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Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:09 pm
by mofan1
We have the the RaceMaster IV as the timer for our Awana Grand Prix. We've used laptops with XP on them and have had not issues with anything related to com ports etc. We lost the last laptop and now have moved to a laptop that is a 32 bit Vista OS. We had to load drivers for the IOGear USB to Serial Port. Vista accepted them fine. I went into the Hardware setup on GPRM and tried the tests. On the main page the com port was 5 and the test button was active, so I tried it, it came back com check failed to talk to timer, or something like that. I went to the timer tab and tried there and it went green. So I went back and tried to time a race, but the error that I got to begin with came up, "com port not found, if you are using a usb connection, make sure its plugged in. HELP! Our Grand Prix is next friday, May 1. :wall:

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:47 pm
by gpraceman
mofan1 wrote:We have the the RaceMaster IV as the timer for our Awana Grand Prix. We've used laptops with XP on them and have had not issues with anything related to com ports etc. We lost the last laptop and now have moved to a laptop that is a 32 bit Vista OS. We had to load drivers for the IOGear USB to Serial Port. Vista accepted them fine. I went into the Hardware setup on GPRM and tried the tests. On the main page the com port was 5 and the test button was active, so I tried it, it came back com check failed to talk to timer, or something like that. I went to the timer tab and tried there and it went green. So I went back and tried to time a race, but the error that I got to begin with came up, "com port not found, if you are using a usb connection, make sure its plugged in. HELP! Our Grand Prix is next friday, May 1. :wall:
Have you gone through the steps laid out in the first post of this thread?

Have you checked to make sure you are running with the latest update for your version of GPRM?

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:05 pm
by Fatdaddy
I found an inexpensive USB-Serial adaptor, but it wasnt because my laptop didnt have a serial port, it's because both the laptop and the timer had female serial interface. I found a part at radio shack called a gender changer, about 11 bucks, turns one of the female interfaces into a male for connection. I didnt buy one, but if it helps someone else, it was worth mentioning.

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:18 pm
by John Shreffler
A serial interface on a PC is male, 9 pin. You might be looking at a different type of connector.

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:03 pm
by gpraceman
John Shreffler wrote:A serial interface on a PC is male, 9 pin. You might be looking at a different type of connector.
Likely a 15 pin VGA connector for an external monitor.

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:06 am
by Fatdaddy
Perhaps your correct, hadnt thought of that, and obviously never tried it because it wouldn't work female to female anyway. The USB-Serial adaptor I got was about 8 bucks, so it was still cheaper than the gender changer anyway...

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:59 am
by John Shreffler
The shell is the same size, but the VGA has three rows of female contacts totaling 15, whereas the serial port has two rows of male contacts totaling 9. The VGA is known as a high density connector, the serial is standard density.

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:14 am
by gpraceman
That's a common mistake. They do look very similar, it is all in the number of pins.

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:52 am
by gpraceman
The original post has been updated to include Windows 7.

I also added in links to the Prolific and FTDI websites, as most adapters use micro processors from one of these two companies.

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:25 pm
by idpwdnut
Just thought I would share. Had to by a new laptop so started searching for one with a serial port. Found a Dell Latitude E5510 that comes standard with a serial port. Ran a race last weekend without a single glitch. It was very nice not to have to deal with all of the communication problems of my HP laptop. I suspect it was software conflicts on my HP then it was with GPRM or the serial adapter.

I have done a lot of table top testing, with just the timer and no track. It always worked well. Just moved to this area and only had the oppurinity to do one race. The pack that I did it for absolutely loved it, so hopefully they will brag it up to other packs and I can start doing more of them. It is weird going from doing 25 races from Jan to Mar of last year to only doing 1 this year, I felt kind of lost.

Anyway, if you are looking at buying a new laptop, check with the manufacturers and you may find a model with a serial port built in. I was glad that I asked around and found one.

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:03 pm
by Rukkian
Another option, is that pretty much any laptop for business has the option of a docking station, and pretty much all docking stations I have seen have serial connectors on them. You can sometimes get used docks (or port replicators) off ebay if your laptop is a year or 2 old.

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:52 pm
by gpraceman
Another option that I don't think has been mentioned is using a Serial Port ExpressCard. That assumes that your laptop has such a port. These are generally plug-n-play and give you a regular COM port as opposed to a virtual COM port which is what you get with USB to serial adapters.

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Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:42 pm
by gpraceman
Here's something that I stumbled upon from the Prolific website.
Warning Notice:

Please be warned that counterfeit (fake) PL-2303HX (Chip Rev A) USB to Serial Controller ICs using Prolific's trademark logo, brandname, and device drivers, were being sold in the China market. Counterfeit IC products show exactly the same outside chip markings but generally are of poor quality and causes Windows driver compatibility issues (Yellow Mark Error Code 10). We issue this warning to all our customers and consumers to avoid confusion and false purchase. Prolific prohibits the distribution of any PL-2303 drivers (including download links) without written permission from Prolific.
If you are running into driver issues with your adapter, Prolific does have a CheckChipVersion Tool that you can download from their website (within the latest driver download ZIP file).

People may be drawn to the ultra cheap USB to Serial Adapters available on eBay, Monoprice and other sites. They may be ultra cheap because they are built around counterfeit chipsets.

Re: USB to Serial Adapters

Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:23 am
by bstockton
I know this issue goes back a-ways but I wanted to "chip" in to add that I ran into an issue running a race yesterday trying to use my Prolific PL-2303HDX based USB-Serial adapter. I had recently done a clean install of Windows 10 Pro and thought I had it covered. Windows 10 Pro install includes a Prolific furnished driver, v 3.8.28.0 dated 10/1/2018. I mistakenly assumed that a newer release of the driver from Prolific would cover the PL-2303HDX. You know what they say about assuming. Anyway, I spun my wheels for about 10 mins troubleshooting and then I remembered reading about the issues with some PL-2303 based adapters. I jumped on Prolific's download page, checked my chip version and then installed the 3.8.25.0 version, and bingo, we were back in action. I'm thinking maybe it's time to make the switch to FTDI based chips... anyway, just my .02.

Happy racing, everybody!