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Old 12-05-2010, 15:52   #1
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Assign USB Port to COM Port ?

I read somewhere that it is possible to tell xp or vista to make a usb port a com port in device manager..... does anyone know if that true? I looked in device manager and all I see is USB root hub and then the other attached usb devices.

Thanks for any help
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Old 12-05-2010, 16:15   #2
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If by COM port, you mean a serial data port (as some nav programs require), then are you asking about a USB to Serial adapter? That will usually do both the hardware trick and the software change.

This is one kind, there are a fair number: Amazon.com: Keyspan High Speed USB Serial Adapter ( USA-19HS ): Electronics

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Old 12-05-2010, 16:27   #3
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I know of no way to do this. If you have a USB-Serial converter, then upon plugging it in (and installing the driver) Windows will assign it a com port number. You can then use Device Manager to change the number.
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Old 12-05-2010, 19:35   #4
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The older GPS's and Navigation programs are written for the old "serial" RS232 ports which on the computer are known as "COM1 COM2 ETC." The only way to utilize an older GPS or Navigation program on the "new" computers which only have USB ports is to use a special cable or adaptor known as a "Serial to USB" cable/plug. Along with the cable you will receive a mini-CD disc with the driver that tells the new computer to treat the USB input via the cable as a virtual COM port. Most navigation programs are set up to search all available COM ports to find the GPS signal.
- - You can obtain these Serial to USB cables on the internet for a few dollars or go to Radio Shack, or computer parts stores or similar places and pay $20-$60 for the same thing. After you obtain one put the little CD disk into your computer and follow the instructions. Some require the cable to be installed before the driver but most will install the driver and then when you computer "sees" the new device it will automatically activate the driver.
- - One thing to remember is that whatever physical USB "hole" you put the GPS into needs to be the only place you plug in that GPS. Each physical USB port has a different computer "address" and plugging the GPS into a physically different USB port will require re-installing the driver and the re-installing the navigation program's access to the GPS. To avoid that choose a USB port that is not needed for essential other equipment like printers, external mouse, etc.
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Old 12-05-2010, 19:56   #5
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GWB - It is possible to fool the computer into thinking a USB is a Com Port. I couldn't figure it out but went to computer repair center and the clerk did it in five minutes. Cost me $35.00. I had one assigned as Com2 for a MapTech program and hardware with a USB GPS puck cable.
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Old 12-05-2010, 21:04   #6
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With the newer GPS receivers and the "hockey puck" GPS receivers - they come with a USB plug already attached. So the "adaptor" cable is not needed. However, unless you have a really new navigation program you will have to use a "usb to serial driver" to make the signal available to the navigation program. That is what the technician did for BornSailor2. These drivers are generic and available free on the internet but if you want to have somebody else install it on your computer he/she will most likely charge a "service fee" for his time.
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Old 13-05-2010, 15:32   #7
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Thanks - yes thats as I expected, you need the piece of software.

Cheers
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Old 17-05-2010, 16:12   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GWB View Post
Thanks - yes thats as I expected, you need the piece of software.

Cheers
What you originally suggested is not possible. You need a hardware solution, either a stand-alone adaptor or a USB device that creates a COM port (GPS puck for example). You also generally need driver software often specific to the Windows version in use, but this is usually supplied with the hardware device. In either case a COM port is created that can be used by other programs to access the data, e.g. USB GPS feeding chartplotter. COM ports so created can be seen under Device Manager>Ports (COM & LPT)

You are not really fooling Windows here just using the USB connection as a conduit to feed data to programs written to communicate with COM ports.

I'm guessing the situation BornSailor2 refers to was just the computer clerk setting up the USB GPS to work as it was intended.

It's also possible to manually create a COM port entry (but not the COM port itself) in Device Manager. Typically this would be matched to a virtual COM port created by software such as GpsGate (which otherwise doesn't show up). This in turn would allow certain badly written software to recognise the virtual COM port it otherwise wouldn't.
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Old 17-05-2010, 16:39   #9
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Hi All - I'm not as savy as you guys seem to be with computers and programs. But let me explain what I had to accomplish. I thought it was relivant to the original question. I had a lap top that had crashed. In it was a MapTech Program that you had to list which Com port you were using. The old computer had Com Ports. My new one only has USB Ports. So the program would not work because I could not assign it a Com Port. I took it to a Shop and watch the owner go into devices and other parts of the computer and assigned a USB Port to a Com Port (USB 1 = Com Port 1) the program now would accept my input of Com Port 1 - and the USB Puck was pluged into USB 1. It sure looked to me it fooled the computer into thinking USB 1 was Com Port 1 - The GPS program works fine now on the new computer. It seemed to me this method would sove the origial posts question.
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Old 17-05-2010, 18:04   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BornSailor2 View Post
Hi All - I'm not as savy as you guys seem to be with computers and programs. But let me explain what I had to accomplish. I thought it was relivant to the original question. I had a lap top that had crashed. In it was a MapTech Program that you had to list which Com port you were using. The old computer had Com Ports. My new one only has USB Ports. So the program would not work because I could not assign it a Com Port. I took it to a Shop and watch the owner go into devices and other parts of the computer and assigned a USB Port to a Com Port (USB 1 = Com Port 1) the program now would accept my input of Com Port 1 - and the USB Puck was pluged into USB 1. It sure looked to me it fooled the computer into thinking USB 1 was Com Port 1 - The GPS program works fine now on the new computer. It seemed to me this method would sove the origial posts question.
BornSailor2,
I read it the same way you do. I think the OP just needs a utility that creates a virtual COM port for the USB device.

GWB,
You might look through the threads in the OpenCPN sub-forum. There are several discussions about these configurations. Both USB devices using virtual COM ports, and DB9 serial connections using a hardware USB converter. Might be a lot to wade through, but feel free to ask questions in there. There is also a section on this in the WIKI on the OpenCPN.org site.

-dan
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Old 17-05-2010, 19:27   #11
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I posted a reply to similar question on another sailing forum.

The issue is not so much in new vs. old software, but in existence or lack thereof of a standard.

Many modern GPS devices come with hardware that connects them to a USB port of your computer. However, USB is only a "physical" interface - it does not define how or what data is sent to the computer over the wire. As such, manufacturers come up with their own proprietary protocols of sending the data over USB. That means that, in general, the only way for software to talk directly to the device over USB is to either be from the same manufacturer, or to share in the knowledge of the proprietary protocol.

At the same time, many (though no longer all) manufacturers are willing to support "other" software (for which we should thank them, I suppose - it could have been worse). Since there is no other standard, generally speaking NMEA 0183 is it. NMEA 0183 is a text protocol and, officially works over a serial communications port. So, COM port is no longer a physical necessity, but it becomes a kind of an "interoperability standard". Device manufacturers usually provide a utility or a driver, that will create a virtual COM port on the system and present device data on that COM port in NMEA 0183 format.

Hence, generally speaking, each USB based device requires a separate and unique USB to serial port driver.
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