3.0.8 ubuntu@ubuntu-Aspire-5750G #2
    Build number: crane_zu5370-eng 4.0.3 IML74K 20120510 test-key

    In relation to the above: (a) Does this unequivocally show that the android version is 4.0.3? (b) What about the kernel version 3.0.8 -- is it up-to-date or does it need to be v4 or above? (c) Finally what about the build number and that string -- could I find the build files off the internet and perhaps add any missing functionality?

    2) "...Older versions of Android require HID adapter software"

    Interesting -- perhaps if I try some of the applications intended originally to provide HID support for older versions of Android it could have some debugging capability and help me trace the root of the problems? Just as a thought: perhaps it could clearly display the status of the two USB ports, detect any devices attached to them as well as identify any drivers and routines scanning the ports, etc. Can you recommend any at all? (I will scan Android Play/Market, but there is so much stuff on it and not all is relevant).

    3) "...Sometimes a null keyboard app is required as well so the onscreen keyboard doesn't show up"

    OK, I'll look it up on Android Play/Market. I presume this is a simple app which inhibits the display of the on-screen keyboard and thus it might facilitate the use or the detection of the external USB keyboard. This is a long shot, but I am desperate.

    4) "...In addition to trying the USB host mode and debugging modes, you may want to go into keyboard settings and make sure any appropriate options are checked. With the keyboard connected, open something with a text input field such as email and long press the text input area. This might bring up a menu where you need to select the input method. Select the appropriate option."

    Well, I have tried finding all related settings, including but not limited to, "Settings > Language & Input" and when the on-screen keyboard is displayed "Settings > Android Keyboard Settings" but so far no luck with finding the silver bullet -- a setting that would remotely resemble anything that could select the input source (external USB keyboard as opposed to on-screen one). I tried also your idea with holding down the finger to envoke any context-sensitive menues, but again with no luck -- any and all menues that I can envoke do not have a sought option. In this respect: I can see that currently the tablets have two active input drivers -- one is the standard Android keyboard input driver and the other is some Chinese driver, which has all its settings in Chinese and the "active" checkbox is greyed-out and <TRUE> -- the user cannot deselect it. Is this if any importance?

    It is frustrating for me that in this age of "plug-n-play" I cannot make a simple USB keyboard work with a simple terminal. I am new to Android, Linux and Ubuntu, but I an not that new to computing and peripherals and I have even written a few device drivers in assembly language for various systems in the past. If you could recommend some testing or other applications and developers' tools I might be able to look at a greater depth into the problem...

    Thanks again for your help and time and do please keep suggestions coming -- I have now these three tablets with three cases with keyboards (intended as presents for three of my nieces) but they do not work when connected and I wanted so much to make the keyboards work to help them with typing and learning touchtyping, etc. For now it's been a series of disappointments (not least with the support from the seller on the eBay, but that's a different story).

    Plamen
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  17. Natey2
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    Natey2 Junior Member

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  18. feathered2
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    feathered2 Junior Member

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    Plamen,
    Have a tablet, Vital ASC ST0717, and it looks just like yours!! Same style, same ports, etc.

    It is supposed to support these: 3G USB-Dongle Internet Card, USB Drive, USB Mouse, or, USB Keyboard.

    Also got the carrying case with keyboard, and it does not work, and is not recognized as being plugged in the USB port.

    Being in the same boat, hope someone can provide some guidance on how to get the portable USB keyboard to work.

    Will be calling tech support on Monday, and see if they can shed any enlightment on the issue..
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  19. Plamen
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    Plamen Junior Member

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    Hmm... On one hand: a great info for me, on the other hand: sorry to hear you have the same problems. Do please post your news here, especially if you find a solution.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  20. Plamen
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    Plamen Junior Member

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    Well, you are right -- all USB keyboards are probably powered by the USB port, mine too. However I have a cable and an external power supply which can provide up to 4 amps (its not a self-powered hub, which might require a driver in order to work, it's plain cable, so it works always in all configurations) and I used this cable to try the Dell USB keyboards.

    Thanks a lot for the tip -- this is a great software and a great help in my case, though so far I cannot report any tangible results -- I tried this over the weekend and this is what I get:

    The software checks the claims made by the OS for USB Host support and then verifies that this support indeed functions. It produces different results when I plug external USB HDD (or a memory stick) and when I plug a keyboard as follows:

    1) if I plug a USB HDD or memory stick: all listed by the OS claims for host USB are found to be true (presumably all tests of the relevant OS functionality by this software succeed)

    2) if I plug a keyboard: all listed by the OS claims for host USB support are exactly the same as for case (1), but this time some of them are found to be not implemented or not working (the tests fail)

    I have not had time to dive deeper into this in order to find what exactly happens and will try to do this over the week and post any further findings.

    Thanks again and do please keep useful information like this coming in...

    Plamen
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

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