*NEW*National Instruments NI GPIB-USB-HS Interface Adapter IEEE 488 Controller (WHL #87F1)

Well hello again, welcome to the famous “the internet is full of fake GPIB adapters” show! Today we got… *drum roll*…a fake National Instruments GPIB-USB-HS! Like last week, but different!

In all seriousness, after the recent experience with the fake adapter from Amazon (and NI’s reaction, or the lack thereof), I decided to buy one myself. After all, my HP 6644A power supply does offer HPIB/GPIB so I could maybe control it remotely and log data (with a Raspberry Pi?), plus likely any outcome of delivered goods would be suitable for a blog post. It’s unlikely to lose any money on this, so I had a go. I bought the cheapest unit on eBay that had no obvious counterfeit signs like fake documentation with spelling errors, multiple units with the same serial number on one photo, or clever wording in the item description. This is to prevent the seller from pointing out these things in a dispute, because I also put in “Please make sure the shipped unit is a genuine NI part – I will check and ask for a full refund if it is not. If in doubt, simply cancel my order. Thank you.” into the little note-to-seller field at the end of the eBay checkout. Total amount was 95.19€ including tax and shipping (and tax on shipping…) and the box arrived in less than two weeks. The seller also offers a lot of SAS cards (prospective buyer!), so given I got a fake GPIB adapter doesn’t really make me want to buy SAS equipment directly from China, although pricing is of course compelling…

Anyway, here’s what showed up:

The adapter is shipped a new box! NI changed logo in June 2020, and the box says March 2021. That’s plausible, except for the fact that the print is of extremely poor quality, and I would highly doubt NI would ship a 1000€+ item in such a thing.

Package contents are very similar to the previous one. Which also means, and I noted this in the initial message on the eBay complaint, that it is again very unlikely that NI would ship a 1000€+ item in a 2021 box containing documentation printed in 2013. Companies spend millions on CI changes, and a high-profile player like NI they would absolutely not use old documents for eight more years in order to save some pennies – they’d throw out truckloads of those leaflets and order the same amount of dead tree decorated with their new logo. So a new box and ancient documentation is a big no-no, but thank you for the easy hint, dear forgers…

The paper also looks a bit dirty, like someone touched this with dusty fingers and/or stored in a dusty environment. Another thing I wouldn’t expect on such an expensive item.

This is the packaging of the adapter itself – exactly like advertised on eBay and exactly how the last one showed up as well. I’d like to add that serial numbers match here as well, so they managed to print all their labels in accordance with the serial that they’ve added to some device EEPROM.

Device front…

…and back. It’s not exactly the NI logo that one would expect for a March 2021 device, innit?

But I don’t really know if they’ve ever changed it on the blue devices, since there is an NI-branded GPIB-USB-HS in black, and the successor GPIB-USB-HS+ (smaller form factor) also exists in blue with National Instruments branding, and black in NI branding. It’s not entirely implausible that they’ve sold existing stock after their branding changed, but not in combination with subpar boxes and old leaflets, as mentioned.

So, how does it look on the inside? Well, different! Much more going on than in the previous device. There’s a big chungus that is NI branded on genuine devices, there’s an (well, allegedly) ISSI IS61LV256AL-10TLI 256kbit SRAM chip, an Cypress CY7C68013A-128AXC USB 2.0 controller, and three more 8-pin SO packages, on of them with TI logo and C7733J06TCHR6 marking that doesn’t really yield anything on Google.

Aside from that, no NI logos, trademark or copyright notes are present, and the blue case of course doesn’t have the copper EMI flashing that the genuine part has.

But on plugging it in, it does get recognized just fine, like the other unit:

usb 1-4: new high-speed USB device number 12 using xhci_hcd
usb 1-4: New USB device found, idVendor=3923, idProduct=709b, bcdDevice= 1.01
usb 1-4: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
usb 1-4: Product: GPIB-USB-HS
usb 1-4: Manufacturer: National Instruments
usb 1-4: SerialNumber: 01D9F6FB

(exactly the same except for the serial number)

The unit is once again NOT flagged as counterfeit by the current driver:

And it asks to register it with NI, so I did. It shows up as “cDAQ-9171”, which seems to be a chassis that can hold one single module for USB measurements – clearly not a serial number that matches a genuine GPIB device.

So… I opened the case with eBay and will see how that works out, and if the guy wants his fake shit back in order to try with the next customer. Current answer is this:

Hello. I’m very sorry, this was my mistake. I gave you a refund. thanks

Yeah, sure, I bet it was…

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