Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: Prev 1 [2] 3 4 5 Next   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?  (Read 16665 times)
K9JCS
Member

Posts: 37




Ignore
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2012, 06:23:41 PM »

Over the years I have developed a collection of cheap Chinese USB to serial converters that just didn't work. I kept buying them in the hopes that the next one would work. I've bought a lot of 1.99 and 2.99 USB Serial converters from EBAY. All of the warnings I've seen have said that the cheap ones have been knockoffs of legitimate Prolific or other manufacturers chipsets. That may or may not be true, I have no way of knowing. I would diligently download the recommended driver or load the included drivers on the mini CD and attempt to install my brand new El cheapo USB/Ser converter. I would routinely get the response that the device was not properly installed and might not work.  No truer words were ever written. I then thought to myself, "Maybe if I download the most current driver package from the manufacturer it will work."  Every time it did not work.

I was trying to get my latest batch of converters working and accidentally plugged one into to one of my older machines.  Surprise, Surprise!  It loaded correctly and actually keyed the radio just like it was supposed to in FLDIGI. Actually each one of the previously non working converters in my collection now worked in the old machine. I then wondered, "What is different about this machine that makes it work." It has to be the driver. I went into System-Hardware-Device Manager-Ports-USB Serial-Driver-Driver Details and finally selected the ser2pl.sys file which gave me the the version of the file. It was a much earlier version of that file than the same file on the machines where the converter wouldn't load or work. Ser2pl.sys is apparently the driver file for converters. I put a copy of the older file in the Windows\System32\Drivers directory of the newer machines and all of the old collection of converters worked in each of the machines. (I replaced the newer version with the older version) The lesson here is that the newest driver does not necessarily fix all your problems.  Sometimes going backwards is helpful.

BTW, I have learned that FTDI chipsets are pretty reliable for USB Serial converters above the 10 dollar level on EBay.

73   Jim   K9JCS

Logged
W8JX
Member

Posts: 5477




Ignore
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2012, 08:17:09 PM »

When you pay 2 or 3 bucks what do you expect?
Logged

--------------------------------------
Entered using a  WiFi Win 8.1 RT tablet or a Android tablet using 4G/LTE or WiFi.
K5TED
Member

Posts: 699




Ignore
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2012, 09:58:35 PM »

The Tripplite 4-port serial to USB converter works fine. I have mine running a Piexx Kenwood interface, a Icom PCR-100, PCR-1000 and Yaesu FT-857D. No problems, all can run simultaneously. I use the PCR-1000 for receive, with the FT-857D for duplex satellite operation all the time with HRD controlling the mess. No probs.

That said, if you can find a multi-port serial to PCI card that works with Win 7, get it and use it. I had to ditch my old Comtrol Rocketport for incompatibility.
Logged
KD8DEY
Member

Posts: 352




Ignore
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2012, 11:19:30 PM »

Technology aside, Since he was already set up to use serial ports with his rig/equipment It would be cheaper to install a serial port card than to replace his Serial cables with USB versions.

The USB-29B programming cable for that radio is $30.00 from RT Systems.
NewEgg has serial pci cards on sale right now for as little as $12.00 shipped
« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 11:29:17 PM by KD8DEY » Logged
W8JX
Member

Posts: 5477




Ignore
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2012, 05:19:39 AM »

Technology aside, Since he was already set up to use serial ports with his rig/equipment It would be cheaper to install a serial port card than to replace his Serial cables with USB versions.

So buy a new computer and cling to old technology with it?  Why buy new computer? Reminds me of a guy I know that bought a new quad core computer with 64 bit Win7 and down graded it to 32 bit XP. Such a waste.  Like it or not technology is advancing and better to bite bullet now and change than hold off because serial is dying fast. BTW, he can still use his serial cables with a USB to serial adaptor.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 05:53:55 AM by W8JX » Logged

--------------------------------------
Entered using a  WiFi Win 8.1 RT tablet or a Android tablet using 4G/LTE or WiFi.
AA4PB
Member

Posts: 12686




Ignore
« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2012, 06:01:21 AM »

"So buy a new computer and cling to old technology with it?  Why buy new computer?"

A USB-serial converter buys you absolutly nothing compaired to using a real RS-232 port with a computer (old or new) that has a slot available for it and a user smart enough to install it. That's a whole different issue that downgrading an operating system. The real RS-232 port can also avoid a lot of problems that you **can** have with some mfgs USB-serial converters and drivers.

It's a no brainer for me.
Logged
W8JX
Member

Posts: 5477




Ignore
« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2012, 06:09:27 AM »

A USB-serial converter buys you absolutly nothing compaired to using a real RS-232 port with a computer (old or new) that has a slot available for it and a user smart enough to install it.

I disagree, I have used several USB to serial devices at same time with no problems and they configure and act like a old comm port. To suggest that to waste a computer MB slot for a 80's serial card when this slot could be far better utilized for adding more USB ports is foolish. They do not call it "Universal Serial Buss" for no reason.  Why invest in a "boot anchor" addition on a new system?
Logged

--------------------------------------
Entered using a  WiFi Win 8.1 RT tablet or a Android tablet using 4G/LTE or WiFi.
AA4PB
Member

Posts: 12686




Ignore
« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2012, 10:03:57 AM »

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree then. I have used USB-serial converters in a commercial RS-232 application that has several hundred users and I've run into a number of timing and driver related issues with a couple of the inexpensive converters. I've had to modify software to have more relaxed timing requirements. FTDI chip sets seem to be the most reliable. USB is a packetized protocol while RS-232 is a steady data stream. That means there is ALWAYS some delay inserted when using USB to RS-232 conversion. Whether or not that causes a problem depends on the converter speed, the baud rate, and the application you are using.

I've had users with laptops connecting and disconnecting devices wind up not always using the same connector and end up with 20 unused COM ports on the laptop. Then they have no idea what is what and become totally confused. On the other hand, I've NEVER had any of those issues with a real serial port. If your hardware port is set to COM1 it is always COM1 and it will always be available to the software that is configured to use COM1. You cannot say that about USB-serial converters.
Logged
W8JX
Member

Posts: 5477




Ignore
« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2012, 11:21:16 AM »

Because of the slowness of a old style comm port the system has to go thru several dead cycles waiting for data stream to up date. (Serial was designed when systems were very slow and had 8 bit buss at 1 mhz too.) Newer comm ports since mid 90's depend on bigger Uarts to buffer data and feed it to system in bigger and more efficient chunks. Feed a system buss with a slow  serial card results in a lot of lost buss cycles as it waits for data. On other hand a serial to USB will buffer data and send it to system more efficiently in bigger chunks and end result is same and gives more efficient use a buss too. If you have issues with them working right timing wise it is because of your hardware (CPU and Ram) and not because of USB to serial adapters.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 01:23:42 PM by W8JX » Logged

--------------------------------------
Entered using a  WiFi Win 8.1 RT tablet or a Android tablet using 4G/LTE or WiFi.
STAYVERTICAL
Member

Posts: 854




Ignore
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2012, 01:37:45 PM »

Hi,

The short answer is yes, add some serial ports.
Many radios still use serial ports for programming and they do not cost very much.
It does not matter if you add a PCI or USB/dongle type.

In my case, since I am locked into laptop use, I bought a USB-dongle type of USB to Serial converter cable.
They have a USB plug on one end, a serial port connector on the other, and some electronics to convert between the two hidden somewhere in between.

The serial port is also useful for building simple CW keying and push to talk interfaces for use in ham radio.

I am sure eventually, USB ports on ham radio equipment will become very common, but at the moment serial ports are still very useful.
For example the Yaesu FT857/897/817 all use serial ports in the radio programming interface (although in their case you also need a level converter to convert from +-12v levels to the TTL 0/5V levels required at the radio).

The current period is one of transition, so multiple solutions rule at the moment.

Hope this helps.

73s
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 01:42:27 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
W3WN
Member

Posts: 179




Ignore
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2012, 12:22:22 PM »

I bought a new desktop personal computer several weeks ago.  I haven't been real active with amateur radio, but I did notice that the programming cable for my Yaesu FT-8800 still has a serial port connector!  Anyway, as I do some planning and look towards the future, I am trying to determine if I want to add a serial port card, or possibly a dual serial port card, to my new computer.  What I am wondering is if most programming cables for amateur radios are now coming with USB connectors or are serial port cables still common?
  
If you have a slot available for the card, and have the card (presumably PCI) to add a serial port, why not?  I would.

And here's why: 
I have yet to run into a rig that is USB capable, so the rigs in use now, and that will be available on the market for years to come, will require an RS-232 interface, like it or not. 

Now, there are many fine USB to Serial converters available, but there are just as many lousy ones available (for rig control purposes, anyway).  It's not a function of price, either.  So you could go through multiple adapters until you find the right one.  Granted, the day may come where you have to anyway, but hopefully at that point in time, the converters then available will (overall) do a better job.

I went through this with a friend about a year or so ago.  His Omni was accidentally destroyed in a Field Day accident, and he used the insurance settlement to buy a new rig and a new laptop to control it with.  He's had a heck of a time doing software updates, though, because the laptop (which only has USB) is constantly reconfiguring the COM port assigned to the USB cable -- in part, granted, because he's swapping USB devices in and out.  So what's happening is that if, say, COM3 is assigned to another USB device (say a digital camera), and he does a hot swap, the USB adapter for the rig might become COM5, not the COM3 he needs.  It's more than a minor inconvenience -- I understand this, but he's not as hardware-literate.

However... when we do a software upload via the COM port on the old, old ACER laptop he has (for portable use as a computer logger), it works every single time.  Every.  Single.  Time.  No futzing around.

Now, we can't add a serial port to the new laptop.  But any rig going into the shack for computer control?  No serial port, it doesn't go in, and that's that.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2012, 12:42:11 PM by W3WN » Logged
W8JX
Member

Posts: 5477




Ignore
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2012, 03:33:00 PM »

I have yet to run into a rig that is USB capable, so the rigs in use now, and that will be available on the market for years to come, will require an RS-232 interface, like it or not. 

Like it of not 232 is a DYING standard. Wishing otherwise will not change this. Only rigs that require a 232 today are "new" 5 year or older rig designs being sold as new and cutting edge. No newly designed equipment is being built without USB support. 232 is a bottle neck, not a asset today.

Now, there are many fine USB to Serial converters available, but there are just as many lousy ones available (for rig control purposes, anyway).  It's not a function of price, either.  So you could go through multiple adapters until you find the right one.  Granted, the day may come where you have to anyway, but hopefully at that point in time, the converters then available will (overall) do a better job.

I went through this with a friend about a year or so ago.  His Omni was accidentally destroyed in a Field Day accident, and he used the insurance settlement to buy a new rig and a new laptop to control it with.  He's had a heck of a time doing software updates, though, because the laptop (which only has USB) is constantly reconfiguring the COM port assigned to the USB cable -- in part, granted, because he's swapping USB devices in and out.  So what's happening is that if, say, COM3 is assigned to another USB device (say a digital camera), and he does a hot swap, the USB adapter for the rig might become COM5, not the COM3 he needs.  It's more than a minor inconvenience -- I understand this, but he's not as hardware-literate.

Well what do you expect when you hot swap a USB device. I have two USB to serial adapter on my laptop in my shack and they have not moved or changed in over a year now as I have no need to hotswap them .  BTW I have 5 USB ports on that old laptop.


However... when we do a software upload via the COM port on the old, old ACER laptop he has (for portable use as a computer logger), it works every single time.  Every.  Single.  Time.  No futzing around.

Now, we can't add a serial port to the new laptop.  But any rig going into the shack for computer control?  No serial port, it doesn't go in, and that's that.

Gee every single time I have used my USB to serial adapters they have worked, even for firmware updates.
Logged

--------------------------------------
Entered using a  WiFi Win 8.1 RT tablet or a Android tablet using 4G/LTE or WiFi.
N4KD
Member

Posts: 132




Ignore
« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2012, 07:01:28 AM »

Because of the slowness of a old style comm port the system has to go thru several dead cycles waiting for data stream to up date. (Serial was designed when systems were very slow and had 8 bit buss at 1 mhz too.) Newer comm ports since mid 90's depend on bigger Uarts to buffer data and feed it to system in bigger and more efficient chunks. Feed a system buss with a slow  serial card results in a lot of lost buss cycles as it waits for data. On other hand a serial to USB will buffer data and send it to system more efficiently in bigger chunks and end result is same and gives more efficient use a buss too. If you have issues with them working right timing wise it is because of your hardware (CPU and Ram) and not because of USB to serial adapters.
Your devotion to USB is admirable, but there are still a lot of legacy issues with using USB to Serial converters. I'm not sure if it's the USB latency, or the lack of real 232 voltage levels, but reliability and consistency favors using a RS-232 com port to drive a RS-232 configured piece of equipment. We can talk more about USB shortcomings in another thread, but lacking a truly modern radio, like a Kenwood 590S, a true USB interface is lacking. RS-232 is going to be around for a long time to come. Then, there's the distance limitations on USB cables, what is it, about 16ft? I'm not going to run a remote switch with that protocol.

Conclusion is that a RS-232 card is going to make any computer much more useful with the large amount of "old fashioned" equipment that's out there. They're cheap and reliable. Buy one. Get as many ports as you can.

Dave - N4KD
Logged
W8JX
Member

Posts: 5477




Ignore
« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2012, 12:56:57 PM »


Your devotion to USB is admirable, but there are still a lot of legacy issues with using USB to Serial converters. I'm not sure if it's the USB latency, or the lack of real 232 voltage levels, but reliability and consistency favors using a RS-232 com port to drive a RS-232 configured piece of equipment. We can talk more about USB shortcomings in another thread, but lacking a truly modern radio, like a Kenwood 590S, a true USB interface is lacking. RS-232 is going to be around for a long time to come. Then, there's the distance limitations on USB cables, what is it, about 16ft? I'm not going to run a remote switch with that protocol.

It is not devotion but reality as standards change. Those that try to sell and cling to a dying standard like serial are the "devoted" ones here. As far as exceeding 16 foot, man that is a easy line to cross. The make cables than extend range of it to 50 or 100 feet. Not that expensive either. 

Maybe you should go make to a 486 or a Pentium and MS DOS or WIN95 and a ISA buss and old 16 bit programs. Your serials would be right at home there and you can find some "new" old design rigs with 232's on them too. No radio worth anything designed and built today will not support USB.

Next it will be you need a parallel port too.  Why buy a new computer and 64 bit OS and ham string it with old hardware interfaces?
Logged

--------------------------------------
Entered using a  WiFi Win 8.1 RT tablet or a Android tablet using 4G/LTE or WiFi.
AA4PB
Member

Posts: 12686




Ignore
« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2012, 02:00:56 PM »

"No radio worth anything designed and built today will not support USB"

So any radio that doesn't have a USB port on it is a piece of worthless junk  Grin

If not, then why are you so insistant that you MUST have a USB connected to your computer but you are okay with trying to convert it to good ol RS-232 to connect to the radio end?

Why are you okay with software running on your "modern" computer that requires a legacy serial port connection, either in terms of a virtual serial port or a real serial port? Why does virtually all ham radio software still require a legacy serial port interface for rig control?

What you are really doing with a USB-serial converter is taking legacy serial from the software, converting it to USB with virtual driver, sending it out the USB port on the computer and then connecting it to a piece of hardware that converts it back into RS-232 serial so you can send it to your radio's legacy serial port. And somehow you think that is better than simply having the software connect to a real serial port like it was designed to do? I don't think so. When ham software is designed to directly access the USB port and you can connect that USB port directly to your radio without a converter, then talk to me  Grin

The only good reason for using a USB-serial converter is if your computer doesn't have a legacy RS-232 serial port or a slot to add one.

« Last Edit: February 10, 2012, 02:05:33 PM by AA4PB » Logged
Pages: Prev 1 [2] 3 4 5 Next   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!