15 pin female to 9 pin male

I have a ThinkPad 380 that does not have a 15 pin input.  There is also some custom controls which plug into 15 pins.  There is a blue box that has a 15 pin female end and a 9 pin male end.  The custom controls plug into the blue box, the blue box plugs into the laptop, and it functions as a joystick.  

The computer was recently reformatted with Windows 98.  Now the custom controls do not function as they used to.  They work for a little while then crash the program.  I believe it is the driver (or lack of one) for the 'blue box' that is the problem.  The box has no markings on it that say what it is or who made it or anything.  

Any ideas?  What is this blue box (gameport)?  Does it need drivers?  Is it a Windows 98 problem (used to have 95)?  Gaming Options in the Control Panel doesn't recognise that controls are hooked up to the machine yet the program can function for a little while by pointing it to COM1.

Please ask for clarification as I know I didn't describe everything well.  My hardware knowledge is limited.  Thank you.
CuhoAsked:
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davebytesConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Back of the thinkpad 380 is a VGA connector, Parallel connector, Serial connector, power/AC, and input-device connector (I assume PS2/serial).  I agree with Pete, sound like your box is a serial-to-GamePort adapter of some sort.  If it's a custom device, you might need specific drivers for it, as under Win95/98 you generally needed proper gameport drivers for a custom device (though not for 'standard' joysticks).

You could also pick up either:
a. a PCMCIA-midi/gameport adapter card, or
b. an IBM Port Replicator

Both of which would give you a gameport.  I'd go with the port replicator myself, do a search on google or ebay for "IBM 380 port replicator" (I just did), and for $20-30 you can pick one up, get rid of the 'mystery box', and have a 'real hardware gameport' as was designed for the 380...  Get a used/refurb, and don't pay more than $20+s/h, IMHO.

-d
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Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
>>I have a ThinkPad 380 that does not have a 15 pin input.

you mean an old MIDI socket (used to be used for joysticks?)
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Pete LongConnect With a Mentor Technical ConsultantCommented:
Im gusssing this blue box is just a MIDI to Serial converter - and its probablt failing (cause you shouldny need any drivers for it)
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Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
god my typing is bad!! you get the jist =/
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CuhoAuthor Commented:
Hmmm.  OK.  I believe you are right about what the 'blue box' is.  So it is just coincidence that it failed at the same time I reformatted the disk?  I know weirder stuff has happened to me when it comes to computers but I still believe it may be an error in settings.  Is there anything in the settings I could be looking for?  
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Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
>> I know weirder stuff has happened to me when it comes to computers but I still believe it may be an error in settings

LOL indeed - Its just using a COM port (probably COM1 but not nessasarily)

Start > run > devmgmt.msc {Enter}
expand Ports (COM&LPT)

double click each com port and select the resorces tab - make sure they all say (No Conflicts)

All you can do other than that is make sure you have all the latest drivers for the motherboard and for your Operating system - if it still misbehaves chances are its on its way out - buy yourself a nice USB one :)
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CuhoAuthor Commented:
Well, it seems to be working for now.  Unfortunately, I did a few things and I am unsure as to which solution fixed the problem.  I:
 - updated every driver I could on the machine,
 - installed some missing Windows updates,
 - triple checked every connection, including power to the adapter,
 - and changed the COM port on the program and reconfigured it.

Thank you for your suggestions.  I will award the points tomorrow after testing it out a bit more.  Thank you very much.
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Pete LongTechnical ConsultantCommented:
ThanQ
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