Almost everything is USB now. The USB device was developed specifically to get rid of the need for other types of ports and plugs. And for the most part, it does a great job.
But occasionally, you’ll need to use a device that just isn’t USB compatible. And for that, you’ll need an adaptor.
Needing an adaptor isn’t a big issue. There are tons of great adaptors on the market for almost every possible kind of port. But occasionally, for whatever reason, you’ll run into issues with your adaptor.
This is pretty common and it’s usually a pretty easy fix, sometimes even DIY. Let’s take a look at the five most common reasons for USB to serial adapter malfunction and the ways you can get your hardware back up and running.
If you don’t have the right driver for your particular port, it isn’t going to function properly.
A driver is essentially a set of instructions that allows a piece of hardware to talk to your computer. It’s how the mouse moves the cursor, the printer prints the pictures, and the camera transfers the photos.
It may be an issue of the driver being missing entirely, having the wrong driver, or having a driver that has been incorrectly installed.
This is a pretty common problem with hardware, and it’s an easy enough fix.
First, check to make sure you installed the driver in the first place. Some hardware will come with a disk that needs to be installed before it will run.
If you did install it, ensure it is the correct driver. If it didn’t come with the hardware, it may be the wrong one.
If it’s the right one and you did install it, it’s a simple matter of unplugging and plugging it back in again, or, because drivers are software, simply uninstall it and reinstall.
Sometimes the wiring just goes bad. A pet hamster chews through a cord, or a pin gets bent. It happens.
But if the pins in the USB device are bent or the wiring has become faulty, it won’t connect to the host machine. Your computer may not even recognize that there is a cable attached to it.
If the issue is chewed or otherwise damaged wires, the unfortunate truth is that you’ll need a new cord. You may be able to mitigate the problem temporarily with some electrical tape, but trying to Macguyver a solution long-term can result in larger electrical problems.
If the problem is only a bent USB pin, it’s actually not that hard of a fix. A vice and a set of needle-nose pliers can get the job done for you in about an hour.
Wait…didn’t we just talk about this?
Sort of. But there is a difference between the wiring that has been physically damaged and a cable that is malfunctioning for other reasons.
Remember that cables are essentially highways or tunnels through which information is conducted. If there is an issue somewhere along the cable, the information won’t be able to get through.
You may find that while the pins are fine and the cable is undamaged, it either doesn’t connect at all, or only does so after a few tries, and only temporarily. Transfer speeds may also be slow or buggy.
There isn’t a DIY fix here. Once cables start malfunctioning, if there is no physical issue, they will need to be replaced as soon as possible.
Luckily, USB to serial adapters are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.
If the cables are undamaged and don’t appear faulty (as in, you just took them out of the box), they may just be the wrong cables.
Everyone has a box of circuitry and wiring lying around their house. If you just grabbed one that “looked right”, it’s possible that you just put your hands on something that isn’t compatible with your current computer or hardware.
Make sure you consult the manual or start-up guide that goes with your hardware to get the right cable. Or, a manual being unavailable, remember that Google is your friend.
Locate the model number for your hardware (it should be on the hardware itself), and do a quick internet search. The proper cables should pop up in the online marketplace. Visit the site, get your new cables, and move on with your day.
If your hardware and your computer aren’t speaking the same language, you won’t get far.
And while all the information may look like 1s and 0s to you and me, computers are finicky about that sort of thing. If your serial adapter doesn’t appear to be communicating with the host computer, check to make sure the communication parameters match.
Several things can be the culprit here, but the most common is the baud rate or the rate of information transfer.
Changing the baud rate isn’t complicated, necessarily, but how you change it depends on the program and hardware you are using. To make sure you are doing it correctly, make use of Google once more, including your model number and program name.
USB to Serial Problems, Solved!
USB to Serial adapter issues are common, simply because their use is so widespread. A few bugs are going to get in somewhere.
So take a look at our list, see if your problem matches, and get your hardware up and running again!
For more on making all the tech in your life work hard for you, take a look here!