Breaking News
Comments
Oldest First | Newest First | Threaded View
tom-ii
User Rank
Blogger
Not dead, yet
tom-ii   12/25/2013 6:52:09 PM
NO RATINGS
Breakout boxes still appear here & there.   These days, though, they're pretty much no longer just passive, but have internal signal conditioning so the measurement devices don't load the line.  In fact, they often times redrive the lines.

David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
Ah, Breakout boxes
David Ashton   12/26/2013 2:26:03 PM
NO RATINGS
I own a couple of RS232 Breakout Boxes exactly like the one above, and have made myself a couple over the years as well (mostly dedicated to 9-pin).  I once used to look after terminal controllers with 8 RS232 interfaces, and built some special test gear for them, that story is here (and above, How to have fun with Klunky old terminals) if you have not read it before.

I still have a fair bit of serial-interfaced gear to test, and use breakout boxes from time to time.  Younger colleagues are often amazed when I hook one up to an obstinately dead bit of equipment and say "Well, your RTS line is dead!"

I must admit that USB is fairly reliable and has removed the need for fiddling around with wires to get the right cable configuration, but sometimes it is difficult to know what is wrong if it does not work.  

For buses like I2C and SPI you can use oscillloscopes to troubleshoot now, I guess that would be the nearest equivalent.  It's not so much signal integrity that has made these devices obsolete, it's the speed of the interfaces we use now, and the fact that their physical simplicity (small number of wires) means that most problems will be at the protocol or software level.

MeasurementBlues
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Ah, Breakout boxes
MeasurementBlues   12/26/2013 4:36:47 PM
NO RATINGS
@David, there have been times I could have used a USB breakout board to check the power wires when a mobile device didn't appear to be charging. I would have liked to check the charge current.

Bill_Jaffa
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Ah, Breakout boxes
Bill_Jaffa   12/26/2013 4:54:52 PM
NO RATINGS
I improvised a USB breakout box from several USB cables that I had and didn't need any more. I soldered the wires to a small piece of PC board, with bare wires going across a small gap (and they can be opened, if needed). It allows me to check basic DC levels and presence of signals--but nothing else. But, hey, many times it is these basics which are causing problems, so it's a quick-start to check and verify.

MeasurementBlues
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Ah, Breakout boxes
MeasurementBlues   12/26/2013 5:02:18 PM
NO RATINGS
@Bill,


What I really needed were the receptacles for the USB cables. I could really use a breakoput box for Apple 30-pin connectors and cables. I know there are some commercially available.

David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Ah, Breakout boxes
David Ashton   12/27/2013 3:05:00 AM
NO RATINGS
@MB - if you need USB sockets, just buy a USB extension cable, that's got a plug and a socket on it.   If you need a 30-pin apple socket, find someone with a dead I-phone.

AZskibum
User Rank
CEO
Re: Ah, Breakout boxes
AZskibum   12/28/2013 4:04:21 PM
NO RATINGS
Good point, they are still useful for checking DC levels and basic presence of signals. For real signal measurements though, the box full of wires & connectors is a relic of the past.

MeasurementBlues
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Ah, Breakout boxes
MeasurementBlues   1/4/2014 11:39:16 PM
NO RATINGS
You can also use a dead iPhone charger for a USB socket.





Flash Poll
EE Life
Frankenstein's Fix, Teardowns, Sideshows, Design Contests, Reader Content & More
Engineering Pop Culture!
Chuck Maggi, Engineering Manager

Two Cocky Techs Get Their Comeuppance
Chuck Maggi, Engineering Manager
Post a comment
Two swaggering technicians are dramatically humbled when they flip the power switch on a high-voltage simulator.

The Engineering Life - Around the Web
Dwight Bues, Systems Engineer

The Case of the Nonexistent Component
Dwight Bues, Systems Engineer
Post a comment
Every engineer has likely had the unfortunate experience of verifying a part's availability with a vendor, only to have the part ultimately wind up either not getting produced or ...

Engineer's Bookshelf
Caleb Kraft

The Martian: A Delightful Exploration of Math, Mars & Feces
Caleb Kraft
6 comments
To say that Andy Weir's The Martian is an exploration of math, Mars, and feces is a slight simplification. I doubt that the author would have any complaints, though.

Design Contests & Competitions
Caleb Kraft

Join The Balancing Act With April's Caption Contest
Caleb Kraft
58 comments
Sometimes it can feel like you're really performing in the big tent when presenting your hardware. This month's caption contest exemplifies this wonderfully.

Top Comments of the Week
Like Us on Facebook
EE Times on Twitter
EE Times Twitter Feed

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)