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Author Topic: I Bought A New Personal Computer-Should I Bother Adding Serial Ports?  (Read 16536 times)
W8JX
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« Reply #30 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  Grin


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?
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AA4PB
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« Reply #31 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.

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W8JX
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« Reply #32 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.
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K3WEC
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« Reply #33 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.
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AE5QB
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« Reply #34 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!
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W8JX
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« Reply #35 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.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #36 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.
 
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W8JX
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« Reply #37 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.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 07:34:56 AM by W8JX » Logged

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K8AC
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« Reply #38 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. 
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AA4PB
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« Reply #39 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  Grin
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W8JX
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« Reply #40 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.  
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W8JX
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« Reply #41 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  Grin


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.
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AK7V
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« Reply #42 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. Smiley
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AA4PB
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« Reply #43 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.
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W8JX
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« Reply #44 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.
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