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THE AOPEN FM56-ITU/2 FAX/MODEM
Last updated: 4/12/02

AOpen just released a new version of FM56-ITU FAX/MODEM, my all-time favorite MODEM.  Like its predecessor, this new version, the FM56-ITU/2, is economical, works well, and is one I can control.  By control I mean this is an ISA MODEM with jumpers and a wide selection of IRQ and port address options. 

According to AOpen's web site, this version of the MODEM uses a two chip Rockwell chipset, the RP56D/SP and L2800-38, versus the single chip RCVDL56ACFW/SP used in the original, to increase "stable capacity" (whatever that is) and to reduce the error rate of mass production.  They further state that the specs are the same, but they use a different driver and firmware.  Frankly, if I hadn't read the note and looked carefully at the board, I wouldn't have noticed the difference.  The two MODEMs work equally well.

This MODEM has the appearance of high quality board.  I counted 14 105C electrolytic, two tear-drop tantalum, four ceramic, and two mylar capacitors.  And there are plenty surface-mount caps to boot.  Layout and silk-screening are quite good.

One does not have to have a PCI MODEM to have a fast MODEM.  The ISA bus runs at 12 Mhz.  It is far faster than any demand that a 56K MODEM can impose.  Also, an ISA MODEM can be used in a wider variety of computers.

I prefer the FM56-ITU/2's jumpers to Plug 'n Play WinMODEMs, especially when installing a MODEM in a computer with a motherboard with misbehaved COM ports (ports disabled in the CMOS Setup, but still detected by Windows 95/98), and machines in which there are so many expansion boards that Interrupts have to shared.  If you can't get one of these MODEMs working in one of those incorrigible Packard-Bells or with one of those ancient and fussy DOS programs, than I know of no other generic MODEM which will work.

The Windows 95/98 installation is quite forward and simple.  Install the MODEM in your computer; double-click Modems in the Control Panel; let Windows detect the Modem COM port; after it tests the COM ports detects the MODEM, stop it from installing a Standard MODEM, click Have Disk, and point it twice to the \WINDOWS\DRIVER DIRECTORY on the AOpen CD which came with the MODEM.

Features...

ltblball.gif (377 bytes)  Dual V.90/K56Flex standard.   This MODEM will work with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) running V.90, K56Flex, and X2.  Of course, it can only run at 33.6 KBS when talking to an X2 MODEM.  In my locations it runs 46 to 48K when connecting to V.90 or K56Flex MODEMs.  These are typical speeds for 56K MODEMs, which can connect at a max speed of 53K in the U.S.A. in very ideal conditions--the FCC limits the maximum speed of voice telephone lines to 53K.

ltblball.gif (377 bytes)  It has the Rockwell two chip Rockwell chipset, the RP56D/SP and L2800-38, and a 16550/A Compatible Enhanced UART.

ltblball.gif (377 bytes)  The MODEM is easily jumpered for COM1: through COM4: and IRQs 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 15.  All of the COM and IRQ jumpers are on a single header.  All of the combinations of COM ports and IRQs are silk-screened on the back of the board and are easily understood.  (I would be happier if the jumper header were located near the top of the board where it could be jumpered without removing the board from the computer.)

ltblball.gif (377 bytes) The speaker is no wimp.  It can be clearly heard outside of a closed computer case.

ltblball.gif (377 bytes)  There are connectors (and cables) to connect the MODEM to an Acer motherboard for wake-up on ring and to pipe the speaker sound to a sound card.  The sound cable plugs right into the AOpen FX-3D sound card.   I have made it work, with some finagling, with other sound boards as well.

ltblball.gif (377 bytes) With Windows 95/98 the MODEM shows the actual connect speed (some show 115,200 BPS regardless of the true speed).

ltblball.gif (377 bytes)  It works well with DOS applications.

ltblball.gif (377 bytes)  Telephone answering machine (TAM), voice mail, caller ID and distinctive ring detection functions are supported.

ltblball.gif (377 bytes)  It has two RJ-11 and two audio jacks (speaker and mike).

ltblball.gif (377 bytes)  Smith Micro Software's QuickLink MessageCenter III software is included.

ltblball.gif (377 bytes)  And, of course, you can use it as a 14.4 send/receive FAX.

Overall, a very good product and I prefer it, although it costs a little more than controller less WinMODEMs.

Larry

Jumpers

4/12/02  From our forums...

Yes I have that "manual" but it does not show how to apply the shunts for pnp mode; or even how to apply the shunts with examples in the first place.

JP16 is to the right in your picture and has no pins. That and the jumper settings on the back of the board (and the manual) are not uncommon. The MODEM does not have the PnP feature. As I recall, the ones I installed did not have it either. Anyway, I would not set it to PnP even if the MODEM could do it. I would disable COM2 and assign IRQ 3 to Legacy/ISA in the motherboard CMOS Setup and plug the mouse into COM1: (please let me know if that is a problem and why it is).

The jumper setting for COM2:, IRQ 3 are: JP1 ON, JP3 ON and all other jumpers on the COM/IRQ header OFF, JP16 OFF (which it is if there are no pins and no trace connecting the spots where they would be on the board), and put the jumper on pins 1 and 2 on JP17.

Larry

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