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Serial To Usb Adapters


sherwood01
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... a difference of $25 in the cost of USB to Serial adapters? I went to the electronics place across the street, and they wanted $30 for an adapter. Now I may like to blow some bucks on occasion (probably too many occasions :o) on high tech toys, but $30 for the ability to download coordinates instead of manually entering them into my GPS? Not worth it, IMHO.

 

Then I saw on ebay they're selling USB to Serial adapters for something along the lines of $4 or $5 each (plus their typically overpriced shipping charges).

 

So now I'm perplexed. Might there be something WRONG with those, compatibility issues or something, that makes them so cheap? It seems to me that a cable is a cable is a cable, and both the cheap and more expensive versions come with manuals and driver software and everything. The only difference is the brand and the price.

 

Can anyone share any insight as to how much I actually SHOULD spend on a serial to USB adapter? IS $30 not actually out of the question and I'm just being too cheap? Or can I get by with the much cheaper $5 cable instead?

 

And if there is anyplace ELSE that anyone might recommend to get something like this, I'm definitely open to suggestions.

 

Thanks in advance.

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... a difference of $25 in the cost of USB to Serial adapters? I went to the electronics place across the street, and they wanted $30 for an adapter. Now I may like to blow some bucks on occasion (probably too many occasions :o) on high tech toys, but $30 for the ability to download coordinates instead of manually entering them into my GPS? Not worth it, IMHO.

One of the main factors in these types of adapters is how well the assiciated software driver that comes with it works. I've never used an adapter for GPS, but I have for other serial devices. Some of the cheaper adapters drivers were junk and as a result, the software using them couldn't recognize the COM port correctly... I'd suggest going with a name brand like Belkin, Targus, etc.

 

Oh and, once you start downloading waypoints, you'll realize that it's 1000% more time efficient than doing it by hand - I mean, time being money, having your GPS hooked up will pay for itself...

 

Check out: http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=belkin...oogle&scoring=p

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I don't think that $25 -30.00 is out of line. This is the unit that I bought, and it has worked very well. IMHO, if you start doing some serious caching it won't take very long at all before you will get tired of punching in numbers. There are some compatibility issues, but they don't seem to be consistent. Personally, I would spend the $$$. You won't regret it!

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Shouldn't cost you more than $20 for a decent one.

 

As for a cable being a cable, a USB->RS232 "adaptor" isn't an adaptor at all, and is much more than a cable. It's an actual peripheral, just like a modem, network card, etc. It uses power (supplied by the USB port) and requires a driver in order for the operating system to see and use it, just like the modem or NIC.

 

In many cases, you do get what you pay for, but $30 is too much (IMHO). Keep shopping around. You could always try one of the cheap ones. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect, as long as it works for your specific application.

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Then I saw on ebay they're selling USB to Serial adapters for something along the lines of $4 or $5 each (plus their typically overpriced shipping charges).

 

So now I'm perplexed. Might there be something WRONG with those, compatibility issues or something, that makes them so cheap?

What I've learned from reading these repeating "which serial to usb cable" threads is that its much hit and miss. Some work for some with certain setups, and not for others... the best suggestion would seem to be to get something you can return. That way if it doesn't work for your setup, you can take it back. The ones off ebay may be cheap, but can you return them? $5 for something you can't use is not a deal :lol: .

 

$30 is what I paid for the one I use, got it at bestbuy, works good so far.

30 bucks might be the 'cheap' (and in my case the actual garmin one is $60!) part after you've paid out for a gps and cable (and perhaps other add-ons). Once you get used to the ease with which you can upload hundreds of point you might think 30 wasn't that bad. Also, if your gps allows additional maps, you'll need to be able to connect to your computer for that.

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:lol: I purchased a USB to Serial adapter at Radio Shack. It was in the $30 plus range. It seems to work fine with my laptop, which is running XP Pro. The only problem is if I have hotsync for my PDA (Tungsten E) enabled during startup. This causes a Com port conflict. The USB-Serial adapter picks Comm port 5 for my GPS and this is also the port for the PDA, no matter which USB port I plug into. So when I receive the error message from easygps, that it can't find the GPS, the first thing I check is to see if Hotsync is activated and terminate it, if it is. :D
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Thanks for all the excellent advice. I ended up sort of following ALL of it, actually. I wasn't going to get one, at least not right way, until I actually hooked the GPS to our other computer upstairs this morning (on an ancient Packard Bell that actually DOES have a serial port) and experienced first hand how EASY transferring waypoints from EasyGPS to my Legend was.

 

:tongue:

 

And that was all it took. Deciding that I'd MUCH rather do my downloading at 2.8ghz on my cable connection than at 200mhz at 33.something dialup, I opted to take a chance on a relatively cheap ($17 inc. shipping) cable on ebay, but did spend the few extra bucks that it took to get the Belkin brand name, figuring I'd have fewer compatability issues that way.

 

So we'll see how it goes. :rolleyes:

 

Thanks everyone, for all the input.

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Does the USB adapter do anything to help the incredibly slow download speeds for the larger files like Garmins maps? It took about 45 minutes to load in 23 megs of maps the other day. And while I'm griping, does anyone know why Garmin is still using a serial connection instead of updating to a faster comm device like USB?

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Does the USB adapter do anything to help the incredibly slow download speeds for the larger files like Garmins maps?

The USB->Serial device won't help with transfer speeds. A serial connection works at specific speeds (2400bps, 28.8kbps, etc).

 

And while I'm griping, does anyone know why Garmin is still using a serial connection instead of updating to a faster comm device like USB?

Take a look at the 60C and 60CS. They both support USB.

 

There's a very good reason for them to continue supporting serial. The NMEA protocol, which is the standard protocol used to interface with GPS devices, is well defined and based on the RS232 (serial) standard. In order for a device to work with any of the hundreds (thousands?) of software applications and other hardware devices, it must support NMEA, which means that it must have a serial connection. The 60C/S supports USB but also has a serial connection to maintain NMEA compatibility.

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I opted to take a chance on a relatively cheap ($17 inc. shipping) cable on ebay, but did spend the few extra bucks that it took to get the Belkin brand name, figuring I'd have fewer compatability issues that way.

Just an update on the situation, in case anyone else can make use of the info...

 

My $17 Belkin cable that I bought off of ebay came in yesterday, and it works absolutely great. No compatibility issues at all. The instructions said nothing about installing drivers for XP, so I skipped using the included driver CD and downloaded new XP drivers off the Belkin website instead. Did a quick reboot after running set up, plugged in the cable and GPS, started running EasyGPS, and within a couple of minutes, after switching the setting to COM4 (it didn't seem to like COM3), I'd downloaded something like 63 waypoints for the Ocracoke area where I'll be heading for a mini-vacation next month. 'Course I only wanted FIVE of them, but I'll figure out what I did wrong the next time around. :D

 

WELL worth the $17 I paid for the thing. Sure beats $30+ at the Staples across the street.

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I may have missed something previous to this discussion - but I think someone can help me. I have an etrex and was all prepared to buy a cable to download waypoints, then noticed it is a serial port. So i looked into buying a usb adapter. And that is how I got here. I have cable modem, so I like things fast. Should i get teh cable and the usb adapter? and what about a car or home adapter, has anyone bought one and found it worthwhile?

Thanks, CCC :D

Edited by camp chaos clan
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I may have missed something previous to this discussion - but I think someone can help me. I have an etrex and was all prepared to buy a cable to download waypoints, then noticed it is a serial port. So i looked into buying a usb adapter. And that is how I got here. I have cable modem, so I like things fast. Should i get teh cable and the usb adapter? and what about a car or home adapter, has anyone bought one and found it worthwhile?

Thanks, CCC :D

You are on about 6 tracks here.

 

Your GPS uses a serial interface. If your computer has a serial port you only need a serial cable for it. If your computer doesnt' have serial but does have USB you will need the USB to serial converter. Then you will still need the Serial cable for your GPS.

 

A car adapter I assume is a power cable for your GPS but if you have rechargable batteries you might be better served by carrying extra batteries and skipping the cable. You can get a car battery charger or a charger like one by Maha that you can hook to solar, AC, and the Car depending on what you are trying to do. I've found the car charger handy on extended trips and camping.

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Terra cachers,

thanks, okay maybe I was on a few tracks at once!

But you pretty much answered my quesitons. My laptop has a serial port, so i will skip the usb (I just thought it might make it faster).

I think the car adapter runs the gps in place of batteries, but of course won't charge it. I jsut keep xtra batteries with me.

Thanks

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