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 come with their own USB cable
  • These scanners should be able to use the Whistler cable, listed below.

Radio Shack Scanners

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

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 see notes above Pro-2067 NO
Pro-93 NO Pro-2053 NO
Pro-94 YES
Pro-95 NO
Pro-96 NO Pro-2096 NO
Pro-2051 YES
Pro-97 NO Pro-2055 NO
Pro-99 NO
Pro-106 NO Pro-197 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

Uniden Scanners

  • Uniden USB-1 cable (for other Uniden Scanners)
    • From E-Bay
    • From Scanner Master
    • Certified to work with the BC95XLT and the DMA Scanners (includes XT versions)
    • The link for the latest USB-1 drivers can be found here
      • NOTE: Uniden handhelds often include a Serial (RS-232) programming cable; a USB-1 cable or a USB to RS-232 converter may be required to interface with PCs that lack serial ports.

Whistler Products

Generic USB to RS-232 serial converters

If the programming cable for your radio requires an RS-232 serial interface and your computer only has USB ports, you may be able to use to a USB to RS-232 serial converter. They are available from various computer and office supply retailers. Cables which use the FTDI chip or authentic Prolific PL2303 chipsets work the most reliably.

Note that some very inexpensive converter cables (<$10) are available, but many of them use counterfeit chipsets. Prolific has, with their latest driver release, made their drivers incompatible with any but authentic chips. 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.

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
  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...
    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
  3. Connect the adapter
  4. Connect the cable from the scanner

All of this assumes that you have first set the COM port of your scanner up to the transfer speed you desire. 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 (or similar) mode.

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.

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