Go Back   IceInSpace > Equipment > Astrophotography and Imaging Equipment and Discussions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread
  #1  
Old 23-10-2014, 08:00 PM
Garbz (Chris)
Registered User

Garbz is offline
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 639
Exclamation IMPORTANT: Notice to all Windows users with Astronomy gear

UPDATE: FTDI has bowed against the backlash and this is no longer an issue, see post #11 for details.


I'm not sure how many of you have heard this, or even have understood this, but there's some dodgyness going about the electronics world currently by FTDI.

FTDI is probably the most popular manufacturer of USB > Serial converters on the market. If you have any device out there which identifies to the computer as a serial port (i.e. most ASCOM compatible devices) then there's a very good chance it has an FTDI chip in it. Shoestring cables typically have FTDI based serial converters in them, anyone who's messing with Arduinos will come across them, and there's a good chance that many other devices do too, because coding for a serial port is easier than coding for USB, and it means you don't need to licence a vendor ID.


Anyway to the crux of the issue:
FTDI is one of the most counterfeited brands in the electronics world.
A few days ago FTDI published via Windows Update a new driver. In the past there have been driver updates which prevent the counterfeit devices from working properly, randomly dropping out etc.

The new driver intentionally bricks the counterfeit chips.

The problem is there's really very little way to tell if a chip is counterfeit or not without looking at it under a microscope. There are legitimate vendors who are happily using counterfeit chips, there are those who are unknowingly using counterfeit chips, and there are users who don't realise that buying a $10 shoestring cable is too good to be true when the FTDI chips cost $20 ea in sets of 100.

The driver detects counterfeit devices and sets the USB PID (Product ID) to 0. Windows doesn't like this and the device will drop out, and won't work again on any computer you try.

One solution appears to be to manually force the installation of an earlier driver. So far the forum with the solution is in Russian, but if anyone comes across the problem post in here and I'll talk you through the solution.

Right now the driver affected is version 2.12. It is being rolled out via Windows Update. However http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm FTDI still publishes older versions including version 2.08 which is recommended to fix the problem.

So yes post in here if anyone has problems with COM ports suddenly no longer working this month.

Last edited by Garbz; 25-10-2014 at 09:48 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 23-10-2014, 08:19 PM
RobF's Avatar
RobF (Rob)
Mostly harmless...

RobF is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 5,513
Thanks for the warning Chris. Is it possible to head this off by turning off fully automatic updates I wonder?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 23-10-2014, 08:45 PM
Regulus's Avatar
Regulus (Trevor)
Regulus - Couer de Leon

Regulus is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Devonport, Tasmania
Posts: 2,328
Thanks for this.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 24-10-2014, 09:13 AM
Garbz (Chris)
Registered User

Garbz is offline
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 639
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobF View Post
Thanks for the warning Chris. Is it possible to head this off by turning off fully automatic updates I wonder?
Turning off automatic updates completely will do it. I have yet to find out which update pushes out the new driver. The guys on the Arduino forums are attempting to find out now and blacklist the update.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 24-10-2014, 09:23 AM
koputai's Avatar
koputai (Jason)
Registered User

koputai is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 1,633
Just playing Devil's advocate here.

Why is using counterfeit chips, or assisting in their use, any
different to any other form of copyright infringement such as
pirating software or torrenting movies?

Food for thought?

Cheers,
Jason.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 24-10-2014, 09:47 AM
OzStarGazer's Avatar
OzStarGazer
Nerd from Outer Space

OzStarGazer is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Next to my scope
Posts: 1,088
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garbz View Post
FTDI still publishes older versions including version 2.08 which is recommended to fix the problem.
Thanks, I have just downloaded it...
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 24-10-2014, 09:50 AM
RickS's Avatar
RickS (Rick)
PI cult recruiter

RickS is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 10,584
Quote:
Originally Posted by koputai View Post
Just playing Devil's advocate here.

Why is using counterfeit chips, or assisting in their use, any
different to any other form of copyright infringement such as
pirating software or torrenting movies?

Food for thought?

Cheers,
Jason.
It's fair enough to brick the hardware of someone who knowingly chose to buy and use counterfeit components. It's a bit rough to do it if they were purchased unknowingly and in good faith, especially with no advance warning.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 24-10-2014, 02:05 PM
Garbz (Chris)
Registered User

Garbz is offline
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 639
Quick update:

Installing an older driver is a temporary work around. The device remains effectively bricked and won't work in any computer or operating system which doesn't allow you to force a driver to use a certain device. The guys on Arudino forums are looking into ways to reverse the "damage" and reset the PID to 6001 which it should be.


Quote:
Originally Posted by koputai View Post
Why is using counterfeit chips, or assisting in their use, any
different to any other form of copyright infringement such as
pirating software or torrenting movies?
It's not copyright infringement. There are no laws against producing function like equipment i.e. an aftermarket oil filter for a Ford. The FTDI products don't do anything unique or ground breaking, in fact Serial CDC is part of the USB spec.

To compare it to a very legal example: Intel vs AMD. AMD implemented the x86 instruction set which was an open instruction set. The instruction set is not intellectual property, quite the opposite it needs to be published for a CPU to work. On the other hand the exact method in which the processor handles an instruction is intellectual property, and hence AMD lagged behind Intel with release of things like MMX and SSE, and why Intel lagged behind AMD to introduce x64 support.


Now, what this IS is Trademark Infringement.

It wouldn't be trademark infringement if the chips weren't marked with the FTDI logo, and and FTDI part number. What else it is is breach of the USB specs as you're not allowed to steal a Vendor ID (i.e. the device is not allowed to tell the computer that FTDI made it).

The reality is it's the suppliers who are legally liable, not the end users, just like in Australia you can't be held liable for downloading a movie or owning a pirated movie despite what the industry wants you to believe.

Unfortunately in this case FTDI aren't going after suppliers but rather the end users which officially marks the last time I buy one of their products. Time to buy Prolific chips instead.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 24-10-2014, 02:36 PM
koputai's Avatar
koputai (Jason)
Registered User

koputai is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 1,633
Interesting, thanks.

Cheers,
Jason.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 24-10-2014, 08:43 PM
RobF's Avatar
RobF (Rob)
Mostly harmless...

RobF is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 5,513
From my dodgey memory the EQDirect/shoestring devices USB/TTL devices are FTDI, while Hitec astro use prolific. I'm usually pretty pendantic about not letting Windows auto-update without browsing through what's it doing, but must check the setting on my astro lappy.

Thanks again Chris.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 25-10-2014, 09:50 AM
Garbz (Chris)
Registered User

Garbz is offline
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 639
Update from FTDI

Well it appears as though FTDI has listened to the feedback they've been getting (though some people think they may have had an awkward conversation with Microsoft's WHQL team about damaging hardware). Apparently the driver has been removed from windows update. http://www.ftdichipblog.com/?p=1053 At present the driver is still available on the website though in the announcement they said they will issue a new driver shortly.

It appears as though the crisis may have been averted.

/EDIT: Spoke too soon.

While the latest driver won't soft-brick devices it will not work with them. Fortunately the solution is easy:

Either go on FTDI's website and download and install the 2.08 driver. Or in Device Manager use the Roll Back Driver button in the driver properties to roll back to version 2.10.0.0

Last edited by Garbz; 25-10-2014 at 02:42 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 25-10-2014, 01:36 PM
hobbit
Registered User

hobbit is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: sutherland shire
Posts: 372
There's an old saying. "Two wrongs don't make a right" Wonder how long before the legal threats start showing up.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +10. The time is now 06:27 AM.

Powered by vBulletin Version 3.8.7 | Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Advertisement
Lunatico Astronomical
Advertisement
Meade Australia
Advertisement
Bintel
Advertisement
NexDome Observatories
Advertisement
Celestron Australia
Advertisement
OzScopes Authorised Dealer
Advertisement
SkyWatcher Australia
Advertisement
Astronomy and Electronics Centre
Advertisement