Knit and Sew

DesignaKnit & laptops

  Today we see more and more users of DesignaKnit who want to use a laptop. The advantages of a laptop are clear: you can take a laptop anywhere you like and you can run DesignaKnit anywhere you want to. You can position a laptop easily next to the knitting machine contrary to a desktop which is way to heavy to move. There is also a downside to laptops. Below you find a bad experience with a laptop.

The complaint of the user was: "Transferring patterns to my knitting machine gives all kinds of errors. These errors are hard to reproduce because each time something else goes wrong. DesignaKnit and the cable work perfect on my desktop. Interactive knitting works as a charm." This is a case where all individual components work to specification, but... all put together doesn't work. There are two reasons why this can happen:

1. All parts in a laptop are designed for minimal power consumption, so the battery can last as long as possible before a recharge is needed. This is also the case for the parts used for the COM port. Some adapter cables use power from one of the pins of the COM port. It is quite possible that the laptop cannot provide the required power while the average desktop can.

2. Also the voltage on the pins of the COM port of a laptop is sometimes lower than the voltage delivered by a desktop PC. If the interface requires a minimal voltage, it can happen that the laptop doesn't provide it, where the desktop PC does. This was the case for the complaint above.

What is the answer to this situation?
For Silver Reed users the Silverlink 4 is available. The Silverlink 4 has a USB port on top of the serial port. The USB connection avoids the problem. Users of other knitting machines however are still in the dark. DesignaKnit specifies that your computer should have a com port. Simple one would say: buy a USB to serial converter. Unfortunately it is not that simple. We have tested various serial to USB converters. The results were very disappointing: none of the standard USB to serial converters was able to work with DesignaKnit.

During Kreadoe 2002 we decided to develop a USB to serial converter specially for DesignaKnit: DAKUSB. With DAKUSB you can hook up an existing DesignaKnit cable to a USB port on your computer. DAKUSB also fixes the problem mentioned above as the use of the serial port, that was too weak for DesignaKnit, is no longer required.

Update: USB 2.0 version of DAKUSB available (DAKUSB2).

DesignaKnit has its own ideas about communication like: a cable without green spot that works for DK6 & DK7 on Windows ME, works for DK6 on Windows 2000, but not for DK7 on Windows 2000 (same, dual boot, PC). Or, some PC's only work when DPA is turned on. DAKUSB only converts USB into serial, DAKUSB doesn't resolve other cable problems. For your convenience, a test program is available to test magnetic switch cables.

Update: DesignaKnit USB cables available for most knitting machines

We have developed a new set of cables to interface between DesignaKnit and knitting machines. These cables no longer have a serial interface, but are native USB. There are a couple of advantages: no serial to USB converter required anymore (makes DAKUSB above obsolete); single cable instead of a combination of interfaces (25 to 9 pin, converter, DesignaKnit cable) which results in less chance on failures as result of joining. The USB variants of the DesignaKnit cables provide the same functionality as the serial DesignaKnit cables except that the interface at the PC end is USB. On top of that, there are two LEDs, that show activity between the PC and knitting machine, The LEDs provide you visual diagnostics. DesignaKnit USB cables are delivered with a test program, that enables you to work out the com port and to verify the cable works correctly.

Created: Nov 22, 2002 Last Modification: Aug 6, 2010 (c) Copyright 2000-2010, Jos Timmermans