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19th Jan 2010
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TrackLogs Digital MappingTrackLogs Digital Mapping

My computer doesn't have a serial port, what now?

TrackLogs Digital Mapping

Serial, also known as RS232, is an old interface standard used to connect peripherals to computers. Over the last ten years it has been replaced by USB. Computer manufacturers, keen to cut costs, removed serial ports first from laptops and now from desktops.

Early GPS units used serial ports partly as it's a relatively easy connection to waterproof and, more significantly, because there was no other choice. Some of those early GPS units[1] are still popular today. If you need to connect a serial GPS to a modern computer with no serial port then you are most certainly not alone. Don't panic.

The USB to Serial port Adapter.

There is a solution and it's a USB to serial port adapter. These plug into an available USB port on your computer and provide a physical serial port connection into which you can connect your serial GPS.

FTDI Adapters

When purchasing a new USB adapter always look for FTDI compatibilty. FTDI provide drivers for the latest Windows systems including Windows 7 and all 64bit releases. Using an FTDI adapter will ensure troublefree operation with TrackLogs.

Magic Corp / PSync / Garmin

These are all the same part rebadged by various retailers. Magic Corp are the Taiwanese company behind the technology and, to the best of our knowledge, discontinued driver support for these devices at Windows XP. We also aren't aware of any 64bit support. Garmin did produce a USB adapter using this part but this has been discontinued and not replaced. If you have one of these parts then it should still be fine up to Windows XP, for newer operating systems or when purchasing your first USB adapter we recommend FTDI instead.

Setting up your USB adapter.

Obvious we know, but follow the instructions in the box. This is because installation can vary from device to device and it's much easier to get it right first time than it is to resolve a broken installation. All USB adapters require software drivers and these must be installed.

Talking to TrackLogs via a USB adapter.

Make sure you are running TrackLogs v3.14.10 or later. Free software updates are available on this website for all TrackLogs v3 users. TrackLogs will automatically detect your GPS through the USB adapter, no special configuration is required.

[1] Most notably the Garmin eTrex 'Yellow' which was released in 1998 and is still in active use today.

Written by TrackLogs Digital Mapping. Copyright TrackLogs Digital Mapping 2002-2017. All rights reserved. Please send any comments, questions or feedback to support@tracklogs.co.uk


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