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PCI RS232 serial port cards don't install OR install but not always at boot - XP SP1

Posted on 2009-06-29
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
Installed a single RS232 serial port PCI card in a Windows XP SP1 system.
Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't install at boot.
It comes up as COM5 when it works.

There is a soft modem on the main board that comes up COM4.
The main board RS232 port comes up COM1.
So, all COM ports seem to be accounted for.

Previous experiences with this computer and its peripherals:
There is a weather station connected / powered via USB.  Just to provide for sure power, I installed a PCI / USB card.  That seems to work OK - and did initially.

There is a Foruno GPS that connects via the needed RS232 serial port.  There seem to be at least two wiring arrangements that work - but I suspect this is all OK.

Had been using the main board RS232 serial port but this causes the following trouble:
With the Foruno turned off, everything works fine.
With the Foruno turned on, the mouse only goes in the bottom quarter of the screen.  Anything higher and it hops to the bottom.  It appears that there's confusion over serial port inputs and the mouse.  It doesn't matter if the mouse is PS/2 witj adapter or USB (same mouse).

At one point, when the mouse was USB, I saw a brief message that the computer had found a "serial mouse"????
Only saw this once.

I did try to install another serial port board but I assume that I was not able to find the correct driver for it.  Nothing I tried seemed to work.  These are NetMOS-based cards.

Oh yes, I also tried to install a USB / Serial adapter cable but it would NOT install properly - not once, not ever.  I have the driver disk that came with it so it *should* work.

All this is very strange and I need to get it fixed.
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Question by:Fred Marshall
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Expert Comment

by:ylandrum
ID: 24737739
Sounds like a resource conflict, either IRQ or I/O address. Yes, PCI is supposed to allow sharing of resources, and it does, but usually only if the two devices are not being used at the same time. So some devices still don't play nice if they have to share. For instance, I had a mobo back in the day that would not properly install the network card if it was in slot 5, because slot 5 shared bus-mastering duties with slot 1, which was the video card. It had to go in slots 2-4 to work. Other types of cards worked, but not network becuase it was "always on" as was the video. So they were constantly locking resources from the other.

Some things to try:

Go into your BIOS and disable any on-board ports (COM and LPT) that are not being used.

Obtain a manual for your motherboard and see if there is any specific duty or resource sharing among the PCI slots. Move cards around accordingly. You may be able to assign resources to slots statically; I had an Supermicro board that had that capability. In fact I had to use it to get all my stuff to work together. Check this page for standard IRQ and I/O settings: http://www.pchell.com/hardware/irqs.shtml

You can see in Device Manager what IRQs, DMAs, and I/O addresses are being used; go to the View menu and select "Resources by type" or "Resources by connection."

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by:Fred Marshall
ID: 24746367
ylandrum
Consider this:

The problem began without any add-in cards as I recall.
The OS was reloaded and that's where things started.
The Foruno on the built-in RS232 messes up the mouse - whether the mouse is on the PS/2 port or on a USB port.

I certainly agree that this acts like a conflict.  I'll pursue your suggestions.

What's puzzling is why the serial port add-in cards don't INSTALL at each boot.  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
After installing the card and driver I rebooted a number of times and "maybe" saw it fail once.
The user is seeing it fail now.
The new single serial port is on COM5 and the nav software is set to read GPS from COM5.  But now, it errors out because COM5 isn't always there!!

Now, this is a different problem (I think) from the bouncy mouse.  When the new serial port is working it seems the mouse is fine.
When the original on-board serial port is used with the Foruno turned on then the mouse misbehaves.
It's as though the computer is looking for a serial (RS232) mouse or something like that!!

Any hints here?
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Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 24759841
Can't add much to this but your problem maybe re-solved by installing xpsp2.
http://www.softwarepatch.com/windows/xpsp2.html
Burn that to a CD and upgrade xpsp1
SP2 fixed a lot of problems with USB2 support
 or xpsp3
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322389
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Fred Marshall earned 0 total points
ID: 24764674
I wondered about the SP....

The problem turns out to be well known amongst the marine community re: GPS devices.
The GPS inputs come via RS232.
If the GPS is turned on before the computer boots it appears as an added mouse.
So, now there are 2 mice and one sending weird signals.

The solution is to Disable (not Uninstall) the extra mouse.
Then all is well with the regular mouse behavior.
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:ylandrum
ID: 24765303
Of course; that makes perfect sense now. Glad you got it working.
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