Connecting scanners via USB

From The RadioReference Wiki

With the lack of serial ports on newer PCs these days, having to connect to a USB port is a necessary, but sometimes frustrating, evil. The listings below detail which USB cable to buy, and other important conditions.

GRE Scanners

  • The PSR-500 and PSR-600 both came with their own USB cable
  • These scanners are able to use the Whistler cables.
  • If you are using the older GRE cable, the PC/IF 30-290 Data Cable Driver can be found at the GRE America website

Radio Shack Scanners

  • RS USB cable SKUs
    • 20-047 Legacy
    • 20-546 Legacy
    • Catalog #: 2000546 as of 2019
  • The Whistler cable - SKU: PCIF02 is known to work with many of the RS scanners including the Pro-106, Pro-651, Pro-652 and Pro-197

Pigtail Usage Cross Reference Table
Model Use RS Pigtail? Model Use RS Pigtail?
Pro-76 Pro-2016
Pro-79 YES Pro-2017
Pro-83 YES
Pro-84 YES
Pro-89 YES
Pro-92 1 Pro-2067 NO
Pro-93 NO Pro-2053 NO
Pro-942 YES
Pro-95 NO
Pro-96 NO Pro-2096 NO
Pro-2051 YES
Pro-97 NO Pro-2055 NO
Pro-99 NO
Pro-1064 NO Pro-1974 NO
Pro-107 N/A
Pro-137 NO
Pro-162 NO Pro-160 NO
Pro-164 NO Pro-163 NO
Pro-404 NO
Pro-528 NO Pro-433 NO

  1. The original version of the PRO-92 requires the pigtail- the A and B models don't
  2. The PRO-94 came out with a B version years ago which is the only one that is PC addressable (up/download data only)
  3. The PRO-2052 is a Uniden product with a DB9 connector in the back. See the Uniden section below for more information
  4. Unlike their GRE and Whistler brothers, the Pro-106 and Pro-197 do not come with the USB cable; you must buy it separately

Uniden Scanners


Whistler Products

Aftermarket Cables for GRE / RS / Whistler Scanners

Generic USB to RS-232 serial converters

If the programming cable for your radio requires an Serial interface (DB9 female) and your computer only has USB ports, you will need to utilize a USB to Serial (DB9 male) Converter. They are available from various retailers. Cables which use the FTDI chip or authentic Prolific PL2303 chipsets work the most reliably.

Uniden's USB-1 cable, as well as cables provided by GRE and RadioShack use only authentic chipsets, and are more likely to include continued forward support.
  • Note: some very inexpensive converter cables (<$10) are available, but many use counterfeit chipsets; Prolific has made their 2013+ drivers incompatible with inauthentic chips.
  • Note: older Uniden USB-1 cables may not be able to work with newest driver and an older driver may be need pre-2012 click here for older driver.

Driver websites
From the CHIRP Wiki

USB/Serial Devices

Installation Notes

Accessing Device Manager

Unfortunately sometimes ports aren't available when you think they are, or everything appears to have installed correctly, but still doesn't seem to work. The tool that will allow you to diagnose these issues is Device Manager. You can access this tool in several ways, depending on the OS:

  • XP: Start>Control Panel>System>Hardware>Click on the Device Manager button.
  • Vista: Control Panel>System and Maintenance>Device Manager
  • Win7: Control Panel>System and Security>System>Device Manager
  • Click on Start in the Taskbar then Run and enter devmgmt.msc in the resulting box
  • Press the Windows key+R, in the resulting menu type 'devmgmt.msc'
  • Click Start --> Right click on My Computer and select Properties, click the Device Manager link on the left.
  • Press the Windows key + pause/break key
  • Set up a .bat file with the following using Notepad or Wordpad. When you want to run this, right click on it, select Run as Administrator (Vista, Win7)
set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
cd %SystemRoot%\System32
start devmgmt.msc

Checklist and Procedures

  • CAUTION: There have been numerous reports of drivers for devices that are not compatible with (or do not supply a driver for) Windows 7 64 bit. Make sure your device has a driver that is compatible before proceeding
NO USB to Serial - Click to view full size
  1. Use Device Manager to determine if other COM ports are available, and not held by Bluetooth or other devices. Sometimes such devices will hold an address even if it's not actually in use (Figure 1).
  2. Download the most up to date drivers from the manufacturer or distributor and install. Figure 2 shows one possible result. At this point you need to validate if your application can actually address the COM port that has been assigned. If it can't...

Installed Comport USB Driver - Click to view full size
  1. In the 'Ports (COM & LPT)' section of Device Manager you should see an entry that reads something like 'Serial on USB Port (COM 15)'. The actual text will vary with the driver's documentation
  2. Select the Serial Device Entry in the list
  3. Right click on it and select Properties
  4. Select the Port Settings tab and click on the Advanced button. Change the COM port address.
  5. Also in the Advanced menu, make sure the speed on the com port matches the speed the scanner is expecting, and also matches whatever the software is expecting

Uniden Scanner Port Settings

Scanner Setting to engage an open com port, some models require the GPS Port to be turned on inside the scanner, some use the term PC CONTROL, or SERIAL PORT, some automatically connect with proper USB driver for the scanner, most user connect and never have a problem some take the necessary step to save all drivers use and working and it's suggested to do just that. Sometimes a scanner will register as 'not connected' until this procedure is completed. It's beyond the scope of this article to detail this, as it tends to vary from scanner to scanner. For the Uniden DMA driven scanners, see the Freescan - Connecting Scanner to PC article which has a summary (from the Easier to Read manuals) of the MENU commands necessary to set up the speeds for the port(s). For all others, look in the scanner's manual for the keystrokes needed to put the scanner in "RMT" REMOTE (or similar) mode.

  • Note: Common transfer modes tend to work are: 9600bps, 57,600bps and 115,200bps Note, some devices don't like to be completely erased at its' highest transfer rate, safer erasing is believed to best done at a mid to slow rate.
    • For GPS users return the port speed to its correct setting.

Windows 8 Issues and Solutions

Cables Known to be Compatible with Win 8.x

Websites With Win 8.x Information

RadioReference Forum Threads on USB Issues

Windows 10 Discussions

Software Setup for Linux

Unlike Windows Linux doesn't require drivers even for RS-232 to [USB adapters] "It just works". Several Windows applications will also run on Linux with the use of Wine.

Related Links

Freescan - Connecting Scanner to PC