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Using an Serial-to-USB adapter to program your LED sign

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This was originally posted on my Blogger Blog a few years ago (note the reference to Windows XP).  With the exception of Vista, using a Serial to USB adapter has only gotten easier.


As time allows, I try and play with the LED signs and changeable letter signs. (There is not a whole lot to be done with a regular changeable sign with plastic letters) And, I have done the LAN adapters and I have worked with an ethernet adapter. BUT, I have had trouble getting the Serial-to-USB adapter set up. Not anymore.....

One sign I sell, the SS500M,is shipped with an adapter. But, it is a pretty inexpensive adapter, so I never put the effort forth to make it work. I either used my desktop PC with a serial port OR I just programmed using a remote control. Today, Good Friday, I decided I was going to make the adapter work. So, I bought an IOGear adapter. The adapter came with a CD and the packaging had "Windows Compatible" on it. I felt convinced I could!

And, the installation went quickly. Windows XP easily found the driver on the CD, and it seemed to go well. I opened up my LED scrolling sign software, and I expected to quickly create a message and download it to my electronic sign. Unfortunately, my led message sign had another plan. And, after more frustration, I read the directions. It then quickly became clear that my "fear of documetation" was unfounded. When the driver is installed, it picks a COM port based on some sort of logic. And, for whatever reason, the Serial-to-USB adapter was installed on COM 9. And, since my software only allowed for 8 COM ports, the solution was easy. I changed the COM port to COM 2, and after rebooting the LED scrolling sign software, my special-effects-enhanced LED message easily downloaded.

I have had customers get their signs working with the "free" Serial-to-USB converter in the past. And, when they switched to Windows Vista, they could not use the software, adapter, and sign together. Although I don't know this for sure, I would not be surprised if this adapter [it is Vista Compatible] would solve the problems of the old adapter working with Vista. Just an idea....

If anyone has had other experience with USB adapters or LED scrolling message signs, please let me know.