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Author Topic: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??  (Read 353586 times)

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Online nctnico

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FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« on: October 22, 2014, 10:59:23 AM »
I bought some RS485 boards from Ebay with an FTDI FT232 chip on them. Appearantly the chips are fake. I used them with Linux and they work fine. After plugging them into a Windows PC with the latest drivers they quit working (even with Linux). I think the FTDI driver somehow kills the fake FTDI chip. Not nice if you got a lot of these boards in the field  :palm:
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline BradC

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2014, 01:13:35 PM »
Are they dead altogether (fail to enumerate on the USB bus) or have they just stopped working with the FTDI driver? I wonder if there is an eeprom or similar in there that the windows driver messes with?
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2014, 02:17:05 PM »
The driver reprograms the product ID so it won't work.

Price of buying fake chips.
 

Offline ve7xen

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2014, 02:34:36 PM »
The driver reprograms the product ID so it won't work.

Price of buying fake chips.
If that is the case you can easily bind the new VID/PID to the correct driver in Linux and it should still work:

Code: [Select]
A vid/pid pair can be added dynamically using sysfs, for example:

echo 0403 1234 >/sys/bus/usb-serial/drivers/ftdi_sio/new_id

Again, if that is the only "damage" done, lsusb should help you find the device, or just monitoring dmesg as you attach it.
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Offline edavid

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2014, 02:46:25 PM »
The new Windows driver reprograms the PID to 0.

More info here:

http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=270175.0
« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 03:03:26 PM by edavid »
 

Offline ve7xen

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2014, 02:58:22 PM »
Funny, the clone devices used to use counterfeit Prolific chips, and Prolific did something very similar, though not quite as nasty. The driver would just BSOD the machine constantly when used with a counterfeit chip.

I'm not sure this strategy is actually to their advantage, or frankly, even legal.

Anyway the workaround will likely still work in Linux.
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Offline Alexei.Polkhanov

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2014, 03:07:22 PM »
FT232 allow you to change IDs to anything you want using config tool from FTDI website. If you change IDs default FTDI driver will stop recognizing the chip - I think they warn you about it in their documentation.

What does FTDIconfig say in windows? screenshot?
« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 03:09:45 PM by Alexei.Polkhanov »
 

Offline edavid

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2014, 03:19:44 PM »
FT232 allow you to change IDs to anything you want using config tool from FTDI website. If you change IDs default FTDI driver will stop recognizing the chip - I think they warn you about it in their documentation.
Read the discussion - it's not so simple.

The new Windows driver changes the PID to 0, and then the driver won't recognize the device (even if you edit the INF file), and you can't use the config tool.
The workaround is to use a Windows XP or Linux system to change the PID back, and then don't use the new driver.
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2014, 08:18:02 PM »
Thats awfull Nico did you have many of these fake boards?
I would take my loss remove the fake ics and replace with real ones from trustworthy dealer, they cost around €4.- , it could be worse.
I'm not sure this strategy is actually to their advantage, or frankly, even legal.
So who is going to sue them, not the manfacturer of the illegal copied devices who is the real villain in this story  ;)
If only there was a good way to tell which is fake and which not, in front. Till then no ebay buys.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 08:23:23 PM by Kjelt »
 

Offline Psi

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2014, 08:27:54 PM »
Funny, the clone devices used to use counterfeit Prolific chips, and Prolific did something very similar, though not quite as nasty. The driver would just BSOD the machine constantly when used with a counterfeit chip.

Seriously?
lol, i was wondering why i kept getting a BSOD randomly when using this prolific usb-uart adapter that came with some china RC model gear.
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Offline ve7xen

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2014, 08:48:25 PM »
Funny, the clone devices used to use counterfeit Prolific chips, and Prolific did something very similar, though not quite as nasty. The driver would just BSOD the machine constantly when used with a counterfeit chip.

Seriously?
lol, i was wondering why i kept getting a BSOD randomly when using this prolific usb-uart adapter that came with some china RC model gear.
Yep, apparently if you get an old enough driver it should work fine for you. It might be "legitimate" breakage due to missing features or something in the counterfeits, but it appears it was common after a certain driver version. Or just use Linux and they all work fine...

Edit: Some discussion here: http://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/note-how-to-not-get-scammed-with-prolific-%28pl2303%29-usb-serial-adapters/ including identifying working version numbers.

Has anyone tried the Microchip USB to RS232 converter ICs? They are cheap and the one I tested seems to be quite good. Basically just a PIC with the right firmware programmed at the factory.
I have some in the parts bin but haven't actually tried them yet. They're implemented using the USB CDC though so should be no drivers required on most OSs and no opportunity or need to do stuff like this ;). Not sure why this isn't more widely used, but it does seem like the right way to do things to me.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 08:57:40 PM by ve7xen »
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Online nctnico

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2014, 09:00:30 PM »
Thats awfull Nico did you have many of these fake boards?
From Ebay. http://www.ebay.nl/itm/201116513817?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649  I'll provide some negative feedback.  >:D
Quote
I would take my loss remove the fake ics and replace with real ones from trustworthy dealer, they cost around €4.- , it could be worse.
I have about 12 but I also have a bunch of real FT232s lying around for another product so I just replaced the chips. Reworking the boards is easy. Looking closer at the dmesg output from Linux it seems the Windows driver has reprogrammed the Pid indeed.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2014, 09:10:09 PM by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2014, 11:26:40 PM »
Has anyone tried the Microchip USB to RS232 converter ICs? They are cheap and the one I tested seems to be quite good. Basically just a PIC with the right firmware programmed at the factory.
For this purpose it would be ok i guess, might try it in the near future.
For a lot of other applications such as any I2C bridge or I/O peripheral I personally do not trust a standard PIC with software. I rather have a hardware statemachine solution for that. But thats just my 2 cents.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2014, 11:51:22 PM »
Actively damaging a "fake" device is overkill, and possibly illegal - just refusing to work and showing a message would be more than enough.
 
IANAL but I'm not sure this statement on their website (linked from, not actually on the driver download page) would be enough to avoid legal liability
Quote
The licence only allows use of the Software with, and the Software will only work with Genuine FTDI Components (as defined in the Licence Terms). Use of the Software as a driver for a component that is not a Genuine FTDI Component MAY IRRETRIEVABLY DAMAGE THAT COMPONENT.

An obvious issue is that a user may well not know than a device containing a component is non-genuine, and damaging it without warning would seem to be way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable.
 
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Offline linux-works

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2014, 12:13:09 AM »
interesting.  a week ago, I bought some ftdi dongles from ebay and most were ok but one of them had a PID of all 0's (as seen on linux).  I reported it to ebay, the vendor contacted me and sent me 2 new ones which were ok.

I did report the first one as fake and that's what got the vendor (sunfounder) to step in.

now, was the chip tried on windows and then returned?  maybe that's what happened.  or they tried it on windows at the factory and it zero'd out the pid before they shipped it.

I did try patching the linux driver to accept 0 as the pid but was not successful (the module wouldn't load, so maybe I had the wrong kernel version and was not about to spend a lot of time tracking down the exact kernel tree for my running system).
 

Online nctnico

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2014, 12:37:41 AM »
Quote
The licence only allows use of the Software with, and the Software will only work with Genuine FTDI Components (as defined in the Licence Terms). Use of the Software as a driver for a component that is not a Genuine FTDI Component MAY IRRETRIEVABLY DAMAGE THAT COMPONENT.
An obvious issue is that a user may well not know than a device containing a component is non-genuine, and damaging it without warning would seem to be way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable.
I think I'll re-design my boards that use the FTDI FT232. What if the driver makes a mistake and renders a genuine FT232 useless? I don't want to take that chance. Like you said it would be much better if the driver just refuses to load or shows a warning. It would take unplugging/inserting to fix such a temporary hickup on a genuine device.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2014, 12:39:35 AM by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online nctnico

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2014, 01:29:53 AM »
 I acknowledge that people and companies have the right to defend their copyrights. I can't however condone destroying counterfeit products which where purchased in good faith. The proper way is taking legal action against entities selling counterfeit chips.
The problem is that you can't know if a product contains counterfeit chips or not. After all you buy a black box. Secondly I really don't want to use software which has a self destruct mechanism. I'll take the FT232 out of all my designs because I don't want to be in the middle of an argument between a chip maker and counterfeiters.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline jeremy

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2014, 01:43:52 AM »
I acknowledge that people and companies have the right to defend their copyrights. I can't however condone destroying counterfeit products which where purchased in good faith. The proper way is taking legal action against entities selling counterfeit chips.
The problem is that you can't know if a product contains counterfeit chips or not. After all you buy a black box. Secondly I really don't want to use software which has a self destruct mechanism. I'll take the FT232 out of all my designs because I don't want to be in the middle of an argument between a chip maker and counterfeiters.

Fwiw, as a long time ftdi user (in my designs, and in purchased devices), I completely agree. Error message, fine. Driver doesn't load, fine. But brick the device? Not ok. It's a shame, because I really like the chips. Oh well, have to vote with your wallet I suppose. :-//

Luckily I have recently discovered the cypress fx2/3, what a brilliant idea. Cypress here I come!
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2014, 01:48:34 AM »
I've never encountered one but are the chips actually counterfeit or just driver-compatible?

If the latter, then seems to me  FTDI are on very dangerous ground.   

Are these drivers going to be included in distributions of Windows etc. as previous ones have been ?
A user could upgrade Windows , not see any warnings about this, and find their hardware has been broken.

It is not a crime to own a counterfeit item. However I'd be surprised if there aren't any jurisdictions where destroying counterfeit items was illegal.

As FTDI provide no way for the user to tell if a device is genuine or not, the warning in the license agreement (even supposing anyone reads it) is probably not a good defence.
 
Maybe I own a device with a fake FTDI device inside and installed drivers back when the license conditions didn't include this warning.
I then buy a new, genuine device that needs the newer driver - will installing the newer driver kill the old device as well? 



   
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Online AndyC_772

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2014, 01:50:45 AM »
I completely agree. If I buy a USB-to-serial cable in good faith, it's because I have a need for that functionality, not because I have any interest in what's inside the box or what IP disputes there might be between IC manufacturers over its contents.

The FTDI driver doesn't need to be compatible with chips which it identifies as possible counterfeits, but actively disabling access to them is a malicious act, and not acceptable.

This reminds me of the software that Sony shipped on music CDs some years ago, which tried to disable features on a user's CD drive in an attempt to prevent copying. That particular idiotic decision backfired, spectacularly, and quite rightly so.
 

Offline amyk

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2014, 01:55:24 AM »
Quote
Luckily I have recently discovered the cypress fx2/3, what a brilliant idea. Cypress here I come!
The FX2/LP is not really cheaper than an FT232 and has far more functionality, but Cypress do make the cheaper CY7C65213 which is pin-compatible and doesn't require proprietary drivers.

An obvious issue is that a user may well not know than a device containing a component is non-genuine, and damaging it without warning would seem to be way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable.
Definitely agreed. All these extra checks are doing is providing incentive for the cloners to make their product even closer to the real one, or just provide patched drivers that bypass this "bomb" (if they're already making fakes, do you think they care at all about what your license agreement says?) Or someone else will... that is, if they haven't already.

It's not like a USB-UART bridge is super-secret new technology anyway - there's plenty of other companies making them so vote with your wallet: http://www.microchip.com/forums/m376186.aspx

Much better if we move to ICs that work with the standard CDC drivers - and there are plenty of them.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2014, 01:59:19 AM by amyk »
 

Offline edavid

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2014, 01:56:23 AM »
I've never encountered one but are the chips actually counterfeit or just driver-compatible?
Counterfeit: http://zeptobars.ru/en/read/FTDI-FT232RL-real-vs-fake-supereal

Quote
Are these drivers going to be included in distributions of Windows etc. as previous ones have been ?
Yes, they pushed the killer driver out in Windows Update, which is why the issue has come up now.

Quote
I then buy a new, genuine device that needs the newer driver - will installing the newer driver kill the old device as well? 
I don't think there are any new features in the driver, so no one actually needs it.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2014, 01:59:42 AM »
We recommend to all our customers to guarantee genuine FTDI products please purchase either from FTDI directly or from one of our authorised distributors. Please follow this link to locate your local distributor:  http://www.ftdichip.com/FTSalesNetwork.htm

That's all very fine for people buying chips but in most cases people are buying devices with chips inside. How do they know?
Why don't FTDI post info on devices known to contain fake chips?

 
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Offline linux-works

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2014, 02:01:59 AM »
We recommend to all our customers to guarantee genuine FTDI products please purchase either from FTDI directly or from one of our authorised distributors. Please follow this link to locate your local distributor:  http://www.ftdichip.com/FTSalesNetwork.htm

For more information please refer to FTDI`s counterfeit statement and driver license agreement.
 
http://www.ftdichip.com/Support/Documents/QualityDocuments/Counterfeit statement.pdf
 
http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/FTDriverLicenceTerms.htm
 
When the FTDI driver is installed you are agreeing the terms of use of FTDI`s device. Please note that FTDI`s driver licence agreement will be broken if used with counterfeit devices.
 :)

you guys could have a meltdown (public relations wise) if you don't control this new 'driver' of yours, and very quickly, too!

I used to be a big fan of ftdi.  but given your current hostility towards innocent end-users, I may have to rethink my choice of uart chips.

I also now know NEVER to accept windows updates or YOUR updates and use only the previous version of the driver, for when I have no choice but to use your chips.

if you want to go after people, go after SELLERS.  punishing USERS is borderline illegal.  if you brick a chip in a product that people depend on, I think you'll find some lawyers hungry to fight you in a class-action suit.

do you REALLY want that hassle, mr. ftdi?

you better rethink this before its too late.  we understand your position, but you have taken a hostile action toward end users and this will Not End Well(tm), mark my words.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232??
« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2014, 02:02:57 AM »

Quote
Are these drivers going to be included in distributions of Windows etc. as previous ones have been ?
Yes, they pushed the killer driver out in Windows Update, which is why the issue has come up now.
And how were users warned that it might kill their stuff?
If it was buried in a ton of other legalese crap I'd imagine there would be good grounds for legal action

Quote
Quote
I then buy a new, genuine device that needs the newer driver - will installing the newer driver kill the old device as well? 
I don't think there are any new features in the driver, so no one actually needs it.
Unless the new device contains, say, a newer chip like the FT232H and my old driver pre-dated this chip.
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