Q: USB to RS232 serial convertor problems. I cannot get your software to connect.

A: Nowadays it is getting very difficult to source a laptop or PC that has a good old-fashioned  DB 9-pin serial commport. Computer manufacturers instead build their machines with USB sockets. There are hundreds if not thousands of after-market USB – RS232 serial convertors available and most will either have internal circuitry featuring a ‘Prolific’ chip or an ‘FTDI’ chip. These two chip manufacturers, Prolific and FTDI  seem to dominate the market.

When you buy a USB to RS232 adaptor, you will be given some driver software with it. Because driver software needs to access the hardware cable it is given special privileges by the computer’s operating system (e.g. Microsoft) and needs to be stable and well written. Prolific driver software is not highly regarded judging by the myriad of adverse comments on internet tech forums. Some of our customers and here at Wood & Douglas too, have not had good results with USB to serial converters that have Prolific chips. Our strong recommendation is to buy adaptors that have FTDI chips inside. We have found these to work well with our software and radio units.

To find suppliers of suitable USB to RS232 converters, do an internet search for: -      FTDI USB RS232

If you are lucky enough to have a working laptop with a hardware RS232 commport guard it carefully. Most electronics engineers endeavour to always have one of these old-style computers nearby. They remove any uncertainties when testing software serial connections and when USB to RS232 adaptors are being used. Software that works fine with the hardware port gives a proven reference point when selecting and testing for  suitable USB converters.


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