USB to Serial Adapter

For many years, the serial port was an essential feature of every new computer and peripheral device. It was as common in the past as the USB port is today, but the serial port has been fading fast from the computing scene in recent years. While many people upgrade their computers every year, some continue to find uses for old peripheral devices that only have a serial port on the back. This is where a USB to serial adapter comes in handy, because it allows new and old technology to work together. All of the adapters currently available are small, inexpensive, and easy to install.

A USB to serial adapter is an accessory that has a USB plug on one end and a serial (RS-232) plug on the other end. Some brands have the two plugs mounted in a plastic housing, while other brands have a length of cable between the plugs. However, looks can be deceptive because this adapter does not have direct wire connections like many other adapters. It is a proper USB device that usually requires software drivers to be installed before it can be used. The average price of one of these adapters is less than twenty dollars, and they can be bought from most stores that sell computers or electronic gadgets.

There are many good reason to buy a USB to serial adapter. Computer peripherals made before USB was introduced usually only have a serial port available. Without an adapter, it is impossible to connect them to a modern computer that does not have serial ports. An adapter can also be used to connect an older computer without USB ports to a newer computer. Every technician who services computers should carry a few adapters around with them in their toolbox. It’s also a good idea to have a spare one in the home or office in case it’s suddenly required, as often happens when family and friends bring their computers around.

A USB to serial adapter also has some unusual applications that many people might not be aware of. It can be used to connect a computer to a telescope with a motor-driven mount, so that the telescope can be automatically position with the help of astronomy software running on the computer. An adapter can also be used to connect the electronics module of a car engine to a computer that is running diagnostic and tuning software. This helps to pinpoint problems and gives greater control over how the engine performs. An adapter can also be used to connect a wide range of scientific and industrial equipment to a computer.

For cable adapters, check the length before buying to make sure it is adequate. It can be difficult to judge the length of a cable when it is coiled up, and some adapters even have the cable hidden behind a sheet of cardboard. It is a good idea to pick up a gender changer along with the adapter, just in case a serial plug with the wrong gender has to be used. Practically all adapters support USB 2.0 and are backwards compatible with USB 1.1 but there may be some exceptions. Thumbscrews on the serial plug are good to have because they prevent the plug from being pulled out of the socket. Unfortunately, USB plugs do not have thumbscrews or any way of securing them to a port.

As mentioned before, a USB to serial adapter needs software drivers installed before it will work. These drivers are usually provided on a mini CD to save space in the package. A mini CD is about half the size of a regular CD, and while it may look too small to fit in the player it’s essentially no different and works just as well. Some drivers may have problems with certain operating systems, so it is important to check the manufacturer’s website to see if updated drivers are available. It’s rare to find a printed manual in the package, so check the website for advice about any problems.

This USB to Serial Adapter Review is Written/Updated on Mar 28th, 2010 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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