XG-3 - why RS-232

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XG-3 - why RS-232

Pete Smith N4ZR
I have lusted after the XG-3 ever since it was released, but just
noticed that it has an RS-232 port for computer connection.  Why on
earth not a USB port?

--
73, Pete N4ZR
The World Contest Station Database, updated daily at www.conteststations.com
The Reverse Beacon Network at http://reversebeacon.net, blog at reversebeacon.blogspot.com,
spots at telnet.reversebeacon.net, port 7000 and
arcluster.reversebeacon.net, port 7000

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Re: XG-3 - why RS-232

David Pratt
See many earlier posts about the relative merits of RS-232 and USB
interfaces.  They have been discussed many times before.  If your
desktop does not have a serial input, fit one. If you use a laptop or
notebook computer, get a USB to RS-232 cable.

73 de David G4DMP

In a recent message, Pete Smith N4ZR <[hidden email]> writes
>I have lusted after the XG-3 ever since it was released, but just
>noticed that it has an RS-232 port for computer connection.  Why on
>earth not a USB port?
>

--
  + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +
  | David M Pratt, Kippax, Leeds.   |
  | Website: http://www.g4dmp.co.uk |
  + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +

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Re: XG-3 - why RS-232

N8MSA
Here is a good primer on previous versions of this conversation:

http://elecraft.365791.n2.nabble.com/K3-USB-port-td5753862.html#a5753984 

I would rather have built-in USB, but will probably have to cope with RS-232 on hobby devices for years to come...


Mike Alexander

[hidden email]

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Pratt" <[hidden email]>
To: "Pete Smith N4ZR" <[hidden email]>
Cc: "Elecraft List" <[hidden email]>
Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2012 8:15:02 AM
Subject: Re: [Elecraft] XG-3 - why RS-232

See many earlier posts about the relative merits of RS-232 and USB
interfaces. They have been discussed many times before. If your
desktop does not have a serial input, fit one. If you use a laptop or
notebook computer, get a USB to RS-232 cable.

73 de David G4DMP

In a recent message, Pete Smith N4ZR <[hidden email]> writes
>I have lusted after the XG-3 ever since it was released, but just
>noticed that it has an RS-232 port for computer connection. Why on
>earth not a USB port?
>

--
+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +
| David M Pratt, Kippax, Leeds. |
| Website: http://www.g4dmp.co.uk |
+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +

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Re: XG-3 - why RS-232

Kevin Stover
In reply to this post by Pete Smith N4ZR
Probably because that would put Elecraft squarely between you and the
guy at Prolific or FTDI who writes the drivers. Who would get your
complaint when the XG3 loses connectivity with the next service pack
release of your favorite operating system?


On 05/12/2012 07:04 AM, Pete Smith N4ZR wrote:
> I have lusted after the XG-3 ever since it was released, but just
> noticed that it has an RS-232 port for computer connection.  Why on
> earth not a USB port?
>


--
R. Kevin Stover
AC0H

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Re: XG-3 - why RS-232

Pete Smith N4ZR
In reply to this post by N8MSA
Not exactly comparable to the XG-3, perhaps.  I would have thought that
a USB port would have advantages so far as space and weight, maybe even
power consumption, in a battery powered miniature device.  For those
using old computers, USB port cards for the PCI bus are absolutely dirt
cheap.

73, Pete N4ZR
The World Contest Station Database, updated daily at www.conteststations.com
The Reverse Beacon Network at http://reversebeacon.net, blog at reversebeacon.blogspot.com,
spots at telnet.reversebeacon.net, port 7000 and
arcluster.reversebeacon.net, port 7000


On 5/12/2012 8:50 AM, [hidden email] wrote:

> Here is a good primer on previous versions of this conversation:
>
> http://elecraft.365791.n2.nabble.com/K3-USB-port-td5753862.html#a5753984
>
> I would rather have built-in USB, but will probably have to cope with RS-232 on hobby devices for years to come...
>
>
> Mike Alexander
>
> [hidden email]
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "David Pratt"<[hidden email]>
> To: "Pete Smith N4ZR"<[hidden email]>
> Cc: "Elecraft List"<[hidden email]>
> Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2012 8:15:02 AM
> Subject: Re: [Elecraft] XG-3 - why RS-232
>
> See many earlier posts about the relative merits of RS-232 and USB
> interfaces. They have been discussed many times before. If your
> desktop does not have a serial input, fit one. If you use a laptop or
> notebook computer, get a USB to RS-232 cable.
>
> 73 de David G4DMP
>
> In a recent message, Pete Smith N4ZR<[hidden email]>  writes
>> I have lusted after the XG-3 ever since it was released, but just
>> noticed that it has an RS-232 port for computer connection. Why on
>> earth not a USB port?
>>
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Re: XG-3 - why RS-232

N8MSA
In reply to this post by Kevin Stover
This is another common misconception. All of the microprocessor vendors that I am aware of have built-in USB peripherals, and often have reference drivers and driver templates. Assuming that Elecraft uses MicroChip PICs, there are few reasons to add an off-package USB peripheral.

MicroChip has an excellent USB section at their website that covers USB (as it relates to their microprocessors):

http://www.microchip.com/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=1486 


Mike Alexander - N8MSA

[hidden email]

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kevin" <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2012 9:09:45 AM
Subject: Re: [Elecraft] XG-3 - why RS-232

Probably because that would put Elecraft squarely between you and the
guy at Prolific or FTDI who writes the drivers. Who would get your
complaint when the XG3 loses connectivity with the next service pack
release of your favorite operating system?


On 05/12/2012 07:04 AM, Pete Smith N4ZR wrote:
> I have lusted after the XG-3 ever since it was released, but just
> noticed that it has an RS-232 port for computer connection. Why on
> earth not a USB port?
>


--
R. Kevin Stover
AC0H

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Re: XG-3 - why RS-232

Joe Subich, W4TV-4
In reply to this post by Pete Smith N4ZR

On 5/12/2012 9:17 AM, Pete Smith N4ZR wrote:
> I would have thought that a USB port would have advantages so far as
> space and weight, maybe even power consumption, in a battery powered
> miniature device.

Not so ... many microprocessor controllers contain one or two built-in
serial ports.  It is far cheaper to adapt those TTL (or 3.3V) ports to
RS-232 "compatible" operation (typically a single line driver) than to
install a USB UART and deal with drivers for a multitude of operating
systems.

The low power line drivers consume less power, need fewer parts (no
crystal), can be smaller than the USB UART and are likely to be more
reliable.

If you *want* USB interface to the XG-3 pick up one of the USB "scanner
programming cables" - typically USB to RS_232 compatible 3.5mm stereo
plug.  I believe Elecraft have such a cable as the KXUSB (standard for
the KX3) ... I don't know if they list it separately as a spare.

73,

    ... Joe, W4TV


On 5/12/2012 9:17 AM, Pete Smith N4ZR wrote:

> Not exactly comparable to the XG-3, perhaps.  I would have thought that
> a USB port would have advantages so far as space and weight, maybe even
> power consumption, in a battery powered miniature device.  For those
> using old computers, USB port cards for the PCI bus are absolutely dirt
> cheap.
>
> 73, Pete N4ZR
> The World Contest Station Database, updated daily at www.conteststations.com
> The Reverse Beacon Network at http://reversebeacon.net, blog at reversebeacon.blogspot.com,
> spots at telnet.reversebeacon.net, port 7000 and
> arcluster.reversebeacon.net, port 7000
>
>
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Re: XG-3 - why RS-232

N8MSA
Topic by topic:

>Many microprocessor controllers have...built-in serial ports

Correct, and usually I2C, EtherNet, SPI and a host (pun intended) of communications peripherals. But even the beefy Motorola/FreeScale SCI (similar to a UART) ports need, in almost any implementation that I am familiar with, buffer circuitry - I hope no-one is routing the uC directly to a connector.

USB needs a similar buffer circuit, known as a transceiver, which provides signal-level conversion and isolation. That's it...there is no UART in the classic sense.

And RS-232 serial ports are rapidly become scarce on microcontollers...just go their websites and read the datasheets.

>The low power line drivers consume less power, need fewer parts (no crystal), can be smaller than the USB UART and are likely to be >more reliable.

Again, no-one really needs free-standing USB protocol units (chips) anymore, so the "crystal" comment is irrelevant.

Aside from peripheral power supply capability, which is optional, the signal driver power demans are actually similar, the USB using a low-voltage differential-mode signal with moderate drive currents, and RS-232 are high-voltage (5-25V), single-ended signals with low drive currents.

As for reliability...there are a thousand factors to be considered, and I don't see any data anywhere to back that up.

>If you want USB...

That's where we run into problems. "Adapters" are inherently less stable than well-implemented on-device peripherals. That's why people such as myself want native USB capability - conversion is not the same, despite assertions I have seen in this mail list and in other forums.

I realize there will be a cost delta between RS-232 and USB, and there may not be a business case on a hobby product. I can live with that on some devices, such as the XG-3, but I am really beginning to struggle with RS-232 on transceivers and similar devices. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me anymore, and that's coming from a person that has done embedded system design using both RS-232 and USB.

I'm not knocking Elecraft, but I think that, based on today's PC market and the maturity of the alternatives, the era of RS-232 as the only choice should be drawing to a close.



Mike Alexander - N8MSA

[hidden email]

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joe Subich, W4TV" <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2012 10:42:37 AM
Subject: Re: [Elecraft] XG-3 - why RS-232


On 5/12/2012 9:17 AM, Pete Smith N4ZR wrote:
> I would have thought that a USB port would have advantages so far as
> space and weight, maybe even power consumption, in a battery powered
> miniature device.

Not so ... many microprocessor controllers contain one or two built-in
serial ports. It is far cheaper to adapt those TTL (or 3.3V) ports to
RS-232 "compatible" operation (typically a single line driver) than to
install a USB UART and deal with drivers for a multitude of operating
systems.

The low power line drivers consume less power, need fewer parts (no
crystal), can be smaller than the USB UART and are likely to be more
reliable.

If you *want* USB interface to the XG-3 pick up one of the USB "scanner
programming cables" - typically USB to RS_232 compatible 3.5mm stereo
plug. I believe Elecraft have such a cable as the KXUSB (standard for
the KX3) ... I don't know if they list it separately as a spare.

73,

... Joe, W4TV


On 5/12/2012 9:17 AM, Pete Smith N4ZR wrote:

> Not exactly comparable to the XG-3, perhaps. I would have thought that
> a USB port would have advantages so far as space and weight, maybe even
> power consumption, in a battery powered miniature device. For those
> using old computers, USB port cards for the PCI bus are absolutely dirt
> cheap.
>
> 73, Pete N4ZR
> The World Contest Station Database, updated daily at www.conteststations.com
> The Reverse Beacon Network at http://reversebeacon.net, blog at reversebeacon.blogspot.com,
> spots at telnet.reversebeacon.net, port 7000 and
> arcluster.reversebeacon.net, port 7000
>
>
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Re: XG-3 - why RS-232

Eric Swartz - WA6HHQ, Elecraft
Administrator
In reply to this post by Joe Subich, W4TV-4
Let's end the pro/con RS-232 versus USB thread now before it takes on a life of its own ;-) As noted by others, there are many prior threads that you can search on for this discussion.

The short answer for the XG3 is that it only uses a simple command set that does not require any USB specific functions. There is no operational advantage for USB versus RS-232 on the XG3. We support both RS-232 and USB on all of our products for control via our RS232 and USB cables.  Many hams use legacy computers that only have RS232, so that is the lowest required denominator for comm support.

Also note, we -do- have cables for the XG3 (and KX3, W2 and W1) that connect directly from their comm port to USB. The part number is KXUSB. Its not on our order form yet, but will be next week. (It is included by default with the KX3.)

[Thread Closed]

73,
Eric
List Moderator, among other duties..
www.elecraft.com
_..._



On May 12, 2012, at 7:42 AM, "Joe Subich, W4TV" <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 5/12/2012 9:17 AM, Pete Smith N4ZR wrote:
>> I would have thought that a USB port would have advantages so far as
>> space and weight, maybe even power consumption, in a battery powered
>> miniature device.
>
> Not so ... many microprocessor controllers contain one or two built-in
> serial ports.  It is far cheaper to adapt those TTL (or 3.3V) ports to
> RS-232 "compatible" operation (typically a single line driver) than to
> install a USB UART and deal with drivers for a multitude of operating
> systems.
>
> The low power line drivers consume less power, need fewer parts (no
> crystal), can be smaller than the USB UART and are likely to be more
> reliable.
>
> If you *want* USB interface to the XG-3 pick up one of the USB "scanner
> programming cables" - typically USB to RS_232 compatible 3.5mm stereo
> plug.  I believe Elecraft have such a cable as the KXUSB (standard for
> the KX3) ... I don't know if they list it separately as a spare.
>
> 73,
>
>    ... Joe, W4TV
>
>
> On 5/12/2012 9:17 AM, Pete Smith N4ZR wrote:
>> Not exactly comparable to the XG-3, perhaps.  I would have thought that
>> a USB port would have advantages so far as space and weight, maybe even
>> power consumption, in a battery powered miniature device.  For those
>> using old computers, USB port cards for the PCI bus are absolutely dirt
>> cheap.
>>
>> 73, Pete N4ZR
>> The World Contest Station Database, updated daily at www.conteststations.com
>> The Reverse Beacon Network at http://reversebeacon.net, blog at reversebeacon.blogspot.com,
>> spots at telnet.reversebeacon.net, port 7000 and
>> arcluster.reversebeacon.net, port 7000
>>
>>
> ______________________________________________________________
> Elecraft mailing list
> Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/elecraft
> Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.htm
> Post: mailto:[hidden email]
>
> This list hosted by: http://www.qsl.net
> Please help support this email list: http://www.qsl.net/donate.html
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Re: XG-3 - why RS-232

wayne burdick
Administrator
In reply to this post by Joe Subich, W4TV-4
The RS232 circuitry we use on the KX3, XG3, K144XV, W1, and W2 has  
three main benefits:  (1) Current drain is near zero. (2) There's  
absolutely no RFI. And (3) you can use any of these devices with  
either a USB or RS232 port at the computer end by ordering the  
associated Elecraft adapter.

73,
Wayne
N6KR


> Not exactly comparable to the XG-3, perhaps.  I would have thought  
> that
> a USB port would have advantages so far as space and weight, maybe  
> even
> power consumption, in a battery powered miniature device.  For those
> using old computers, USB port cards for the PCI bus are absolutely  
> dirt
> cheap.
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