1513Seen INSIDE a KPC3 Lately ??
- Oct 21, 2013
I've got around a dozen and a half KPC3 and KPC3plus TNC's around the place. I've been using the model for over 20 years. My newest one is the current V9.1 .
The KPC3 is pretty standard. Open one up, and you know what you'll find.
The KPC3plus is different of course. There's two different versions and the components are laid-out differently to the original KPC3 as well as a number of different chips being used. The case is a weak, bendy tin thing, unlike the excellent quality classic KPC3. But the RAM and Operating System Eproms are still the same, and the clock chip is all-in-one without the external crystal like the original KPC3. Otherwise it's all a regular KPC3 type machine but in a tinny poor-quality case. You know what you're looking-at as soon as you lift the lid.
But I got a huge surprise last month!
My pal in the next town bought a new KPC3plus V9.1 like mine from HRO. We opened it to install the clock chip and WOW, it was like nothing I've ever seen in 20 years! There's no recogniseable circuits or components inside at all !!
His V9.1 KPC3plus consists of small surface-mount chips and components similar to those that you find inside a KAM-XL. I didn't see a standard writetable eprom or memory chip that looks anything like those used on previous models, or indeed my own V9.1 . Everything is changed, and appears to be mostly soldered-down, rather than the big holders with heavy push-in IC's in them.
When did this happen? As far as I can see, this is the end of my two decade relationship with this excellent piece of equipment. My drawer-loads of chips and spares will no longer fit, and it appears to me that there's not much fun to be had inside the TNC repairing it, and upgrading it. The machine doesn't actually DO anything extra compared to my own V9.1, so I assume that Kantronics have been forced to redesign the unit because the 20 year-old components in it have become obsolete?
If that's the case, I congratulate them for bravely continuing production and investing in the future. But hey Kantronics, while you had the opportunity why didn't you update the design with a USB interface at the same time? The model is rapidly being forced into obsolescence by it's 'vintage' serial port connection. When is the USB model due out ?
73 Paul ZL4ax
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