[time-nuts] Prologix GPIB/USB converter help...

Tom Van Baak tvb at LeapSecond.com
Tue Apr 17 13:25:35 EDT 2007

> I'll admit I'm kind of surprised at all of the users sticking up for RS-232.
> I would've thought Abdul would be safe in abandoning his internal RS-232
> data pathway between the Atmel and FTDI chip.  What are some examples of
> RS-232 hosts that need to talk to GPIB test equipment?  Old/retired laptops
> being used as dumb terminals?  Legacy DOS apps that don't have any form of
> USB support?  Both?
> -- john, KE5FX

RS232 allows the user to convert to many other interfaces.
There are serial-USB converters, ethernet-serial converters,
GPIB-serial converters, wireless-serial modems, fiber-serial
converters, serial data loggers, etc. You can be close or
hundreds of feet away. You can use a full PC or a tiny PIC.
So it gives you a lot of options when you have a device that
talks RS232.

If a device is USB-only you pretty much have to just plug it
into a wintel PC, install their OS-dependent software, and
take what you're given.

I'll give you a recent example. I have a bunch of AC power
meters in my lab (model: Watts Up PRO) that have RS232
output and I wrote software that logs and plots the data. A
while back I picked up cheap serial-ethernet converters and
now I get all the same data over my house LAN. If these
were USB devices I'd be stuck with their software, their logs,
their plots, and have to locate a Windows PC near each meter.

Ironically, like Prologix, the company that makes these AC
meters also just "went USB" so this flexibility is now lost.

Another example is GPS receivers. How would it be if they
only came with USB interfaces? Consumers wouldn't care,
they might even prefer it, but consider why it would drive us
engineers crazy.


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