Review of generic USB to Serial (RS232) adaptors

Having purchased a number of generic USB to serial adaptors from eBay, I thought I would go over the pros and cons of the types available.

Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (counterfeit)

Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (counterfeit)

The least expensive of those found on eBay, apparently these have a counterfeit Prolific chip, which limits them to working only on Windows XP.

From Prolific;

Please be warned that counterfeit (fake) PL-2303HX (Chip Rev A) USB to Serial Controller ICs using Prolific’s trademark logo, brandname, and device drivers, were being sold in the China market. Counterfeit IC products show exactly the same outside chip markings but generally are of poor quality and causes Windows driver compatibility issues (Yellow Mark Error Code 10 in Device Manager). We issue this warning to all our customers and consumers to avoid confusion and false purchase.

As you can see on my Windows 7 machine I have the Code 10. I have had this cable working fine on a Windows XP machine though.

Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (counterfeit) Device Manager

Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (counterfeit) Code 10

USB-SERIAL CH340

USB-SERIAL CH340

With very similar packaging to the counterfeit Prolific above, and slightly more expensive, you can find these on eBay by search for Windows 7 compatible. These use the CH340 USB to serial IC and don’t have any problems installing on a Windows 7 machine. I have found that some serial devices do not like this adaptor, which made resulted in the purchase below.

USB-SERIAL CH340 Device Manager

Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port

Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port
Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port label

Possibly the real deal, and slightly more expensive then above. This Prolific PL2303 USB to serial adaptor has no problems installing on Windows 7, and my Solar Inverter which I was using to test, had no problems communicating unlike the above.  If you don’t want to waste time, get this adaptor, easily spotting with the black housing.

Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port Device Manager

ComputerSphere – modding the original base to include a DVD burner

I thought for a change in scenery, I would look at modding the original square base. The square base was an attachment that could be used to support the Videosphere, it wasn’t needed if the Videosphere was hanging. To keep with this idea, I decided to make the base a removable DVDRW drive, with a connection to a standard USB, the base could still be removed and was not essential to the operation.

The original Videosphere base after polishing

I purchased a slot load DVDRW drive from eBay for $50 and a USB slim laptop drive SATA adaptor for around $10.

Slot load DVD burner with USB adaptor

First I glued some wooden pieces to the inside of the base, and this provided me with mounting points.

Glued some wooden pieces for mounting supports

I created some brackets for the DVD drive from some quarter channel aluminium and a hacked older CD drive.

Brackets on the DVD burner for mounting

With the position of the DVDRW drive now know, I cut a slot into the plastic square base with a Dremel.

Rough cut of the slot on the base with a Dremel

Once the slot was large enough it was cleaned up with a file.

The slot on the base neatened up with a file

The DVD burner mounted inside the Videosphere’s base.

Mount the DVD burner into the Videosphere base

The work in progress.

The finished product

Next post I will look at fixing up the USB cable at adding some obligatory lighting to the base.

Review of USB Safely Remove – the device cannot be stopped right now

Sick of constantly experiencing the Window’s “The device ‘Generic volume’ cannot be stopped because a program is still accessing it.” message, I decided to give the program USB Safely Remove a test.

The first time trying to stop my USB hard-disk-drive I get the following “Could not find any processes locking USB device!”, great, the one program that advertises as “an enhanced and hassle-free replacement for Windows safe removal tool” doesn’t even work.

Back to directly unplugging the drive.

USB Safely Remove - the device cannot be stopped right now

USB Wireless Presenter with Mouse and AutoHotkey

I bought this USB Wireless Presenter for 12 USD from eBay as I needed to control the music and slideshow at a reception.

It turned out to better than I expected, some of the reasons i purchased this was;

  • Radio Frequency technology – no need to ‘point’ it at a receiver.
  • 25m operating distance – enough for all large rooms.
  • 6 buttons – plus more if you add key combinations.
  • Mouse emulation – though I never used this.
  • AAA batteries.
Now, previously having heard of AutoHotkey, it was time to try it out.
AutoHotkey is a great little program, takes a little getting use to, but once you do, you can pretty much do anything.
Here’s the code I used, comments explain the buttons;
; up button - increase volume
LWin::Send {vkAFsc130}

; down button - decrease volume
SC030::Send {vkAEsc12E}

; left button - pause winamp (must have global hotkeys on)
Shift & F5::Send ^!{Home}

; right button - mute
;Esc::Send {vkADsc120}

; left button
PgUp:: msgbox, Page Up

; right button
PgDn:: msgbox, Page Down

; the following uses a two key sequence, right button (esc) and then page up, to cause the movie to play
Esc::
Input,OutputVar,L1 T2,{PgUp}
if ErrorLevel = EndKey:PgUp
Run "C:\Program Files\Combined Community Codec Pack\MPC\mpc-hc.exe" "D:\myvideo.avi" /play /fullscreen /close
return

Download the AutoHotKey file AutoHotkey.ahk

This USB Wireless Presenter, like all things from China, goes by the following other names KK806, SP-750, V-pointer and X-pointer.

USB Wireless Presenter

Huge Pine USB to Serial Ports Driver

Looking for the Huge Pine USB to Serial Ports driver?

Setup_For_HugePine.exe

Install, then connect your USB device and chose to automatically search for driver.