Windows update bricks devices with counterfeit FTDI FT232 chips.

Just a quick FYI for all of of our readers in the Maker and EE worlds, if you have an off-brand Arduino, 3D Printer running anything other than an official controller board with an official Arduino, or any other USB-based microcontroller that may run an FTDI FT232 chip, the latest Windows update installs a new FTDI driver that essentially bricks any USB device that is running a counterfeit FTFI chip.

Basically the new driver reprograms the USB PID to 0 on the chip, which renders it "invisible" to any Windows, Linux, or OSX device. The Hack-A-Day Article I link to at the bottom shows how to correct this, but beware. 

Image courtsy hackaday.com

This is not an accident or bug, FTDI specifically wrote this driver to do this in order to cut down on counterfeit chips, but instead of going after the manufacturers of the off-hand chips, they are choosing to attack the consumer by bricking the devices they purchased unknowingly with counterfeit chips. Many times, the FTDI FT232 chip looks identical on the outside, and its only the silicon on the inside that is different, so there is no way for a consumer, or small-scale manufacturer to know if the chip they bought was real or fake, and this is why FTDI is in the wrong here.

Hell, even SparkFun Electronics wound up purchasing a ton of counterfeit and fake ATmega 328 chips a few years back, and they are professionals who could not tell the difference. Shame on you FTDI for targeting the consumer instead of the chip manufacturers.

The workaround for this driver update is to download the FT232 config tool from the FTDI website on a WinXP or Linux box, change the PID of the fake chip, and never using the new driver on a modern Windows system. There will surely be an automated tool to fix these chips automatically, but until then, take a good look at what Windows Update is installing – it’s very hard to tell if your devices have a fake FTDI chip by just looking at them. ~ Brian Benchoff of Hack-A-Day. 

Hack-A-Day was the first to break this story, and I encourage everyone to spread the word, and let everyone know how FTDI is chosing to punish the consumers for buying products they had no idea were built with counterfeit components. 


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