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Gps And Laptop Won’t Talk To Each Other.


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Got a Dell Inspirion 1150 with windows XP home for Christmas. I bought the necessary items to use it with my Good Ol Garmin GPS III+ . First off why does no one make a USB GPS cable! How many Laptops these days still have serial ports! Maybe there is one but I jut missed it!


I bought a combination power / data GPS cable on ebay for $15, its not a Garmin brand, says its made by “Gibson”


I also bought a serial to USB adapter, which came with a driver disk.


I have had Mapsource Topo for a while and have had no problems with it on my home computer. (got a great deal on it, knew I would have a laptop eventually) Connects with the Gamin supplied cable just fine to the desktop PC.


Put it all together, installed mapsource and the drivers for the adapter. The computer keeps giving me errors that the GPS is not connected! I have tried manually selecting COM1-COM4, tried both USB ports and still get the same thing. I have also tried it with EasyGPS with the same results.


I tried using my old Garmin Brand cable with the laptop to rule out the off brand cable causing the problem. I also tried the off brand GPS cable on the desktop computer and it worked fine.


A friend of mine has the same set up on his newer Dell laptop with XP and mapsource metroguide as well as Easy GPS. He looked at it and all my settings and could find nothing wrong. Only difference on his is that he has a different brand of adapter and a Garmin brand DC/Data cable.


For now the thinking is that the USB / Serial Adapter is bad. Going to try his adapter on my computer later today to see. Just wondering if anyone has any other ideas on things to check?

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Which com port is the adapter actually using? Com5 seems to be the most common, but it's possible to change it. You need to go into the properties of My Computer, and find the Device Manager, then click on Ports, and find the adapter. The properties here will tell you which com port the adapter is using.


NMEA is a serial protocol, not USB. It is used by lots of devices other than PCs, so RS232 serial is the standard. Serial devices can communicate with each other using RS232, but USB slave devices can't communicate with each other. USB is a specialized, and rather limited, specification and works only on PCs. GPS needs to work with many, many other devices. There are literally millions of GPS devices installed around the world in ships, aircraft, trucks, and many other installations, and none of them use USB. It's Microsoft's fault for introducing a proprietary protocol that doesn't work with anything else, and computer manufacturers' fault for building computers without serial ports. You just have to buy an adapter to work with your system.

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To confirm what NIGHTPILOT says.... My connection from EasyGPS to my Meridian GPS comes up on COM5, It is because the USB/SERIAL adapter wants it there.... The usb/serial adapter software probably puts it there by default.


In my case it took EasyGPS a bit of time to find it, but it did.


Explore all optins in the "properties" boxes on the software when trying to communicate with GPS. As others have mentioned, be sure both units are at same BAUD rate. Yes speed matters set both at a default speed of 4800 or 9600 and see if they will sync up, you can change transfer rates later IF you can get them to talk.


Also if your laptop is syncing with a "palm pilot" or other palm like device, the sync software tends to capture COM1 and cause a problem... You may want to disable any sync software you are running to see if that frees up serial port for your setup. Also consider that sync software may be setup in laptop by default ( from factory) and you aren't even trying to sync to a plam type device so it may be happening with your knowledge or permission.



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Tried a different USB / serial Adapter, loaded the drivers and the GPS worked with my laptop fine. Guess I just got a bad adapter, what a relief that it’s not my computer. Time to go shopping again!

Glad you figured it out. I was going to suggest that your friend try your cable but you already figured out it was the cable.


Good luck.

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OK now I feel really stupid!


I emailed the seller on ebay to tell him I got a bad cable. He responded telling me he would do a refund or replacement and also told me he knew that this cable doesn’t work with Garmin GPS units. (I had not told him what it would not work on)


I sat there thinking “sure would have been nice of you to put that in the auction description” but before I responded with that I went back and looked at the auction again.


Sure enough there it was “Various USB Serial adapters have different incompatibilities. In particular, this cable is incompatible with GARMIN GPS” DOH!


I responded with “a refund would be fine, thanks”


When I bought it a made a list of people selling them with cables longer than 2 feet and then added up the buy it now price and shipping price to see which one was the best price. This one was the best… but dang if I didn’t read the whole thing first! Oh well lesson learned!


Anyone have any experience with these 3 adapters?


Belkin $24



“micro” $22



IOgear $24



These are all available locally in stores

Edited by Ramness570
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