USB<>COM Port adapters?

User avatar
VK4GHZ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 1865
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:39 pm
Contact:

USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK4GHZ » Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:16 pm

Hi all

Just wondering what adapters are being used successfully to convert a USB port to a familiar 9-pin COM port.

I could Google this, but I would prefer to hear from locals and their experiences, rather than from o/s reports, talking about hardware that may not even be available here.

I have read reports that not all USB<>COM adapters are created equal, and that some have problems with many ham type interfaces.

Question: What does work 100%, and is readily available in Australia?

Please share the brand, model, and where you purchased it from.
Ideally, it should have been purchased in the last 18 months or so, so there is a hope that particular model is still available.

Cheers,
Adam, VK4CP
Adam, Brisbane
http://vk4ghz.com | VK4GHZ on Youtube

10 things that happen when you stop checking Facebook constantly: http://tiny.cc/t5h7cz

VK6FKJN

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK6FKJN » Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:15 pm

Hi,

I have used the folowing adapter with Yaesu radios and HRD and had no problems;

http://www.altronics.com.au/index.asp?a ... m&id=D2340

Also used the following at work with no issues;

http://www.moxa.com/product/nport_u1110.htm

Au online store http://www.moxa.com.au

I dont think you can always be 100% sure, if you dont mind spending a bit more go for somthing like the Moxa adapter it has all the tech data avalible which should give you more confidence.

Best Regards,

Kyle...

VK7JG
Frequent Poster
Posts: 150
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:46 pm
Location: Launceston

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK7JG » Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:26 pm

Hello Adam .
I have purchased two from WES Spares in the past two years , both different brands they change supply depending on what is available . They cost around $30.00 and both worked just fine , when used with my laptop running Vista for programming commercial radios (Icom, Tait etc) and also no problems with my WSJT interface .
I did buy one from Hardly Normal (Belcom I think) that did not work in my applications so I took it back and got a refund.

Regards

Joe

User avatar
VK6ADF
Forum Diehard
Posts: 440
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 9:35 pm

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK6ADF » Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:32 pm

Hi Adam...I have an adapter that sofar has worked flawlessly for me. It was part of some Yaesu programing software I bought from http://www.rtsystemsinc.com/ but is sold by them separately for US$23 plus postage. If you go to the URL click CABLES and scroll down to the end.
Picture of it. http://www.rtsystemsinc.com/Photos/RTS03.jpg

Ok I know you said whats available in Australia but seeing there were no other postings when I started typing this I thought I would mention it.

I have also bought adapters for family members and for me to use out and about in my laptop, from eBay because they are cheap....as in CHEAP but they have worked. I have a habit of misplacing things like USB serial adapters so cheap is good. The one from the USA stays in my PC usually connected to my PCR1000

The ones from eBay,in my way of thinking...if it does not work or I end up loosing it, I have not lost much (usually around $10 including postage). The eBay adapters are so cheap they don't usually have a name but a search will find loads.

73 Phil...VK6ADF

VK2VEL
Frequent Poster
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 6:47 pm
Location: Sydney QF56mb

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK2VEL » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:33 pm

I bought an adapter from ebay for the Vista laptop. Vista drivers installed ok and the adapter is recognised when I plug it in, but it won't do anything when a device is plugged to it, eg serial cable to HRD or a serial mouse.

I just can't work it out, and I'm now close to going the way of the adapter sold at ZLP Electronics by G4ZLP. Expensive though....

Vista :shock:
73 DE ED
VK2VEL

VK4APN
Frequent Poster
Posts: 166
Joined: Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:20 pm
Location: Cairns

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK4APN » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:41 pm

http://www.hamgadgets.com/product_info. ... ucts_id=85

For those that may want a direct USB - CAT/programming interface follow the link above. The SMD device can be bought presoldered if it looks too hard! ( It was right at my eyesight limit to solder this device, rest is easy) The interface works well on my Icom and Yaesu radios - with a small change to the leads.

FWIW
Paul vk4apn

User avatar
VK7XX
Frequent Poster
Posts: 178
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 10:31 am
Location: planet Earth on Tasmania Island
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK7XX » Thu Jan 08, 2009 6:29 am

VK4CP wrote:Hi all

Just wondering what adapters are being used successfully to convert a USB port to a familiar 9-pin COM port.

As a (now retired) computer tech it has been in my interest to test a large number of different brands of these adaptor/converters. I found many that, for whatever reason, many work with some equipment but not with other. I have found only 1 that so far, works with everything I have tried it on and that one is the ATEN model UC-232a which I use and recommend.

VK2OMD
Forum Diehard
Posts: 1063
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:34 am
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK2OMD » Thu Jan 08, 2009 7:32 am

Adam,

In my experience, the devices based on the FTDI chip have been bullet proof.

FTDI makes a stand alone USB/RS232 adapter, try Dontronics. They aren't cheap... but good. The FTDI chips are commonly used to give legacy RS232 designs a USB interface.

I have also had good experience with Prolific chip based devices, but found their developer support is wanting. Prolific based adapters are real cheap on Ebay.

I am playing at the moment with a real cheap USB programming cable to see if it is the makings of a cheap CAT interface, these things cost less than $20 on Ebay.

All that said... the problem with these things is that every one that you introduce to a computer claims a COM port, and sometimes a different COM port on every different USB interface, so you rapidly consume COM ports... which is a problem of legacy software that only allows selection of COM1 - COM4. For that reason, I avoid integrated USB on some things, preferring to share just a couple of USB/RS232 adapters configured for COM1 and COM2.

BTW, if your or others are trying to run legacy software to program radios, some of it won't run in recent Microsoft Windows dos box, but will run in DOSbox and access a FTDI based USB/RS232 adapter. I haven't tried other adapters with DOSbox.

Owen

VK4TU
Forum Novice
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:33 pm

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK4TU » Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:39 am

I found a source of PCBs and USB serial cables here;
http://www.ftdichip.com/Products/Evalua ... Serial.htm
I've not used them but they look suitable to embed inside a rig to make it USB enabled. Of course screening would be a good idea first.

User avatar
VK4GHZ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 1865
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:39 pm
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK4GHZ » Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:18 pm

VK2DAG wrote:Not enough com ports?
Umm, no!
My Asus notebook, like many these days, does not have any COM ports (nada, nil, zip)... and I want to be able to use the notebook for Field Day use with interfaces, etc.

Thanks for all the comments, and I'll check out all the links posted.
:D
Adam, Brisbane
http://vk4ghz.com | VK4GHZ on Youtube

10 things that happen when you stop checking Facebook constantly: http://tiny.cc/t5h7cz

VK2VEL
Frequent Poster
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 6:47 pm
Location: Sydney QF56mb

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK2VEL » Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:27 pm

I bought one of these really cheap on ebay :cry: , which introduces some god awful interference into the radio whenever the connection is made to the PC.
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/USB-CI-V-CAT-INT ... 0121697100

It seems that the only thing that works at present is the 9 pin serial into the 10 year old P3 1ghz CPU with 500MB RAM laptop. So much for the shiny ASUS...
73 DE ED
VK2VEL

User avatar
VK3HZ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 464
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 4:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK3HZ » Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:43 pm

You're probably suffering information overload, Adam, but here's my version anyway. :)

I've tried three different el-cheapo no-brand units (recent), and all worked for rig control (i.e. the CTS/DTR lines worked correctly). However, one of them generated an extreme amount of noise on 2m, so it went "elsewhere".
VK1OD wrote:... the problem with these things is that every one that you introduce to a computer claims a COM port, and sometimes a different COM port on every different USB interface, so you rapidly consume COM ports... which is a problem of legacy software that only allows selection of COM1 - COM4. For that reason, I avoid integrated USB on some things, preferring to share just a couple of USB/RS232 adapters configured for COM1 and COM2.
The problem is that the USB/Serial adaptors do not have the equivalent of a MAC address - each one looks identical to the PC. When you first plug an adaptor into a particular USB port, WindoZe assigns a COM port number to it. Then, each time it's plugged in to that USB port again, it gets that same COM port. However, if you plug that adaptor into a different USB port, the PC has no way of knowing if it's a new or existing device, and takes the safe way out and assigns a new COM port to it. So, if you're just randomly plugging various adaptors, you might end up as I did at COM14 ...

How to get back to COM1/2 etc? It took me a while to figure this out, so it might be of help to others.

First you need to delete the phantom COM port entries. This is done in Device Manager (I'm talking Win XP here - if you've got Vista, then that's your problem :wink: ). However, to see these entries, you need to follow this advice: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315539 Once you've done this, you'll see them all under the Ports (COM & LPT) entry. Right-click and Uninstall each one you don't want.

Now plug the adaptor in and it will appear in the Ports list. Right-Click on the entry, then Properties -> Port Settings -> Advanced and select the COM port number you want from the drop-down list, even if it says "(in use)" next to the entry. You might get a warning, but just click OK. Your COM port will now be back to a reasonable setting.

Regards,
Dave.

VK2VEL
Frequent Poster
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 6:47 pm
Location: Sydney QF56mb

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK2VEL » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:20 pm

VK2VEL wrote:I bought an adapter from ebay for the Vista laptop. Vista drivers installed ok and the adapter is recognised when I plug it in, but it won't do anything when a device is plugged to it, eg serial cable to HRD or a serial mouse.

I just can't work it out, and I'm now close to going the way of the adapter sold at ZLP Electronics by G4ZLP. Expensive though....

Vista :shock:
This situation has been sorted now and the USB-Serial adapter from ebay is now working fine on the VIsta Home Premium/ Asus Pro351F laptop, with no interference noise at all.

The problem was that the instructions on the driver disk 'readme' files....Once that was sorted, the correct drivers were installed and its now ok. Not bad for $10.

If anyone does buy one of these and has problems with the drivers or figuring out the 'readme', please let me know.

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/USB-2-0-to-9-pin ... dZViewItem
73 DE ED
VK2VEL

VK2OMD
Forum Diehard
Posts: 1063
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:34 am
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK2OMD » Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:09 pm

VK1OD wrote:...
I am playing at the moment with a real cheap USB programming cable to see if it is the makings of a cheap CAT interface, these things cost less than $20 on Ebay.
Testing of a USB programming cable for a Fiedaxin FD460 indicated that it has separate TTL TXD and RXD wires, and importantly, the TXD wire was open collector (no pullup at all). These are the ingredients of an ICOM CI-V interface.
CI-V.jpg
Above is an implementation where the radio plug was cut off, a ferrite suppression sleeve installed, and a 3.5mm TS plug installed to suit an Icom transceiver.

The thing works a treat, tests fine in HRD with an IC7000. The USB/RS232 adapter uses a Prolific chip, seems quiet and cost about US$16 inc delivery on Ebay.

Disclaimers: I don't know what the fan-out capacity of the adapter is, it may not have capacity to drive more than one CI-V port (CI-V is a bus, and Icom's adapter has four ports). I did test it with a 3xTTL pull-up and it gave good logical zeros so it has a fan out of at least 3 TTL loads (sinking ~5mA). Chip specs seem to indicate 8mA driving capacity, so it should be able to sustain 4 TTL loads as per the Icom interface... but wasn't tested to that level.

BTW, there are plenty of home brew CI-V interfaces on the 'net, but... almost all of them ignore the requirement for an open collector output which risks damage to the transceiver logic. Active pull-ups should not be used on a wired OR bus.

Owen

VK4APN
Frequent Poster
Posts: 166
Joined: Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:20 pm
Location: Cairns

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK4APN » Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:00 pm

Above is an implementation where the radio plug was cut off, a ferrite suppression sleeve installed, and a 3.5mm TS plug installed to suit an Icom transceiver.]
There is another quirk regarding Icom Radios at least the ones I have - IC736, IC820H, IC910H, IC R3, IC 208H and maybe others. The CAT interface requires rx/tx data to the tip of plug whereas to program the radios via the software that I have for the 208, R3 and possibly others - requires rx/tx to second ring of 3.5mm stereo plug. So to use the one interface for all I have a stereo plug fitted permanently with rx/tx wired to second ring and a 3.5mm stereo/mono adpater fitted to a cable tie so I dont lose I - I just put it on when I need it Just an Idea.
Paul vk4apn

User avatar
VK4GHZ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 1865
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:39 pm
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK4GHZ » Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:04 pm

VK7XX wrote:As a (now retired) computer tech it has been in my interest to test a large number of different brands of these adaptor/converters.
Appropriate credentials that cannot be ignored!
VK7XX wrote:...I have found only 1 that so far, works with everything I have tried it on and that one is the ATEN model UC-232a which I use and recommend.
I purchased one ATEN UC-232a this afternoon for $25, and, from a brick and mortar computer store, not that far away!
The price sticker on the box was $45, so $25 was a great deal, considering $45 is on par with other units that have been recommended.

I'm just about to install "it" and try it out.

:D
Adam, Brisbane
http://vk4ghz.com | VK4GHZ on Youtube

10 things that happen when you stop checking Facebook constantly: http://tiny.cc/t5h7cz

VK2OMD
Forum Diehard
Posts: 1063
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:34 am
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK2OMD » Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:12 pm

vk4apn wrote:
Above is an implementation where the radio plug was cut off, a ferrite suppression sleeve installed, and a 3.5mm TS plug installed to suit an Icom transceiver.]
There is another quirk regarding Icom Radios at least the ones I have - IC736, IC820H, IC910H, IC R3, IC 208H and maybe others. The CAT interface requires rx/tx data to the tip of plug whereas to program the radios via the software that I have for the 208, R3 and possibly others - requires rx/tx to second ring of 3.5mm stereo plug. So to use the one interface for all I have a stereo plug fitted permanently with rx/tx wired to second ring and a 3.5mm stereo/mono adpater fitted to a cable tie so I dont lose I - I just put it on when I need it Just an Idea.
Paul vk4apn
Yes, the 'other' common thing that Icom does when they don't have a single 3.5 TR jack dedicated to CI-V, is to provide a CI-V or programming interface via the R on a TRS jack used for an external speaker. A small adapter can fill the bill for those radios. I think I have seen a USB adapter with RS of a TRS plus used for programming ready to go on Ebay for about $20.

Owen

VK2OMD
Forum Diehard
Posts: 1063
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:34 am
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK2OMD » Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:04 am

VK4CP wrote: I'm just about to install "it" and try it out.
The UC-232A is another of the products that doesn't have a bulk standard USB A plug. Their enhanced plug is a very tight fit if you try to plug two of them into adjacent ports on common hardware.

Owen

User avatar
VK4GHZ
Forum Diehard
Posts: 1865
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:39 pm
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK4GHZ » Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:36 am

VK1OD wrote:The UC-232A is another of the products that doesn't have a bulk standard USB A plug. Their enhanced plug is a very tight fit if you try to plug two of them into adjacent ports on common hardware.Owen
Can't say I noticed this Owen.
But then again, there are four USB ports (arranged 2 x 2 rows, with plenty of room inbetween), on the back of my particular Asus.
The adapter didn't want to work when plugged into one of the ports... which led to a session of hair pulling, and unrepeatable four letter words!!!
After trying another port, it worked a treat.
My needs are modest at this stage, just keying RTS and DTR lines, etc.

:D
Adam, Brisbane
http://vk4ghz.com | VK4GHZ on Youtube

10 things that happen when you stop checking Facebook constantly: http://tiny.cc/t5h7cz

VK4VU
Frequent Poster
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2006 7:04 pm
Location: Brisbane
Contact:

Re: USB<>COM Port adapters?

Post by VK4VU » Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:55 pm

Adam,

Just recently, I also found the need to purchase a Serial/USB converter. I found that the Aten UC-232A works well, and doesn't seem to generate noise or spurious emissions anywhere in the lower 500 KHz of the 2m band. Since the unit was intended for use with a WSJT interface, the introduction of any new interference / noise was undesirable.
I also tried an ST Lab unit which made 2m unusable.

73

Rod Preston VK4KZR

Post Reply