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eHam Forums => Computers And Software => Topic started by: N0JS on January 30, 2012, 03:47:49 AM



Title: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: N0JS on January 30, 2012, 03:47:49 AM
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?
 


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: NA4IT on January 30, 2012, 04:27:58 AM
I would add the serial ports. USB to serial adapters are problematic. A PCI Serial card only costs a few buck, easy to install.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on January 30, 2012, 04:51:59 AM
I would add the serial ports. USB to serial adapters are problematic. A PCI Serial card only costs a few buck, easy to install.

They are only as problematic as you make them. I find them to be very reliable. And as far as a card, first you have to find one as PCI is a dying standard and then you have to make your PC has a free PCI slot and some only have PCI-E slots.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB on January 30, 2012, 05:13:11 AM
PCI serial cards are cheep. I got one with two serial ports for $15. Once installed, it doesn't matter if PCI goes away because you already have it in your computer. USB-serial converters do work but, depending on the brand you have, can cause issues with some operating systems and some devices. In addition, as you get more and more USB devices you run out of ports and wind up having to get a hub. In my experience, real RS-232 serial ports are a lot more straightforward and have fewer issues.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on January 30, 2012, 06:02:38 AM
A external hub is not a big deal. I use about 5 or 6 USB port on a old laptop. Two are for USB to serial and others after for mem sticks, Rig Plaster PnP and other things. A few are on a external hub. It all works fine. I would not waste a PCI slot on a serial card as it is easy to emulate via USB. I would save it for if you need a NIC card or something.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W5DQ on January 30, 2012, 05:34:37 PM
PCI serial cards are cheep. I got one with two serial ports for $15. Once installed, it doesn't matter if PCI goes away because you already have it in your computer. USB-serial converters do work but, depending on the brand you have, can cause issues with some operating systems and some devices. In addition, as you get more and more USB devices you run out of ports and wind up having to get a hub. In my experience, real RS-232 serial ports are a lot more straightforward and have fewer issues.


Yes, this is true but it can also be a double edge sword. If someone configures everything for hardware PCI serial ports and that card dies, if the PCI card sources dry up then you'll be back at square one. If that same person uses a bit of analysis and determines which USB serial adapter works (I haven't found one yet that doesn't work as intended for my purposes - maybe I'm just lucky?), then any issues with the host PC system will not be that big of an problem to overcome. Simply replace a USB card if USB port dies and no other internal ones available or if needed add a powered USB hub and off you go.

Don't get me wrong, I use both methods. My older PC right now has only 2 hardware serial ports on the mobo. The rest (last count 6 or 7) are handled by USB serial ports and powered hubs with no issues. The USB adapters I most frequently use for ham radio are the IOMEGA GUC-232A. They are only USB 1.1 but they function just fine for my needs and price is right when you find them on sale or clearance.

Gene W5DQ


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: G4AON on January 31, 2012, 02:08:40 AM
Real serial ports are always useful in the shack. Last week I upgraded my shack PC. I fitted a new power supply, motherboard, hard drive, RAM etc. The motherboard (Asus P8H61/USB3 REV3) includes 1 x RS232 and 1 x parallel port... it's unusual to have a serial port and even more unusual to have a parallel one!

My old (circa 2006) multi RS232 PCI card fitted without an issue and Windows 7 had drivers for it. I have 6 extra RS232 ports and one on the motherboard. They are used for:

Davis Vantage Pro weather station, K3, KPA500, SCS Pactor modem, KAM Plus modem, TS480 and an RS232 WinKey.

73 Dave



Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K3TN on January 31, 2012, 03:39:00 AM
When I built my Windows 7 PC early last year I did not put in a serial card. I have a Microham interface that provides virtual serial ports for connection 2 xcvrs, an amp, keyer, etc. - works fine. I had to learn not to use any Prolific chip set-based USB/serial adapters, once past that I really haven't missed having a serial port.

But if I didn't have something like the Microham or equivalent, I think I would have just built it with a serial port card or added one by now.

John K3TN


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB on January 31, 2012, 05:26:11 AM
True, a USB hub is not a big deal. However, it's yet another piece of hardware that you have dangling off the computer. In addition, if you have several USB devices that get their power from the USB port (like most USB-serial adapters) then you'll need a powered hub which means another wall wart.

It's also true that if your serial card goes bad and you cannot get another then you'll have to revert to a usb-serial adapter. With the number is serial cards around I doubt that will become a problem for a long time to come. Even if mfgs stopped making cards there would be plenty available on ebay and other sources.

Personally, I use a serial card any time I can. Serial card port assignments stay put which makes them easy to locate. For example, COM1 is always COM1. If you unplug a USB-serial adapter and plug it into a different port it usually gets assigned a different COM number. That can make software configuration difficult if you have more than one adapter.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: KB9VGE on January 31, 2012, 07:55:17 AM
One of the big disadvantages of serial vs. USB is that with serial, you always have to get to the back of the machine which may be problematic depending on your layout.

Which serial cable?  Null modem or regular serial????   
USB never has that problem.

Serial is dying.  USB may not be here forever, but it it'll be here a long time, yet.
The newer usb-serial converters work fine.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on January 31, 2012, 08:16:31 AM
Personally, I use a serial card any time I can. Serial card port assignments stay put which makes them easy to locate. For example, COM1 is always COM1. If you unplug a USB-serial adapter and plug it into a different port it usually gets assigned a different COM number. That can make software configuration difficult if you have more than one adapter.

It is only difficult as you make it. Why would you feel you need to unplug them from a USB port and move them? (do you remove/unplug your serial card from bus slot regularly?)   I am using two USB to serial adapters here and they have not moved in assignment or resources in nearly a year now. Nor was it difficult to configure them. 


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB on January 31, 2012, 10:20:57 AM
Why would you feel you need to unplug them from a USB port and move them?

Perhaps you want to temporarily connect another piece of equipment and don't have a spare USB port. I occassionally disconnect something in order to connect a USB programmer.

I just don't understand why people are suggesting that he should not install a serial card when he has the slot available and cards are so inexpensive. If he didn't have a slot available on his computer that would be a different matter.

While serial is going away as far as consumer products are concerned, there are still lots of commerical applications such as instrumentation that uses serial. My guess is that your present computer will go away before the use of serial is completely gone.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on January 31, 2012, 11:02:42 AM
Why would you feel you need to unplug them from a USB port and move them?

Perhaps you want to temporarily connect another piece of equipment and don't have a spare USB port. I occassionally disconnect something in order to connect a USB programmer.

Then add a card with extra USB ports or a external hub and it is far more useful than a 80's era serial card. After all USB stand for Universal Serial Bus.


I just don't understand why people are suggesting that he should not install a serial card when he has the slot available and cards are so inexpensive. If he didn't have a slot available on his computer that would be a different matter.

Perhaps because it is dead end technology and a terrible waste of a slot on motherboard when it could be better used to add more USB ports or a NIC card. They are cheap because they are dead ended with no growth potential.

While serial is going away as far as consumer products are concerned, there are still lots of commerical applications such as instrumentation that uses serial. My guess is that your present computer will go away before the use of serial is completely gone.

That list is getting shorter every day as new equipment replace old. Even new radios are now coming with USB ports and it is so easy to emulate a old serial on a USB port.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB on January 31, 2012, 11:47:53 AM
You've got to watch out for some of the gear that comes with a built in USB port. Many of them are nothing more than a built in USB to serial converter. You still have to install an appropriate virtual com port driver on the computer, figure out what com port number it has been assigned, and set software to use the appropriate com port. When they get to the point that you plug your radio into any USB port, it identifies itself as an Icom model xxx to the computer and the ham software automatically knows where to find it then it will be truly plug and play like most of the printers and other common USB peripherals.

I guess I'm just old fashioned. If I have something that works then I don't see a need to change it just to keep up with the times  ;D I have a laptop that has no serial ports and on that I use a USB to serial adapter. I have a Dell tower that has several internal slots available so I put a two-port serial card in that and save the USB ports for the devices that really need to use USB. By the time you plug in the keyboard, mouse, printer, and UPS control all of the rear USB slots are gone. That leaves two on the front that are handy for plugging in temporary devices like a memory stick, programmer, etc.



Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on January 31, 2012, 11:57:28 AM
Technology is moving forward and clinging to old ways will not stop it or make transition any easier when you are finally forced to make it.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K9JCS 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



Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 02, 2012, 08:17:09 PM
When you pay 2 or 3 bucks what do you expect?


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K5TED 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.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: KD8DEY 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


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX 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.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB 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.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX 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?


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB 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.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX 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.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: STAYVERTICAL 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


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W3WN 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.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX 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.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: N4KD 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


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX 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?


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB 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  ;D

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  ;D

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.



Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 10, 2012, 03:52:20 PM

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


To design a new radio today without one and with a serial today is foolish. Tell me which new rig today (and I mean really new not a recycled 5 or 10 year old design sold as new) comes with serial only and no USB support?


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB on February 10, 2012, 05:34:15 PM
Guess what? The IC7600 USB port requires you to install a virtual com port driver on the PC in order to do rig control. It seems to me that what they have done is to move the USB-serial converter inside the radio. Your control software still needs to connect to a software com port and communicate with the radio via CI-V commands.

That's better than an external USB-serial driver but it's still not "plug and play" like a keyboard, mouse, printer, etc.

Now I can certainly understand why Icom would do that - because all of the existing programs that hams use require connecting to a serial port - not USB.

I have a Timewave PK-96 that has a USB port. Guess what? All they did was to add an FTDI USB-serial converter to the PC board. You have to install a virtual com port driver on the PC. Granted it converts directly to TTL levels rather than RS-232 levels but its still legacy 9600 baud serial data.



Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 10, 2012, 06:09:03 PM
Guess what? The IC7600 USB port requires you to install a virtual com port driver on the PC in order to do rig control. It seems to me that what they have done is to move the USB-serial converter inside the radio. Your control software still needs to connect to a software com port and communicate with the radio via CI-V commands.

So let me understand this, the best you could do is use a radio that came out in what early 2009 and was likely designed in 2007 or so as a New rig?  What about newer ones? Like buying a new 2007 or 2008 laptop today.  And moving a USB to serial converter inside a radio (to use a dated internal interface design) and supplying a driver is bad right?

You have to install a virtual com port driver on the PC. Granted it converts directly to TTL levels rather than RS-232 levels but its still legacy 9600 baud serial data.

Yes because Icom has always been behind power curve on data band rates because they recycle old interfaces.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K3WEC on February 10, 2012, 08:42:36 PM
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.

The legacy ports (to include serial and parallel) are slated to go end-of-life within the PC industry in the next couple years...meaning, you won't be able to purchase a PC with one in it, nor will there be many if any options to jury-rig one.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K5MF on February 11, 2012, 03:46:49 AM
Technology is moving forward and clinging to old ways will not stop it or make transition any easier when you are finally forced to make it.

Maybe not as fast as we would like to think.  I was out of Ham Radio for many years and when I came back in two years ago I was shocked at how much RS232 was still being used in products.  That high tech stuff still has my wife's blood glucose meter interfacing via RS232.  Robotics kits for my students - RS232 or an USB to RS232 converter on the PIC board.  My GPS, RS232.  I really thought RS232 would have been completely replaced by now but not so much.  I guess it still works and a good number of manufacturers are still using it.  It is simple, reliable, and works just fine. 

I don't see the big deal with sticking an RS232 board in the OP's machine.  The boards are a whole lot cheaper than other interfaces and work just fine.  I have several computers and still keep a couple of the old ones around simply because they have RS232 interfaces in them.  I just built an ASUS i7 machine and frankly, it has so many card slots on the mother board and so many built in USB 2.0, USB3.0, SATA, IDE ports on it that I don't ever see myself running out of card slots.  Geeze, there isn't a need to add anything but memory and a video card to the thing.  I put a two port serial card in mine and it works just fine, lasts a long time, and is convenient as all get out at certain times.  If we are taking a vote, I vote to put it in.  What is a $15-$20 card in a $1500 computer?  Heck I spent $2800 on my first PC and all it had was one serial and one parallel port.

Don't over analyze things.  Sometimes you just have to go for it.  Think of it this way - what can it possibly hurt to have a serial card in the machine?   Absolutely nothing!


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 11, 2012, 04:03:16 PM
Think of it this way - what can it possibly hurt to have a serial card in the machine?   

I only delays the inevitable, 232 is on its last breaths.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB on February 11, 2012, 05:08:22 PM
1. Suppose I have a need to control a radio or TNC that requires 9600 baud RS-232.
2. I have a computer that has a couple of empty slots and I can easily purchase and install an RS-232 card for $10.
3. So, I should instead purchase a $15 USB-serial converter and install a virtual COM port driver? Why would I want to do that? So I can claim that I am up to date with current technology? Because someday in the future I may purchase a new computer that doesn't have an empty slot? Why would I not just use a USB-serial converter when that day comes?
4. If using a USB-serial converter makes you feel better then by all means go for it. From a purely practical aspect however the RS-232 port still makes more sense at this point in time.
5. Yes, direct RS-232 support in new computers is on its way out. However, USB support for communications devices is lagging behind. My guess is that we'll be using USB-serial RS-232 converters long after PC support for RS-232 ports has gone away. Especially when it comes to amateur radio, mfgs tend to lag behind.
 


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 11, 2012, 06:31:14 PM
1. Suppose I have a need to control a radio or TNC that requires 9600 baud RS-232.

Piece of cake with a USB to serial converter

2. I have a computer that has a couple of empty slots and I can easily purchase and install an RS-232 card for $10.

Will make a good small paper weight or conversion piece for junk box.

3. So, I should instead purchase a $15 USB-serial converter and install a virtual COM port driver? Why would I want to do that? So I can claim that I am up to date with current technology? Because someday in the future I may purchase a new computer that doesn't have an empty slot? Why would I not just use a USB-serial converter when that day comes?

Smart thing to do, 232 is all but dead. Nobody is built anything truly new for 232.

4. If using a USB-serial converter makes you feel better then by all means go for it. From a purely practical aspect however the RS-232 port still makes more sense at this point in time.

You mean if hanging on to dead end technology make you feel better , ie 232 cards.


5. Yes, direct RS-232 support in new computers is on its way out. However, USB support for communications devices is lagging behind. My guess is that we'll be using USB-serial RS-232 converters long after PC support for RS-232 ports has gone away. Especially when it comes to amateur radio, mfgs tend to lag behind.
 

Direct support is on way out? Where have you been? It has been gone for many years. As far as USB devices lagging? Get real as anything and everything new in technology area is USB. Only things still using 232 is repackaged old stuff being sold as new.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K8AC on February 14, 2012, 06:08:25 AM
Not wishing to enter this pissing match, but here's a fact that's escaped notice thus far.  Add-on serial port cards do not have to be PCI cards today.  Newegg carries a line of cards with RS232 ports that use the PCIe interface (the small sockets with rather few pins) and include the latest UARTs for high speed use.  I don't believe I've run across any state-of-the-art desktop motherboards that don't have at least one or two PCIe ports. 


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB on February 14, 2012, 06:44:01 AM
Not wishing to enter this pissing match, but here's a fact that's escaped notice thus far.  Add-on serial port cards do not have to be PCI cards today.  Newegg carries a line of cards with RS232 ports that use the PCIe interface (the small sockets with rather few pins) and include the latest UARTs for high speed use.  I don't believe I've run across any state-of-the-art desktop motherboards that don't have at least one or two PCIe ports. 

Gee, I thought JX said support for direct RS-232 has been gone for many years now. He almost had me convinced that my mini-tower was the last one in existance  ;D


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 14, 2012, 06:45:57 AM
I don't believe I've run across any state-of-the-art desktop motherboards that don't have at least one or two PCIe ports. 

While tend to strongly agree I have seen a few cheap ones that did not. Free PCIe 1x slots are usually pretty easy to find. Still say they are better served using them to add USB ports though.  


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 14, 2012, 06:54:03 AM

Gee, I thought JX said support for direct RS-232 has been gone for many years now. He almost had me convinced that my mini-tower was the last one in existance  ;D


It has been. Direct support is built in to MB. Indirect is via USB or PCIe. Even on a PCIe buss there is still background emulation of comm ports. There has to be because it is very slow and need to be virtualised and buffered in firmware or software to todays much faster data buss. 232 cards were designed when 8 bit ISA slots were main stream.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AK7V on February 14, 2012, 09:32:25 AM
This is funny.  W8JX reminds me of the guys who'd show utter contempt for those of us who were still on dial-up 7 or so years ago.  Why someone would appear to have such a visceral reaction to someone else's choice in technology always baffled me...  It's almost as if the mere idea of someone out there - not doing things the newest, flashiest, way - really stuck in their craw.

Anyway, RS-232 with the DB-9 or DB-25 or whatever isn't going anywhere, at least not in industry, for a while.  Too much reliable, expensive stuff using it. 

The potential speed costs/benefits of USB->232 converters versus on-board 232 are pretty much moot, since your limit is baud rate and most ham rigs don't need a fast rate (and/or don't support it).

My opinion is to do what makes life easier FOR YOU.  If you have equipment that you enjoy and use that wants to plug into an RS-232 port, and you have a slot on your computer where you can put RS-232 ports, go for it.  Technology is a tool.  Use it how you see fit.  Don't ignore progress, but don't be a slave to it, either.  Find the tools that work best for your applications.  In my opinion, an on-board RS-232 card is the way to go if you've got the room - right now, most rigs that people are using still have RS-232.  But then again, I still use CW - guess I'm a Luddite. :)


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB on February 14, 2012, 11:43:02 AM
"Direct support is built in to MB"

Direct support is direct support of a serial UART by the operating system and the bios. It makes no difference if it is located on the mother board or a plug in card of some type.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 14, 2012, 03:02:58 PM
This is funny.  W8JX reminds me of the guys who'd show utter contempt for those of us who were still on dial-up 7 or so years ago.  Why someone would appear to have such a visceral reaction to someone else's choice in technology always baffled me...  It's almost as if the mere idea of someone out there - not doing things the newest, flashiest, way - really stuck in their craw.

7 years ago there was a lot of people that could not get broadband still. I was on ISDN until 7 or 8 years ago when cable came through. DSL only came in last year here in country. Still a few out there with dial-up because that is all they can get.

Back to subject, the point I am making, when you are upgrading hardware and operating system and its abilities why do grade it too? You can crow till cows come home but 232 is all but dead and USB to serial is VERY easy to do when needed for old tech stuff. USB (Universal Serial Bus) is very adaptable.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AK7V on February 14, 2012, 03:28:56 PM
This is funny.  W8JX reminds me of the guys who'd show utter contempt for those of us who were still on dial-up 7 or so years ago.  Why someone would appear to have such a visceral reaction to someone else's choice in technology always baffled me...  It's almost as if the mere idea of someone out there - not doing things the newest, flashiest, way - really stuck in their craw.

7 years ago there was a lot of people that could not get broadband still. I was on ISDN until 7 or 8 years ago when cable came through. DSL only came in last year here in country. Still a few out there with dial-up because that is all they can get.

Back to subject, the point I am making, when you are upgrading hardware and operating system and its abilities why do grade it too? You can crow till cows come home but 232 is all but dead and USB to serial is VERY easy to do when needed for old tech stuff. USB (Universal Serial Bus) is very adaptable.

Personally, I have had good luck with USB->232 adapters.  And I am a fan of the USB protocol.  But I've read of enough problems others have had with converters to make me think that a dedicated RS-232 card would be a more robust solution.  Rigs with CAT control don't need much bandwidth and they still use RS-232, so for that application, if I had to build something up for reliability, I'd go with the RS-232 card.

Having a faster computer and a new OS is great -- your software will run better, you'll have more storage, etc.  Whether you use USB->232 or straight 232 will exhibit no difference in performance (assuming both work).  It seems you are conflating two unrelated issues in this case - new, faster, better computer has nothing to do with straight 232 vs. USB->232.  Nothing about a USB->232 converter is faster or better than a dedicated 232 port.  In fact, many old, weak computers have USB ports (doesn't mean there's anything wrong with USB, though :) ) 

Installing an RS-232 card is not "downgrading."  It's using a tool that's available, and in this case, has nothing to do with performance.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AA4PB on February 14, 2012, 04:07:51 PM
"The potential speed costs/benefits of USB->232 converters versus on-board 232 are pretty much moot, since your limit is baud rate and most ham rigs don't need a fast rate (and/or don't support it)."

That's true **if** you are just transmitting normal serial data as in 9600 baud rig control. If you start doing things like using control signals to key CW or to toggle direct FSK then you can run into timing issues with some USB->232 converters.

That's one reason I recommended to the original poster that if he has slots available in the computer and has a need for RS-232 he should add an RS-232 card rather than fool with a USB->232 converter. All this bantering about RS-232 going away shouldn't mean a thing to him. If he installs a card today and somehow all cards in the world go away tomorrow what does it matter to him. He still has his RS-232 need and he still has his card. If in a few years he buys a new computer and it doesn't have a slot available for an RS-232 card then he goes to a USB converter at that point.

I've done enough commercial work with USB converters to know that they are not all created equally. It depends on the computer, the converter, and what you are attempting to do with it. Nobody can convince me that they all work just fine in all applications because my personal experience is different than that. I've also run across issues with users not installing converters correctly (wrong driver for his OS, plugging in converter before installing driver, etc). Laptops are often difficult because users connect/disconnect the USB converter on a regular basis and it doesn't always get plugged into the same USB port on the computer. Plug into a different port and it gets assigned a different COM port. Suddenly his software can't find the converter, doesn't work, and he doesn't know what's wrong. Do that a few times and add in several other devices that use converters and you wind up with a list of 15 COM ports and not a clue which one should be used with what device.





Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: AK7V on February 14, 2012, 05:23:48 PM
"The potential speed costs/benefits of USB->232 converters versus on-board 232 are pretty much moot, since your limit is baud rate and most ham rigs don't need a fast rate (and/or don't support it)."

That's true **if** you are just transmitting normal serial data as in 9600 baud rig control. If you start doing things like using control signals to key CW or to toggle direct FSK then you can run into timing issues with some USB->232 converters.


That makes a lot of sense.  I use a Winkeyer USB for that reason.  Even using an on-board RS-232 card isn't immune to timing problems when sending CW because of OS timing issues.

Anyway, I agree with you 100% -- the RS-232 card is a better solution for the task at hand.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 14, 2012, 05:39:18 PM
It sure has been a spirited debate!


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K1CJS on February 19, 2012, 09:53:36 AM
I know its rather late in the debate, but I just wanted to comment on the post that stated that there probavly wouldn't be any sources of serial port plug in cards around much longer.  If you look on the internet, excepting for some of the wildly outdates older plug in boards and such, there are parts on various sites for sale--both new in box and used. 

Also there are sites on the 'net that have drivers for various cards--even if the companies that made those cards are out of business or have merged with other companies.  I would be very, VERY surprised if the various sources of serial cards dried up much--if at all--over the next decade or so.  The serial port is just that popular--AND that widespread.  And, as someone else said, there are just too many devices that still use the RS232 standard for the manufacturers to stop making them altogether very soon.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 19, 2012, 10:20:02 AM
Wishing does not change that 232 is dying. Only old equipment design keep it alive but that will change too. Not only does USB have a lot of flexibility and growth potential. there is no RTS/DTS or baud rate to set or worry about unless you are emulating a comm port for a legacy device.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: STAYVERTICAL on February 20, 2012, 03:39:32 PM
Interesting discussion, sort of like watching the characters in Hamlet fighting over Ophelia's corpse in the graveyard.

In my opinion, the future will be networked and both RS232 and USB will be essentially relegated to PC accessory interfacing, where networked solutions are not worthwhile.
For example, it is common these days to have a Network Storage Unit (networked hard disk), which just grabs an IP address from a DHCP server (commonly in a router/modem), and media units which will find any NSU's and play the content on demand.
It is a simple, elegant, well understood, cheap solution which allows Gigabit speeds (1000Mb/s) which exceeds the USB2 480Mb/s.
In addition, the use of an IP interface on a radio would allow simple programming for both TCP and UDP protocols using the standard port addressing schemes familiar to network programming.

Commercially however, manufacturers will no doubt be conservative and assume that in the short term most hams would have a USB or RS232C port and so opt for that interface to maximise their customer base.
As networking becomes more pervasive however, and users become accustomed to networked devices, I am sure ham radio transceivers will become network ready, with all the attendant advantages.
TCP/IP networking has the advantage that the physical media layer is separated from the higher layers, so the interface can be implemented with WIFI, Ethernet or Fibre optics for example, so cutting the chains of physical compatibilty that bind so many other interfaces, including RS232 and USB.

Consider that when that day comes, the transceiver will be able to be left in a cupboard (suitably ventilated of course), and the station operated from your laptop with the audio going Voice Over IP, or it can still be next to you as you wish.
Add a wireless router and you can be operating from just about any location.

USB has its advantages, but when all is said and done, it is only a glorified RS232 interface, which is intended for local use, much like the old printer centronics interface.
USB 3 for example has a top speed of 5Gb/s, but is range limited, hard to fit with connectors and its cables are bulky and expensive - good for a local high speed interface to disks for example, but nowhere as versatile as an ethernet interface.

I suspect it may be quite a while before we get to a large base of network ready transceivers, and we will have to go through a few lesser technologies, but like the Juggernaut, it rolls slowly, but is unstoppable.

73s


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 20, 2012, 04:28:02 PM
It has been a "fun" debate and not nasty either:)


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K1CJS on February 24, 2012, 03:54:43 AM
Wishing does not change that 232 is dying. Only old equipment design keep it alive but that will change too. Not only does USB have a lot of flexibility and growth potential. there is no RTS/DTS or baud rate to set or worry about unless you are emulating a comm port for a legacy device.

If you look at things in that way, PCs are dying too and soon will be replaced with devices like the Kindle, which will pull data from a central server in the home or building where that device is being used.  It's amazing how today's technology is tomorrow's outdated, outmoded 'antiques', yet those antiques are still around, live and kicking, after years of being relegated to antique or outmoded status.

Take the 5 1/4 inch disk drive.  By today's standards, the disks hold a miniscule amount of data and the drives are dynosaurs--but they're still available, if you care to spend the money to get one.  The RS 232 is more popular than that--and it's my contention that they will be available for years and years to come.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 24, 2012, 05:53:57 AM

If you look at things in that way, PCs are dying too and soon will be replaced with devices like the Kindle, which will pull data from a central server in the home or building where that device is being used.  It's amazing how today's technology is tomorrow's outdated, outmoded 'antiques', yet those antiques are still around, live and kicking, after years of being relegated to antique or outmoded status.


I do not see tablet displacing PC totally anytime soon. Tablets lack I/O interfaces and flexibility of a PC and cannot remotely compete with one in raw HP. As far as "antique" PC's still kicking it is not because they are more than capable but rather because people the still use them limit what they do with that PC in order to use them just like those that cling to 232 standards.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: KD4SBY on February 26, 2012, 08:39:55 AM
There are always people that want the fastest, latest gadget, and would scowl at RS232 communications as being old and obsolete.
As for me, I would recommend to anyone to have at least one RS232 port available, regardless of the age of the computer. That is because there are programs out there in Cyber Space that are considered obsolete, but are fun to use, and they often will require such a port.
Having said that, I like to explain that I am not just talking about Ham Radio, but in general terms. I assume that you do not have a computer just for Ham Radio, but for all kinds of uses. And there is were the Serial Port becomes handy to have. There is tons of software out there, on any conceivable subject, and you may find something you might be interested in there that requires a RS232 port because it is old and no longer supported. Fat chance that it uses a USB port, it was not even invented when those programs were  written!
Case in point is my interest in older computers, with their now obsolete processors, IDEs, assemblers and debuggers. All RS-232 based. And that is only one subject. There must be more of them.
So, my advice again is, get a RS-232 port if you do not have one. Just in case! And believe me, RS-232 to USB converters do not always work as you want them to. I know! I have been there!


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: W8JX on February 26, 2012, 08:46:00 AM
Case in point is my interest in older computers, with their now obsolete processors, IDEs, assemblers and debuggers. All RS-232 based. And that is only one subject. There must be more of them.

Better stock up on IDE drives too because they are getting scarce as they like the 232 are also obsolete.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K3WEC on March 01, 2012, 09:21:08 PM
I know its rather late in the debate, but I just wanted to comment on the post that stated that there probavly wouldn't be any sources of serial port plug in cards around much longer.  If you look on the internet, excepting for some of the wildly outdates older plug in boards and such, there are parts on various sites for sale--both new in box and used. 

Also there are sites on the 'net that have drivers for various cards--even if the companies that made those cards are out of business or have merged with other companies.  I would be very, VERY surprised if the various sources of serial cards dried up much--if at all--over the next decade or so.  The serial port is just that popular--AND that widespread.  And, as someone else said, there are just too many devices that still use the RS232 standard for the manufacturers to stop making them altogether very soon.

Yes, there are sources now, mostly cards and "dongles."  The primary customers that need these legacy ports are enterprise retail customers that use PC cash drawer solutions in which the cash drawer/scanners/wands use the old legacy ports.   Another is a limited (very limited) amount of healthcare customers.  When I say primary customers, I mean those that make it worthwhile to continue offering a solution of some sort, at this time,  to maintain customer satisfaction.  The rest of the legacy port user population is not even worth mentioning in terms of # of PC units purchased...and it's the volume that makes the decisions within the industry.

Don't be surprised when the VGA port goes away in a couple years too.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K3WEC on March 01, 2012, 09:30:27 PM

I do not see tablet displacing PC totally anytime soon. Tablets lack I/O interfaces and flexibility of a PC and cannot remotely compete with one in raw HP.

Agreed, but we will see a convergence to devices that combine the technologies.   We are already seeing ultrabooks.   In the not-so-distant future, you probably won't be able to buy a laptop that doesn't have touch capability. 

Things will be abandoned and gained in the convergence process.   I do not believe that the big clunky PC that sits on top or under the desk will be what we're buying 5 years from now.


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: K8SI on March 09, 2012, 06:14:16 PM
Well, as I see it from my perspective, my radio has a serial port, and with all the problems I've had getting USB converters to work, I chose to get a PCI Express 2-port card.  Cheap, available and simple enough to install and set up.  I don't see any reason to fight with the converters at this point...yeah, old technology, but it works.  If and when I get a newer rig, I worry about it then.  I have better things to do with my time than fight with the new tech stuff every time I reboot my computer.  I do use USB gear (Winkeyer USB, SignaLink USB, etc.), but my radio is native RS-232, so I figure why not give it what it wants? Just my opinion, YMMV!
73,
Jim  K8SI


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: KC8Y on March 11, 2012, 04:12:03 PM
I've acquired a PC in Dec, 2010...It had NO RS232 ports, only 4-USB ports.  I also have fairly new accessories (7) & not one of them have connections using the RS-232...Had to purchase an additional USB-Extender (8), since I use my PC for additional tasks...Glad I did...

Ken-KC8Y





Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: NW0LF on April 04, 2012, 11:12:33 AM
I have to agree with AA4PB.  On my job, we have VERY specialized printers that use high density parallel printer cables.  I am talking 5 figure American made printers, not cheap foreign equipment.  I know this is a serial converter discussion but I want to point out that these printers do not work with USB to parallel adapters.  We tried a number of them and could not get them to work.  For the new equipment deployed we have our latest and greatest core i7 laptops but for these printers, we still have our old Dell latitude D600 laptops with parallel ports and will continue to use these for testing until the last of the old printers are removed from the field. I would prefer to use legacy cards based on that experience, though I have used a USB to serial adapter in the past.  And yes, I do have a computer dedicated to only ham use- an older dual monitor Dell Optiplex GX270 running Win7( just fine thank you) with a MB serial and parallel port and an add on 6 port USB 2.0 card for a total of 12 USB ports.  I use the USB ports with flash drives for HRD database backup and Windows readyboost,  but have the serial port for either my MFJ sound card interface or Small Wonder Labs PSK20 transceiver kit if I want to go digital.  Oh, by the way, I do also have a stash of IDE hard drives  :D.

Wolfie, K9WLF


Title: RE: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?
Post by: KM3K on April 18, 2012, 11:52:17 AM
They are only as problematic as you make them. I find them to be very reliable.
The person, who wrote these sentences, must lead a charmed life.

I personally have had problems with two different kinds of USB-to-RS232 adapters connected to my Dell laptop running Vista:
1. RadioShack's Gigaware works with my AIM-4170 and the Keyspan won't (please note that W5BIG and I spent days trying to get the Keyspan to work the AIM).
2. Keyspan worked with my Yaesu FT-950 via Logger32 but RadioShack's Gigaware won't.
Figure that conundrum out. :)

Now, because my grandchildren do their homework on the laptop, I've bought a new HP-Pavilion p6-2021 running 64-bit Windows7 and neither adapter works my FT-950.
Just to comment....I have the latest drivers from the respective manufacturer's website and do pay proper attention to COM-ports, baud-rate, etc.

Interestingly enough, my six year old Dell desktop with its built-in RS232:
1. ran the AIM4170 with no problems,
2. does everything very nicely in Logger32.

Life is too short to waste on getting USB-to-RS232 adapters to function; I'm now shopping for a RS232-card for the HP.
73 Jerry KM3K