Optiplex 170L - Non standard COM port?

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Robert R Kircher, Jr., Aug 27, 2005.

  1. Ok I've been working with Dell equipment for years and today is the first
    time I've ever run across a problem getting hardware of any type to work on
    a Dell PC.

    I installed a new O170L in a trophy shop today and their engravers
    communicate with the software via serial ports. Well I couldn't get the
    onboard COM port to work and called the manufactures support where I was
    told that Dell uses non standard serial ports where much of the hardware
    expected by the driver software is actually emulated via software and that
    the engravers software won't work. They then proceeded to tell me that many
    customers have had luck with USB to Serial converters. Huh??? Wouldn't
    that be completely software emulation?

    Well I'm very suspicious about that answer, however, after some moving of
    COM ports around I was able to get things working with the USP to Serial
    adapter but not until moved the onboard to COM 3 made it the USB to Serial

    So I guess I have two questions.

    Anyone have any idea what's going on here?
    Is Dell using some firmware emulation to do serial communication?
    In regards to the USB to Serial adapter, am I missing something or wouldn't
    this be pure software emulation?
    And if so should I assume that Dell has done a poor job of writing their
    serial emulators?

    Anyone else have any problems with serial devices on newer Dell PC?

    Robert R Kircher, Jr., Aug 27, 2005
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  2. i wonder if there was also a modem in the system and that was perhaps the
    source of the conflict. com1/3 and 2/4 each share a single irq and can not
    be in use at the same time (ie com3 can't be used if com1 is in use). some
    modem driver software (if installed) have monitor utilities that keep the
    modem port open and therefore disable the coresponding com port that shares
    its irq.

    i have found that usb to serial port converters work quite reliably. i had
    to use many of them to enable legacy free laptops (no serial ports) to
    syncronize with the older generation blackberries, palms, and celleur
    phones. the belkin made ones never failed.
    Christopher Muto, Aug 27, 2005
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  3. No modem... and no indication of any IRQ conflict. interesting thing
    about the USP-Serial adapter is that I couldn't get the device to work with
    the adapter set to COM 2 or 3 but it worked fine at COM 1.
    Robert R Kircher, Jr., Aug 27, 2005
  4. when you enter the system bios you can select a mode for the on board serial
    it can be set to auto, com1, com3, or off. auto is the default. how is
    yours set?
    Christopher Muto, Aug 27, 2005
  5. Set to Auto. I tried both COM1 and COM3 and still couldn't get the device
    to work. Final solution was to set the onboard to COM3 in the BIOS and then
    set the USB/Serial Adapter to COM1 with in Windows. I'm really curious
    about why the device wouldn't work with the onboard serial port.
    Robert R Kircher, Jr., Aug 27, 2005
  6. Robert R Kircher, Jr.

    Ben Myers Guest

    As an alternative, you can install a PCI serial card. If the Optiplex 170L
    requires low-profile add-in cards, you may be out of luck. I have only seen
    low-profile graphics and modem cards. Could not find a low-profile network card
    when I needed one.

    Succesful implementation of a solution to run the engravers depends very much on
    the engraving software and how it is written. Some of the older serial port
    software gets right down to the bare iron talking to the serial ports. Other
    software is disciplined in working through the Windows API... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Aug 27, 2005
  7. i am curious too... and it should work. they included those ports for
    legacy compatibility. i wonder if some other software is at play here.
    perhaps an all in one printer driver suite that allows for pc faxing and so
    is emulating a comm port which isn't obviously apparent. but the important
    thing is that you have it working now.
    Christopher Muto, Aug 27, 2005
  8. Robert R Kircher, Jr.

    Tom Scales Guest


    The Linksys Gigabit card is low-profile. The end plate isn't, but you can
    work around that.

    Tom Scales, Aug 27, 2005
  9. Ahh see now Ben you're getting closer to what I think is the truth here.
    Poorly written software. This is OLD software with it's roots in Win 31.
    Now it has been updated over the years including being ported to 32bit but
    none the less it's old. Why this is so interesting it because the support
    people insist that this issues only occurs with new DELL PCs.

    As to PCI Serial card, that was going to be my first solution but Best Buy,
    the closest store, didn't have serial cards so taking the support persons
    advice I bought the USP->Serial adapter as was able to get it to work.
    Robert R Kircher, Jr., Aug 27, 2005
  10. Robert R Kircher, Jr.

    Ben Myers Guest

    Wow. Good emulation of a serial port via USB, then... Ben
    Ben Myers, Aug 27, 2005
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