Discussion:
[Elecraft] [K3] Built in USB interface for K3
Allan G Duncan
2010-05-21 10:56:44 UTC
Permalink
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.

http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf

It is a USB/RS232 converter built into the same form factor as a PCB
mounting DB9 connector as used in the
Elecraft KIO3 module. This has the advantage that the existing DB9 connector
on the KIO3 could be carefully
desoldered and replaced with the new FTDI connector. This would provide a
neat way of providing a rear panel
USB (mini B type) connector on the rear panel of the K3.
From looking at the specification sheet the "DB9-USB-F" would be a drop in
replacement for the existing
DB9-F on the KIO3 without any track cutting etc. A neat solution.

Personally, I am happy with the K3 RS232 connection and external USB/RS232
cable but I can see the attraction
for some of a built in USB interface. I have always found the FTDI device
drivers to be stable and work well
with the K3 Utility under both Windows XP and Windows 7.

If anyone does try it, I'd be interested in how they find this "USB
conversion". Note that this will NOT
work with the K2 KIO2 as it is not a standard RS232 DB9 connector.


Usual disclaimers apply - I have no connection with FTDI and have not tried
the device myself.

73

Allan
GM4ZUK
Bill VanAlstyne W5WVO
2010-05-21 11:29:01 UTC
Permalink
This looks extremely cool. However, it doesn't appear that Mouser or
Digi-Key in the US are carrying it yet, so getting one-off quantities might
be problematic until the retail distribution chain catches up.

Obviously a possibility here for Elecraft to offer the KIO3 in either
version (RS-232 or USB connector) as an ordering option, if they've a mind
to...

Thanks, Allan.

Bill W5WVO
New Mexico

--------------------------------------------------
From: "Allan G Duncan" <allan.duncan at allanduncan.co.uk>
Sent: Friday, May 21, 2010 4:56 AM
To: <elecraft at mailman.qth.net>
Subject: [Elecraft] [K3] Built in USB interface for K3
Post by Allan G Duncan
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
It is a USB/RS232 converter built into the same form factor as a PCB
mounting DB9 connector as used in the
Elecraft KIO3 module. This has the advantage that the existing DB9 connector
on the KIO3 could be carefully
desoldered and replaced with the new FTDI connector. This would provide a
neat way of providing a rear panel
USB (mini B type) connector on the rear panel of the K3.
From looking at the specification sheet the "DB9-USB-F" would be a drop in
replacement for the existing
DB9-F on the KIO3 without any track cutting etc. A neat solution.
Personally, I am happy with the K3 RS232 connection and external USB/RS232
cable but I can see the attraction
for some of a built in USB interface. I have always found the FTDI device
drivers to be stable and work well
with the K3 Utility under both Windows XP and Windows 7.
If anyone does try it, I'd be interested in how they find this "USB
conversion". Note that this will NOT
work with the K2 KIO2 as it is not a standard RS232 DB9 connector.
Usual disclaimers apply - I have no connection with FTDI and have not tried
the device myself.
73
Allan
GM4ZUK
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Lyle Johnson
2010-05-21 12:47:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill VanAlstyne W5WVO
Obviously a possibility here for Elecraft to offer the KIO3 in either
version (RS-232 or USB connector) as an ordering option, if they've a mind
to...
There are a few issues here:

1) Does the internal RS232 charge pump have harmonics in any Amateur
bands? Are they audible?

In the KIO3 we took great pains to not use a charge pump based RS232
level shifter since this circuitry is extremely close to the KXV3(A)
which may carry the Rx Antenna path. Instead, we created a clean
oscillator at audio and derived the necessary negative bias voltages
from it.

The RS232 interface is also right next to the KRX3 SubReceiver antenna
input. One must be very careful about noise management here -- or go to
use of castings and lots of internal shields like some radios use.

2) For an internal USB interface, we'd like to see Rx Audio (stereo) and
Tx audio, along with FSK, in a way that requires no special drivers for
most computers running most current or recent OSes. This reduces
cabling requirements. Conceptually, think of a microHAM device (or
Navigator, RigExpert Plus, ...) internal to the radio.

3) For the present configuration, you need a cable between the K3's
RS232 port and the computer. Changing to an internal USB<->RS232
adapter does not reduce or simplify cabling requirements, and in fact
reduces the flexibility of the radio's interface!

4) Some products, like the P3, interpose themselves into the RS232
control path in a daisy-chain fashion. If the RS232 is changed to USB
on the K3, the interposing device either needs to become a USB host
(perhaps USB-OTG is sufficient) or an intelligent "bridge" device. This
is far more complex and potentially much more costly than the present
solution. Again, the RS232 interface appears to be the better choice at
present.

Enjoy!

73,

Lyle KK7P
Jens Petersen
2010-05-21 12:29:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Allan G Duncan
If anyone does try it, I'd be interested in how they find this "USB
conversion". Note that this will NOT
work with the K2 KIO2 as it is not a standard RS232 DB9 connector.
And if you do it on your K3, it will not work with the P3.
--
OV1A Jens

Drive the way you wish your children would.
Don Wilhelm
2010-05-21 13:09:57 UTC
Permalink
Those making a mod of that nature to a K2 (or any other radio) take on a
new responsibility.

If anyone makes such a change and subsequently sells their K3, I would
hope that the sale would include a CD with the latest drivers for any OS
that could possibly be used with the K3.
Plain RS-232 does not need drivers - USB does, and those drivers are OS
dependent and OS level dependent.
When you are working out in the field with your laptop and your USB K3,
internet access to download new drivers may not be available.

73,
Don W3FPR
Post by Allan G Duncan
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
lstavenhagen
2010-05-21 13:33:22 UTC
Permalink
I agree with Don. Of the available choices for a computer interface in this
instance, RS-232 is probably still the best one. Or to put it more
realistically, it's the least miserable. Especially when dealing with truly
garbagey OS software like Windows... Oops, was that my outside voice
talking?

Fortunately, the Prolific chipset seems to work pretty good and I have heard
good reports on the FTDI adapters as well.

But IMO Elecraft is doing the right thing by staying out of the mess with
USB for now....

73,
LS
W5QD
--
View this message in context: http://elecraft.365791.n2.nabble.com/K3-Built-in-USB-interface-for-K3-tp5083750p5084230.html
Sent from the Elecraft mailing list archive at Nabble.com.
Guy Olinger K2AV
2010-05-21 13:57:33 UTC
Permalink
As we move forward with OS versions, Don touches on a difference, that
RS232 does not need a driver. Let it also be understood, that
Microsoft does NOT, repeat, DOES NOT supply USB device drivers, BY
DESIGN. A virtual RS232 port that appears in the hardware listing and
surfaces in a real RS232 on the other side of some converter is a USER
device. This was a flexibility wanted by the industry to sell new
gadgets, code stuff when the they (not Microsoft) wanted to, and not
have to bother with waiting for Microsoft to integrate it.

As a courtesy Microsoft distributes "certified" drivers via their
updates. But MS does not support them.

The responsibility for keeping USB device drivers functioning in spite
of operating system changes, resides with the programmers of user
software and USB devices. Whether one agrees with that division is up
for debate, but whether that's the way it is now, for good or bad, is
a fact. What is also apparent, is that the makers and programmers of
such devices are all for the new sales, but not so interested in
maintenance once the big bux have been raked in. Are you surprised?

Once a USB port device is implanted in a K3, Elecraft becomes slave to
all the OS issues, many still unresolved, especially with W7 64 bit,
and will be responsible for keeping up with all the OS changes
affecting USB to RS232. The popular ham programs are still expecting
RS232, whether real or virtual. My question is why on earth would
anyone want to stick their foot into that bear trap, and then spend
the next decade dragging that chain around.

USB is law of the jungle, with order just barely being maintained.
Drivers will get tested for the big bux, high volume stuff, and
ignored for everything else, unless there is someone like Microham,
who depends on them, who will bite, bitch, annoy, bash and
continuously robo-call a chip maker until they come up with a fix for
something in a driver that's screwing them to the wall.

That's really a swamp. You sure you really want to go with devices
embedded in the K3? At least USB/RS232 converter cords have larger
separate audiences, whose larger volume will get some testing. AND if
they finally refuse to upgrade, you can toss it and go get someone
else's version and try again. How do you do that if the device is
embedded in the K3? Just gonna trust that there's still a programmer
assigned long term in some chip company to deal with keeping up with
the OS, trust that they're gonna stay in business. Wanna pay for the
keep up with Microsoft cost embedded in anything you buy from
Elecraft?

Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232. Maybe
there's a reason?

Careful what you wish for.

73, Guy
Post by Don Wilhelm
Those making a mod of that nature to a K2 (or any other radio) take on a
new responsibility.
If anyone makes such a change and subsequently sells their K3, I would
hope that the sale would include a CD with the latest drivers for any OS
that could possibly be used with the K3.
Plain RS-232 does not need drivers - USB does, and those drivers are OS
dependent and OS level dependent.
When you are working out in the field with your laptop and your USB K3,
internet access to download new drivers may not be available.
73,
Don W3FPR
Post by Allan G Duncan
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
______________________________________________________________
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Phil Hystad
2010-05-21 14:05:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Guy Olinger K2AV
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232. Maybe
there's a reason?
This is a very surprising statement. The only RS232 interfaces I see
lingering around are from the ham radio community. So, do you mean
the ham radio "industry"?

And, I know that I have lived in the Apple Mac world for a long time but I
am finding it hard to understand why USB requires custom device drivers
on Windows. I know that I do not need that on my Mac computer. The
only time I have ever needed to install a custom driver for USB is because
of the ham radio RS232 interface needs.
Post by Guy Olinger K2AV
As we move forward with OS versions, Don touches on a difference, that
RS232 does not need a driver. Let it also be understood, that
Microsoft does NOT, repeat, DOES NOT supply USB device drivers, BY
DESIGN. A virtual RS232 port that appears in the hardware listing and
surfaces in a real RS232 on the other side of some converter is a USER
device. This was a flexibility wanted by the industry to sell new
gadgets, code stuff when the they (not Microsoft) wanted to, and not
have to bother with waiting for Microsoft to integrate it.
As a courtesy Microsoft distributes "certified" drivers via their
updates. But MS does not support them.
The responsibility for keeping USB device drivers functioning in spite
of operating system changes, resides with the programmers of user
software and USB devices. Whether one agrees with that division is up
for debate, but whether that's the way it is now, for good or bad, is
a fact. What is also apparent, is that the makers and programmers of
such devices are all for the new sales, but not so interested in
maintenance once the big bux have been raked in. Are you surprised?
Once a USB port device is implanted in a K3, Elecraft becomes slave to
all the OS issues, many still unresolved, especially with W7 64 bit,
and will be responsible for keeping up with all the OS changes
affecting USB to RS232. The popular ham programs are still expecting
RS232, whether real or virtual. My question is why on earth would
anyone want to stick their foot into that bear trap, and then spend
the next decade dragging that chain around.
USB is law of the jungle, with order just barely being maintained.
Drivers will get tested for the big bux, high volume stuff, and
ignored for everything else, unless there is someone like Microham,
who depends on them, who will bite, bitch, annoy, bash and
continuously robo-call a chip maker until they come up with a fix for
something in a driver that's screwing them to the wall.
That's really a swamp. You sure you really want to go with devices
embedded in the K3? At least USB/RS232 converter cords have larger
separate audiences, whose larger volume will get some testing. AND if
they finally refuse to upgrade, you can toss it and go get someone
else's version and try again. How do you do that if the device is
embedded in the K3? Just gonna trust that there's still a programmer
assigned long term in some chip company to deal with keeping up with
the OS, trust that they're gonna stay in business. Wanna pay for the
keep up with Microsoft cost embedded in anything you buy from
Elecraft?
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232. Maybe
there's a reason?
Careful what you wish for.
73, Guy
Post by Don Wilhelm
Those making a mod of that nature to a K2 (or any other radio) take on a
new responsibility.
If anyone makes such a change and subsequently sells their K3, I would
hope that the sale would include a CD with the latest drivers for any OS
that could possibly be used with the K3.
Plain RS-232 does not need drivers - USB does, and those drivers are OS
dependent and OS level dependent.
When you are working out in the field with your laptop and your USB K3,
internet access to download new drivers may not be available.
73,
Don W3FPR
Post by Allan G Duncan
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
______________________________________________________________
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Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.htm
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Guy Olinger K2AV
2010-05-21 14:16:27 UTC
Permalink
Well, just as a single example, for bench scales which are connected
to a data processing device, see

http://www.scalesgalore.com/pindustry.htm

For those scales which have remoting as standard or an option, *some*
of them have optional USB, but ALL remotables have RS232.

RS232 very much alive in general industry.

73, Guy.
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232. ?Maybe
there's a reason?
This is a very surprising statement. ?The only RS232 interfaces I see
lingering around are from the ham radio community. ?So, do you mean
the ham radio "industry"?
And, I know that I have lived in the Apple Mac world for a long time but I
am finding it hard to understand why USB requires custom device drivers
on Windows. ?I know that I do not need that on my Mac computer. ?The
only time I have ever needed to install a custom driver for USB is because
of the ham radio RS232 interface needs.
As we move forward with OS versions, Don touches on a difference, that
RS232 does not need a driver. ?Let it also be understood, that
Microsoft does NOT, repeat, DOES NOT supply USB device drivers, BY
DESIGN. ?A virtual RS232 port that appears in the hardware listing and
surfaces in a real RS232 on the other side of some converter is a USER
device. ?This was a flexibility wanted by the industry to sell new
gadgets, code stuff when the they (not Microsoft) wanted to, and not
have to bother with waiting for Microsoft to integrate it.
As a courtesy Microsoft distributes "certified" drivers via their
updates. But MS does not support them.
The responsibility for keeping USB device drivers functioning in spite
of operating system changes, resides with the programmers of user
software and USB devices. ?Whether one agrees with that division is up
for debate, but whether that's the way it is now, for good or bad, is
a fact. ?What is also apparent, is that the makers and programmers of
such devices are all for the new sales, but not so interested in
maintenance once the big bux have been raked in. ?Are you surprised?
Once a USB port device is implanted in a K3, Elecraft becomes slave to
all the OS issues, many still unresolved, especially with W7 64 bit,
and will be responsible for keeping up with all the OS changes
affecting USB to RS232. The popular ham programs are still expecting
RS232, whether real or virtual. My question is why on earth would
anyone want to stick their foot into that bear trap, and then spend
the next decade dragging that chain around.
USB is law of the jungle, with order just barely being maintained.
Drivers will get tested for the big bux, high volume stuff, and
ignored for everything else, unless there is someone like Microham,
who depends on them, who will bite, bitch, annoy, bash and
continuously robo-call a chip maker until they come up with a fix for
something in a driver that's screwing them to the wall.
That's really a swamp. ?You sure you really want to go with devices
embedded in the K3? ?At least USB/RS232 converter cords have larger
separate audiences, whose larger volume will get some testing. AND if
they finally refuse to upgrade, you can toss it and go get someone
else's version and try again. ?How do you do that if the device is
embedded in the K3? ?Just gonna trust that there's still a programmer
assigned long term in some chip company to deal with keeping up with
the OS, trust that they're gonna stay in business. Wanna pay for the
keep up with Microsoft cost embedded in anything you buy from
Elecraft?
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232. ?Maybe
there's a reason?
Careful what you wish for.
73, Guy
Those making a mod of that nature to a K2 (or any other radio) take on a
new responsibility.
If anyone makes such a change and subsequently sells their K3, I would
hope that the sale would include a CD with the latest drivers for any OS
that could possibly be used with the K3.
Plain RS-232 does not need drivers - USB does, and those drivers are OS
dependent and OS level dependent.
When you are working out in the field with your laptop and your USB K3,
internet access to download new drivers may not be available.
73,
Don W3FPR
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
______________________________________________________________
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Phil Hystad
2010-05-21 14:43:18 UTC
Permalink
With the exception of ham radio, I seriously doubt that I could find and buy
a device that needs RS232. I understand that there might be a device that
supports RS232 for some old equipment needs. Or, even devices, as the
cited example that for some reason continues to use RS232. And, I can
understand some of those reasons from technical perspective but I don't
think this is relevant to the issue with ham radio or to all the other devices
that we (in this ham radio community) belong to. In my opinion, the only
argument for ham radio having RS232 is because there are still old
computers out there that do not support USB and the ham radio community
is playing to that crowd. Personally, I think this is a mistake because you
don't see other kinds of devices making that sacrifice.

And, by devices that I might buy, let me categorize them a bit. They
fall into classes such as: audio devices such as speakers or microphones,
card interfaces such as smart cards, memory sticks, biometric readers,
and even my Fluke DVM, or various communication devices such as a
modem or a speakerphone, or how about keyboards, joysticks, drawing
tablets, other mass storage such as hard drives, CD drives, digital
camera interfaces, and media players, or then there are printers of
all various kinds, and digital camcorders, webcams, so on and so forth.

This is all quite the industry and they are all USB and I doubt that I
could buy a device of the kinds I mention here and have it not be
implicitly USB (new that is, since I agree old stuff exists that uses RS232).

The cited example (below) is nice but I have no need to buy a scale and
plug it into my computer. However, if I did, I bet that I would find one
that is USB.

About device drivers -- by the way, on my Mac computer, I don't think
I would need a device driver for any of the devices that I mention
above. I have not tried them all but I do know that the exposed USB I/O
interface supports them so that you can write ordinary non-kernel
applications that interface to them without the need of a custom
driver (which I call a program that runs in kernel mode and must
be installed separately from the application).

73, phil, K7PEH
Post by Guy Olinger K2AV
Well, just as a single example, for bench scales which are connected
to a data processing device, see
http://www.scalesgalore.com/pindustry.htm
For those scales which have remoting as standard or an option, *some*
of them have optional USB, but ALL remotables have RS232.
RS232 very much alive in general industry.
73, Guy.
Post by Guy Olinger K2AV
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232. Maybe
there's a reason?
This is a very surprising statement. The only RS232 interfaces I see
lingering around are from the ham radio community. So, do you mean
the ham radio "industry"?
And, I know that I have lived in the Apple Mac world for a long time but I
am finding it hard to understand why USB requires custom device drivers
on Windows. I know that I do not need that on my Mac computer. The
only time I have ever needed to install a custom driver for USB is because
of the ham radio RS232 interface needs.
As we move forward with OS versions, Don touches on a difference, that
RS232 does not need a driver. Let it also be understood, that
Microsoft does NOT, repeat, DOES NOT supply USB device drivers, BY
DESIGN. A virtual RS232 port that appears in the hardware listing and
surfaces in a real RS232 on the other side of some converter is a USER
device. This was a flexibility wanted by the industry to sell new
gadgets, code stuff when the they (not Microsoft) wanted to, and not
have to bother with waiting for Microsoft to integrate it.
As a courtesy Microsoft distributes "certified" drivers via their
updates. But MS does not support them.
The responsibility for keeping USB device drivers functioning in spite
of operating system changes, resides with the programmers of user
software and USB devices. Whether one agrees with that division is up
for debate, but whether that's the way it is now, for good or bad, is
a fact. What is also apparent, is that the makers and programmers of
such devices are all for the new sales, but not so interested in
maintenance once the big bux have been raked in. Are you surprised?
Once a USB port device is implanted in a K3, Elecraft becomes slave to
all the OS issues, many still unresolved, especially with W7 64 bit,
and will be responsible for keeping up with all the OS changes
affecting USB to RS232. The popular ham programs are still expecting
RS232, whether real or virtual. My question is why on earth would
anyone want to stick their foot into that bear trap, and then spend
the next decade dragging that chain around.
USB is law of the jungle, with order just barely being maintained.
Drivers will get tested for the big bux, high volume stuff, and
ignored for everything else, unless there is someone like Microham,
who depends on them, who will bite, bitch, annoy, bash and
continuously robo-call a chip maker until they come up with a fix for
something in a driver that's screwing them to the wall.
That's really a swamp. You sure you really want to go with devices
embedded in the K3? At least USB/RS232 converter cords have larger
separate audiences, whose larger volume will get some testing. AND if
they finally refuse to upgrade, you can toss it and go get someone
else's version and try again. How do you do that if the device is
embedded in the K3? Just gonna trust that there's still a programmer
assigned long term in some chip company to deal with keeping up with
the OS, trust that they're gonna stay in business. Wanna pay for the
keep up with Microsoft cost embedded in anything you buy from
Elecraft?
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232. Maybe
there's a reason?
Careful what you wish for.
73, Guy
Those making a mod of that nature to a K2 (or any other radio) take on a
new responsibility.
If anyone makes such a change and subsequently sells their K3, I would
hope that the sale would include a CD with the latest drivers for any OS
that could possibly be used with the K3.
Plain RS-232 does not need drivers - USB does, and those drivers are OS
dependent and OS level dependent.
When you are working out in the field with your laptop and your USB K3,
internet access to download new drivers may not be available.
73,
Don W3FPR
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
______________________________________________________________
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Guy Olinger K2AV
2010-05-21 15:15:43 UTC
Permalink
You list items where the processing is PC-based, and the devices blend
with consumer applicaitons.

Beyond that are industrial devices with embedded robotics in
applications where software absolutely cannot be changed based on
anything other than that company's own internal needs, the world of
IBM and Unix mainframes, of devices that are expected to have
decades-long investment lives, and such things as exposing one's
company to externally imposed OS device protocol changes requiring
matching internal coding and debugging to stay working, is a
career-ending mistake. This is an environment where the OS is
required to support 20 year old code without imposed changes, and the
equivalent of CTL-ALT-DELETE to fix an unrepaired problem in the OS
can take a factory off-line for an hour or more resulting in hundreds
of thousands of dollars, or even millions, in loss per hour. This is
not the world of the mass consumer/Microsoft paradigm where is "old"
always "bad" because they want to sell you something new. This is the
world where you will find x86 processors running on specialty
motherboards, and STILL running OS/2.

You're entitled to your preferences, for sure, but I hope that I don't
have your preferences imposed on me :>).

73, Guy.
Post by Phil Hystad
With the exception of ham radio, I seriously doubt that I could find and buy
a device that needs RS232. ?I understand that there might be a device that
supports RS232 for some old equipment needs. ?Or, even devices, as the
cited example that for some reason continues to use RS232. ?And, I can
understand some of those reasons from technical perspective but I don't
think this is relevant to the issue with ham radio or to all the other devices
that we (in this ham radio community) belong to. ?In my opinion, the only
argument for ham radio having RS232 is because there are still old
computers out there that do not support USB and the ham radio community
is playing to that crowd. ?Personally, I think this is a mistake because you
don't see other kinds of devices making that sacrifice.
And, by devices that I might buy, let me categorize them a bit. ?They
fall into classes such as: audio devices such as speakers or microphones,
card interfaces such as smart cards, memory sticks, biometric readers,
and even my Fluke DVM, or various communication devices such as a
modem or a speakerphone, or how about keyboards, joysticks, drawing
tablets, other mass storage such as hard drives, CD drives, digital
camera interfaces, and media players, or then there are printers of
all various kinds, and digital camcorders, webcams, so on and so forth.
This is all quite the industry and they are all USB and I doubt that I
could buy a device of the kinds I mention here and have it not be
implicitly USB ?(new that is, since I agree old stuff exists that uses RS232).
The cited example (below) is nice but I have no need to buy a scale and
plug it into my computer. ?However, if I did, I bet that I would find one
that is USB.
About device drivers -- by the way, on my Mac computer, I don't think
I would need a device driver for any of the devices that I mention
above. ?I have not tried them all but I do know that the exposed USB I/O
interface supports them so that you can write ordinary non-kernel
applications that interface to them without the need of a custom
driver (which I call a program that runs in kernel mode and must
be installed separately from the application).
73, phil, K7PEH
Post by Guy Olinger K2AV
Well, just as a single example, for bench scales which are connected
to a data processing device, see
http://www.scalesgalore.com/pindustry.htm
For those scales which have remoting as standard or an option, *some*
of them have optional USB, but ALL remotables have RS232.
RS232 very much alive in general industry.
73, Guy.
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232. ?Maybe
there's a reason?
This is a very surprising statement. ?The only RS232 interfaces I see
lingering around are from the ham radio community. ?So, do you mean
the ham radio "industry"?
And, I know that I have lived in the Apple Mac world for a long time but I
am finding it hard to understand why USB requires custom device drivers
on Windows. ?I know that I do not need that on my Mac computer. ?The
only time I have ever needed to install a custom driver for USB is because
of the ham radio RS232 interface needs.
As we move forward with OS versions, Don touches on a difference, that
RS232 does not need a driver. ?Let it also be understood, that
Microsoft does NOT, repeat, DOES NOT supply USB device drivers, BY
DESIGN. ?A virtual RS232 port that appears in the hardware listing and
surfaces in a real RS232 on the other side of some converter is a USER
device. ?This was a flexibility wanted by the industry to sell new
gadgets, code stuff when the they (not Microsoft) wanted to, and not
have to bother with waiting for Microsoft to integrate it.
As a courtesy Microsoft distributes "certified" drivers via their
updates. But MS does not support them.
The responsibility for keeping USB device drivers functioning in spite
of operating system changes, resides with the programmers of user
software and USB devices. ?Whether one agrees with that division is up
for debate, but whether that's the way it is now, for good or bad, is
a fact. ?What is also apparent, is that the makers and programmers of
such devices are all for the new sales, but not so interested in
maintenance once the big bux have been raked in. ?Are you surprised?
Once a USB port device is implanted in a K3, Elecraft becomes slave to
all the OS issues, many still unresolved, especially with W7 64 bit,
and will be responsible for keeping up with all the OS changes
affecting USB to RS232. The popular ham programs are still expecting
RS232, whether real or virtual. My question is why on earth would
anyone want to stick their foot into that bear trap, and then spend
the next decade dragging that chain around.
USB is law of the jungle, with order just barely being maintained.
Drivers will get tested for the big bux, high volume stuff, and
ignored for everything else, unless there is someone like Microham,
who depends on them, who will bite, bitch, annoy, bash and
continuously robo-call a chip maker until they come up with a fix for
something in a driver that's screwing them to the wall.
That's really a swamp. ?You sure you really want to go with devices
embedded in the K3? ?At least USB/RS232 converter cords have larger
separate audiences, whose larger volume will get some testing. AND if
they finally refuse to upgrade, you can toss it and go get someone
else's version and try again. ?How do you do that if the device is
embedded in the K3? ?Just gonna trust that there's still a programmer
assigned long term in some chip company to deal with keeping up with
the OS, trust that they're gonna stay in business. Wanna pay for the
keep up with Microsoft cost embedded in anything you buy from
Elecraft?
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232. ?Maybe
there's a reason?
Careful what you wish for.
73, Guy
Those making a mod of that nature to a K2 (or any other radio) take on a
new responsibility.
If anyone makes such a change and subsequently sells their K3, I would
hope that the sale would include a CD with the latest drivers for any OS
that could possibly be used with the K3.
Plain RS-232 does not need drivers - USB does, and those drivers are OS
dependent and OS level dependent.
When you are working out in the field with your laptop and your USB K3,
internet access to download new drivers may not be available.
73,
Don W3FPR
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
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Don Wilhelm
2010-05-21 15:18:13 UTC
Permalink
Phil,

I would place all the devices you mentioned into the category of
"consumer devices", and that is not the same as "industry devices".

How many point of sale terminals do you see in stores that are using a
USB connection? Most (if not all) use RS-232. The connectors may be
either 9 pin or 25 pin - they may or may not be consumer PC compatible -
the 25 pin RS-232 implements a secondary port as well as the primary,
and is used by many industrial devices.
Yes, those are not consumer devices, they are things that are used in
the retail sales arena.
If you are in a manufacturing area, look at the communications interface
between devices that are being used there - they are mostly all RS-232
or some other interface that is termed "archaic and outdated" by some of
the posts on this reflector.

RS-232 and others standard interfaces are definitely not dead, and are
being used in these environments because it is reliable and it works,
and is not dependent on the whims and desires of the OS updates. These
environments also must run long distances with these communication
signals, and neither USB nor Firewire are capable of those distances -
RS-232 is.

Do not be fooled by the makers of laptop computers who are trying to
squeeze as much function as possible into a small space, and desktop
computers in the consumer market seem to be ignoring the need for RS-232
as well. Such is life in the consumer market, but I do not want to
consider my K3 as a typical consumer device that I throw away and
purchase a new one when it does not work.

73,
Don W3FPR
Post by Phil Hystad
With the exception of ham radio, I seriously doubt that I could find and buy
a device that needs RS232. I understand that there might be a device that
supports RS232 for some old equipment needs. Or, even devices, as the
cited example that for some reason continues to use RS232. And, I can
understand some of those reasons from technical perspective but I don't
think this is relevant to the issue with ham radio or to all the other devices
that we (in this ham radio community) belong to. In my opinion, the only
argument for ham radio having RS232 is because there are still old
computers out there that do not support USB and the ham radio community
is playing to that crowd. Personally, I think this is a mistake because you
don't see other kinds of devices making that sacrifice.
Brendan Minish
2010-05-21 15:29:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Phil Hystad
With the exception of ham radio, I seriously doubt that I could find and buy
a device that needs RS232. I understand that there might be a device that
supports RS232 for some old equipment needs. Or, even devices, as the
cited example that for some reason continues to use RS232.
Cisco, 3Com and Juniper Routers and switches still all use an RS232
based console port and very handy it is at times too.
It's used as the NMEA bus for pretty much all marine electronics where
here the big advantage is that you can easily have multiple devices
listening to GPS data on the same common bus
In the ham shack the same trick is used to control steppir antennas,
drive band controllers etc

I have yet to meet an X86 based server that does not have at least one
on board RS232 port and you can buy USB to rs232 converters for a couple
of Euro on Ebay

RS-232 is still be best choice for low speed serial communications for
many applications
--
73
Brendan EI6IZ
Joe Subich, W4TV
2010-05-21 16:00:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Phil Hystad
And, I know that I have lived in the Apple Mac world for a long time
but I am finding it hard to understand why USB requires custom device
drivers on Windows. I know that I do not need that on my Mac
computer. The only time I have ever needed to install a custom
driver for USB is because of the ham radio RS232 interface needs.
That is absolutely untrue as I have learned recently ...

Like Microsoft, although Apple will recognize a USB device in
System Profiler, it does not supply the drivers necessary for
the operating system to talk to those devices (e.g USBSerial).
It is the responsibility of the device manufacturer to supply
the appropriate operating system driver and install it (or
provide instructions for the user to install it manually).

In an overwhelming number of devices, USB is nothing other
than an alternative to the 8250 equivalent UART. "USB"
simply embeds the UART in the accessory device and extends
the CPU peripheral bus to the device. It is a way for the
computer manufacturer to move COSTS to the peripheral maker.

Except for very few devices, the communication between the
UART and device is a simple serial data stream - no different
than if the UART had remained in the computer and the data
transported as RS-232 signal levels. The ONLY advantage to
USB is the ability to support higher data rates - up to 3
megabits per second - for mass storage and data intensive
devices like digital cameras and other A/V devices.

73,

... Joe, W4TV
Post by Phil Hystad
Post by Guy Olinger K2AV
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232.
Maybe there's a reason?
This is a very surprising statement. The only RS232 interfaces I
see lingering around are from the ham radio community. So, do you
mean the ham radio "industry"?
And, I know that I have lived in the Apple Mac world for a long time
but I am finding it hard to understand why USB requires custom device
drivers on Windows. I know that I do not need that on my Mac
computer. The only time I have ever needed to install a custom
driver for USB is because of the ham radio RS232 interface needs.
George A. Thornton
2010-05-21 16:25:36 UTC
Permalink
This issue has been bounced around a lot and perhaps it is now overdone.

I do want to say that in my consumer experience the serial port has
always been a beast to work with. You constantly have to watch port
settings and the OS seems to change things all the time, causing the
device to fail to work properly.

By contrast, every USB device I have used has worked correctly right out
of the box, and the OS seems able to find the device and correctly
allocate it. Plus the bandwidth on USB is considerably wider, allowing
for much faster data transfer as well as the opportunity to power the
device directly from the USB connection. The only problem I have seen
is when a new OS comes out and updated drivers are not available.

The other problem with staying with serial ports is that most computers
sold today do not have them. This has been a significant problem for me
in a number of practical field uses. I have tried many USB to serial
adapters and have had wildly inconsistent results, and even where they
work they have been inconsistent and sometimes mess up the port
settings.

All that being said, I now have a USB-Serial adapter that appears to
work properly and I am prepared to move on.

If HAM radio can find a way, as most other equipment manufacturers have
done, to use USB interfaces reliably, then I will be happy. IF they
don't choose to go that way I can use the adapter. This is after all
HAM radio and we are supposed to have to tinker with the equipment.







-----Original Message-----
From: elecraft-bounces at mailman.qth.net
[mailto:elecraft-bounces at mailman.qth.net] On Behalf Of Joe Subich, W4TV
Sent: Friday, May 21, 2010 9:01 AM
To: elecraft at mailman.qth.net
Subject: Re: [Elecraft] [K3] Built in USB interface for K3
Post by Phil Hystad
And, I know that I have lived in the Apple Mac world for a long time
but I am finding it hard to understand why USB requires custom device
drivers on Windows. I know that I do not need that on my Mac
computer. The only time I have ever needed to install a custom
driver for USB is because of the ham radio RS232 interface needs.
That is absolutely untrue as I have learned recently ...

Like Microsoft, although Apple will recognize a USB device in
System Profiler, it does not supply the drivers necessary for
the operating system to talk to those devices (e.g USBSerial).
It is the responsibility of the device manufacturer to supply
the appropriate operating system driver and install it (or
provide instructions for the user to install it manually).

In an overwhelming number of devices, USB is nothing other
than an alternative to the 8250 equivalent UART. "USB"
simply embeds the UART in the accessory device and extends
the CPU peripheral bus to the device. It is a way for the
computer manufacturer to move COSTS to the peripheral maker.

Except for very few devices, the communication between the
UART and device is a simple serial data stream - no different
than if the UART had remained in the computer and the data
transported as RS-232 signal levels. The ONLY advantage to
USB is the ability to support higher data rates - up to 3
megabits per second - for mass storage and data intensive
devices like digital cameras and other A/V devices.

73,

... Joe, W4TV
Post by Phil Hystad
Post by Guy Olinger K2AV
Industrial devices are still, and remain, invested in RS232.
Maybe there's a reason?
This is a very surprising statement. The only RS232 interfaces I
see lingering around are from the ham radio community. So, do you
mean the ham radio "industry"?
And, I know that I have lived in the Apple Mac world for a long time
but I am finding it hard to understand why USB requires custom device
drivers on Windows. I know that I do not need that on my Mac
computer. The only time I have ever needed to install a custom
driver for USB is because of the ham radio RS232 interface needs.
______________________________________________________________
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Brett Howard
2010-05-23 06:21:47 UTC
Permalink
Pretty much any current OS out there at the moment supports the FTDI
USB<->RS232 adapters out of the box...

~Brett (N7MG) (Previously KC7OTG)
Post by Don Wilhelm
Those making a mod of that nature to a K2 (or any other radio) take on a
new responsibility.
If anyone makes such a change and subsequently sells their K3, I would
hope that the sale would include a CD with the latest drivers for any OS
that could possibly be used with the K3.
Plain RS-232 does not need drivers - USB does, and those drivers are OS
dependent and OS level dependent.
When you are working out in the field with your laptop and your USB K3,
internet access to download new drivers may not be available.
73,
Don W3FPR
Post by Allan G Duncan
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
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Joe Subich, W4TV
2010-05-23 17:00:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Brett Howard
Pretty much any current OS out there at the moment supports the FTDI
USB<->RS232 adapters out of the box...
Again, not the case. Current releases of Apple OS-X do not ship
with FTDI (or any other) USB hardware drivers preinstalled. The user
must install the drivers manually or run the manufacturer's installer
before the USB device will function. I've confirmed that problem with
both Kok Chen and Don Agro in the last couple weeks ... and as a result
the OS-X installation data for microHAM interfaces (which use a
standard FTDI UART) will be changed relatively soon.

73,

... Joe, W4TV
Post by Brett Howard
Pretty much any current OS out there at the moment supports the FTDI
USB<->RS232 adapters out of the box...
~Brett (N7MG) (Previously KC7OTG)
Post by Don Wilhelm
Those making a mod of that nature to a K2 (or any other radio) take on a
new responsibility.
If anyone makes such a change and subsequently sells their K3, I would
hope that the sale would include a CD with the latest drivers for any OS
that could possibly be used with the K3.
Plain RS-232 does not need drivers - USB does, and those drivers are OS
dependent and OS level dependent.
When you are working out in the field with your laptop and your USB K3,
internet access to download new drivers may not be available.
73,
Don W3FPR
Post by Allan G Duncan
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
Brett Howard
2010-05-23 20:53:22 UTC
Permalink
Ok well all versions of Linux, Windows after 2000, and even BeOS that
I've used support it out of the box... Mac people should be used to
having to find drivers for things I guess... ;)

I've had nothing but success w/ the FTDI devices and that includes
installing them into products that are sold in the 100K a year range.

~Brett (N7MG) (Previously KC7OTG)
Post by Joe Subich, W4TV
Post by Brett Howard
Pretty much any current OS out there at the moment supports the FTDI
USB<->RS232 adapters out of the box...
Again, not the case. Current releases of Apple OS-X do not ship
with FTDI (or any other) USB hardware drivers preinstalled. The user
must install the drivers manually or run the manufacturer's installer
before the USB device will function. I've confirmed that problem with
both Kok Chen and Don Agro in the last couple weeks ... and as a result
the OS-X installation data for microHAM interfaces (which use a
standard FTDI UART) will be changed relatively soon.
73,
... Joe, W4TV
Post by Brett Howard
Pretty much any current OS out there at the moment supports the FTDI
USB<->RS232 adapters out of the box...
~Brett (N7MG) (Previously KC7OTG)
Post by Don Wilhelm
Those making a mod of that nature to a K2 (or any other radio) take on a
new responsibility.
If anyone makes such a change and subsequently sells their K3, I would
hope that the sale would include a CD with the latest drivers for any OS
that could possibly be used with the K3.
Plain RS-232 does not need drivers - USB does, and those drivers are OS
dependent and OS level dependent.
When you are working out in the field with your laptop and your USB K3,
internet access to download new drivers may not be available.
73,
Don W3FPR
Post by Allan G Duncan
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
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Allan G Duncan
2010-05-21 13:55:41 UTC
Permalink
Lyle and Don both make excellent points regarding this "USB Conversion".
IMHO their posts should be ignored at your peril. I completely agree with
Don's comments regarding the driverless nature of plain RS232.

I myself was not considering this mod myself, as I stated in my original
post. I have an RS232/USB cable I purchased while in the USA last year from
Fry's for $15 which works faultlessly (FTDI chipset). It also has jackscrews
on the serial end which engage with the posts on the K3. As an owner of the
SPE Expert 1K-FA (which I use with the K3), I need the K3 RS232 port to band
switch the amplifier automatically. Band data (on the DB15HD port) is not
sufficient as the Expert needs to know exact frequency for ATU control.

The RS232 connection required by the P3 is a point I had not considered -
it's interesting the P3 does not use the Elecraft proprietary AUXBUS for
control unlike the KRC2 and XV transverters. Perhaps they are considering a
P3 version that could interface to non-Elecraft transceivers with IF outputs
and RS232 ports? Maybe the KPA500 is similar?

73

Allan
GM4ZUK
Bill W4ZV
2010-05-21 15:01:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Allan G Duncan
Perhaps they are considering a
P3 version that could interface to non-Elecraft transceivers with IF outputs
and RS232 ports? Maybe the KPA500 is similar?
I know the P3 can be used with non-Elecraft rigs and would be surprised if
the KPA500 were not designed with the same goal. It only makes sense that
Elecraft would greatly expand their potential market by designing for use
with other rigs.

73, Bill
--
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Eric Swartz - WA6HHQ, Elecraft
2010-05-21 16:53:08 UTC
Permalink
Yes, and Yes. :-)

73, Eric WA6HHQ
Elecraft
---
Post by Allan G Duncan
Perhaps they are considering a
P3 version that could interface to non-Elecraft transceivers with IF outputs
and RS232 ports? Maybe the KPA500 is similar?
I know the P3 can be used with non-Elecraft rigs and would be surprised if
the KPA500 were not designed with the same goal. It only makes sense that
Elecraft would greatly expand their potential market by designing for use
with other rigs.
73, Bill
Phil Hystad
2010-05-21 13:57:13 UTC
Permalink
But, how is this any different then using an external RS232 to USB converter cable or whatever.

My own desire is to get rid of the funky antiquated RS232 protocol that is troubled by line speed issues, signaling lines that aren't needed and so on. USB offers so much more but you lose that when you have to filter it out by converting to an RS232 device no matter where you put it.

73, phil, K7PEH
Post by Allan G Duncan
I don't wish to re-ignite the RS232 vs USB connectivity debates which have
regularly appeared on the reflector
but some K3 owners may be interested in this product recently launched by
FTDI.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Documents/DataSheets/Modules/DS_DB9-USB-RS232.pdf
It is a USB/RS232 converter built into the same form factor as a PCB
mounting DB9 connector as used in the
Elecraft KIO3 module. This has the advantage that the existing DB9 connector
on the KIO3 could be carefully
desoldered and replaced with the new FTDI connector. This would provide a
neat way of providing a rear panel
USB (mini B type) connector on the rear panel of the K3.
From looking at the specification sheet the "DB9-USB-F" would be a drop in
replacement for the existing
DB9-F on the KIO3 without any track cutting etc. A neat solution.
Personally, I am happy with the K3 RS232 connection and external USB/RS232
cable but I can see the attraction
for some of a built in USB interface. I have always found the FTDI device
drivers to be stable and work well
with the K3 Utility under both Windows XP and Windows 7.
If anyone does try it, I'd be interested in how they find this "USB
conversion". Note that this will NOT
work with the K2 KIO2 as it is not a standard RS232 DB9 connector.
Usual disclaimers apply - I have no connection with FTDI and have not tried
the device myself.
73
Allan
GM4ZUK
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Julian, G4ILO
2010-05-21 22:15:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Phil Hystad
USB offers so much more but you lose that when you have to filter it out
by converting to an RS232 device no matter where you put it.
Yes, but someone needs to write special drivers to take advantage of that
extra functionality. Not a trivial task, and it is multiplied by the number
of operating systems you need to support.

I'll wager that K3s will hold their value better than IC7600s in 10 - 15
years time because the chances are the Icom drivers won't work in whatever
OS people use then, while K3s will still be able to use plain old serial.
Come to that, how many IC7600 owners who use Linux or MacOS are able to
access that extra USB functionality today?

-----
Julian, G4ILO. K2 #392 K3 #222.
* G4ILO's Shack - http://www.g4ilo.com
* KComm - http://www.g4ilo.com/kcomm.html
* KTune - http://www.g4ilo.com/ktune.html
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Sent from the Elecraft mailing list archive at Nabble.com.
eric manning
2010-05-21 16:44:54 UTC
Permalink
PHIL HYSTAD SAID:

"This is a very surprising statement. The only RS232 interfaces I see
lingering around are from the ham radio community. So, do you mean
the ham radio "industry"?

Uh - oh. Here we go again ...

Phil, if you look in the archive of a few weeks back you will find the whole issue hashed out
at great length.
I had the same reaction as yours at the outset of the last go-round, but have been educated,enlightened.

Bottom line:

RS -232 GOOD: one mustn't be biased against it
just because it's 40 years old,
unix[tm] is also 40 years old and yet is still the standard of excellence.
Both are Golden Oldies.

USB: BAD [in the context of data communication with complex devices, e.g. radios]. See Guy's post.
--
This message has been scanned for viruses and
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Eric Swartz - WA6HHQ, Elecraft
2010-05-21 16:55:14 UTC
Permalink
Guys - Let's END this thread now. :-)

73, Eric
List Moderator
----
Post by eric manning
"This is a very surprising statement. The only RS232 interfaces I see
lingering around are from the ham radio community. So, do you mean
the ham radio "industry"?
Uh - oh. Here we go again ...
Phil, if you look in the archive of a few weeks back you will find the whole issue hashed out
at great length.
I had the same reaction as yours at the outset of the last go-round, but have been educated,enlightened.
RS -232 GOOD: one mustn't be biased against it
just because it's 40 years old,
unix[tm] is also 40 years old and yet is still the standard of excellence.
Both are Golden Oldies.
USB: BAD [in the context of data communication with complex devices, e.g. radios]. See Guy's post.
Lu Romero
2010-05-21 18:15:31 UTC
Permalink
All:

The same device has been available from Saelig for almost 9
months now:

http://www.saelig.com/USBO/USSP002.htm

Lu Romero
W4LT
K3 #3192


Date: Fri, 21 May 2010 05:29:01 -0600
From: "Bill VanAlstyne W5WVO" <w5wvo at cybermesa.net>
To: "Allan G Duncan" <allan.duncan at allanduncan.co.uk>,
<elecraft at mailman.qth.net>
Message-ID: <5E94A2CA6D8B450C811878FA815D2DB1 at BILLHP9250>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed;
charset="iso-8859-1";
reply-type=original

This looks extremely cool. However, it doesn't appear that
Mouser or
Digi-Key in the US are carrying it yet, so getting one-off
quantities might
be problematic until the retail distribution chain catches
up.

Obviously a possibility here for Elecraft to offer the KIO3
in either
version (RS-232 or USB connector) as an ordering option, if
they've a mind
to...

Thanks, Allan.

Bill W5WVO
New Mexico
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