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Map Or Emulate Com Port With USB

HELLO...

I have a Legacy business application, which ONLY enables printer output to a COMx port.  The problem is, that all recent computers that can be purchased, don't even have legacy ports.  What's even worse than that, though, is that the printers are becomming less and less available with COMx I/O...in fact, most are USB (which makes sense).

So...here's the situation...

Let's assume we can ONLY get USB printers, period.  And, let's further assume, that the computers cannot have an RS232 port of any kind.  Isn't there a way, in which we can either:'

(a) emulate a COMx port, even though we're actually outputting to the USB port
---or---
(b) cleverly map COMx somehow to LPTx...such that the computer "thinks" it's outputting to COMx...but in reality it's outputting to LPTx...which is "mapped" to USB via WinXp printer sharing techniques?

Please help!  We need to resolve this for a store that is currently down.  Thank You Kindly!...Mark
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datatechcorp
Asked:
datatechcorp
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1 Solution
 
acl-puzzCommented:
You could try this driver to turn a USB port into a COM port

http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm

give it a try
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datatechcorpAuthor Commented:
Hi ACL...

Yeah, I saw that.  Do you have any experience with that driver?  The *ONLY* thing that concerned me with this...is that on their webpage...it specifies that "...FTDI device drivers may be used only in conjunction with products based on FTDI parts...".  Will that cause any havoc or conflicts on my XP Pro workstation?  Thoughts?
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B HCommented:
have you considered using an actual usb port?  it will come with its own driver, which will create something like com12, your old application wont even know the difference.

you can pick any lower unused com port too

hopefully this link parses properly:

http://cgi.ebay.com/USB-2-0-to-9-Pins-RS232-Com-Port-Serial-Convert-Adaptor_W0QQitemZ260570395327QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3cab34b2bf


http://cgi.ebay.com/USB-2-0-to-9-Pins-RS232-Com-Port-Serial-Convert-Adaptor_W0QQitemZ260570395327QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3cab34b2bf

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acl-puzzCommented:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/XP/Q_25479358.html?cid=1573#a28368773

i saw this info at above question  and yours concern is right it can be havoc!!
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datatechcorpAuthor Commented:
BRYON:

Thanks for your response, but that apparatus...ONLY works plugged into a USB Port...and enables an RS232 connection.  We don't want that...we want to retain the current "USB Port to a USB Printer" capability...but make the Operating System "think" it's printing to COMx.  Thus, we likely need some type of software emulation and/or clever port redirection techniques.  Thoughts?  Thanks!...Mark
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Encrypted1024Commented:
You can use the net use command to map to an LPT port. Not sure if it supports com ports.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314499

I have used this to print from legacy apps to shared USB printers.
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datatechcorpAuthor Commented:
ENCRYPTED:

Thank you for responding!  I know that too...I've used that trick many, many times over the years.  But, the software, which the company has many Thousands $$$ and time and training and everything else in...simply demands that I make this work!  And, that software, can ONLY print to COMx.  Thus, my dilemma.  Any other ideas?  I'm open to ANYTHING that will lead to a solution.  Please let me know...Thanks!...Mark
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Encrypted1024Commented:
What about buying a PC with a serial port. They are still available. You can still buy serial printers as well. Depending on the App you can even use Remote Desktop or a Terminal server. Then you can just buy 1 sever and 1 serial printer and run the app through terminal services.
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datatechcorpAuthor Commented:
The problem is...there are particular printers involved, which are ONLY USB printers...and that in and of itself creates a big constraint.  There's no Serial-to-USB cable (where the serial port is on the computer...and the USB connection is on the printer) capability...per Belkin and CablesToGo engineers.  That's when I started the Experts Exchange route :-)...
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Encrypted1024Commented:
Why do you need to use USB printers?
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datatechcorpAuthor Commented:
Can't get them in Serial configurations anymore.
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Encrypted1024Commented:
Epson and Okidata both still make serial printers.
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datatechcorpAuthor Commented:
This is for label printing, not for receipts...and the software only goes to 'ports'...it does not pull in the Windows print manager functionality into the equation.  And it's specific for 'rolled' label type printing...i.e. for things like shelf tags & such, must be batch, must adhere to label stock, and so forth.
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MatthewSRCommented:
From a similar discussion:

"It appears that there is no generic driver that will make any arbitrary USB device look like a COM port. However, if the manufacturer implements the device end properly and provides a suitable driver for the PC / Laptop, then the device can be made to look like a COM port."

http://www.techsupportforum.com/hardware-support/laptop-support/255532-how-make-usb-input-look-like-comxx.html

In the above case he was lucky enough that the developers of the software he used provided specific USB-to-COM drivers for their GPS hardware.

So it's looking like there's no easy solution; there might just be a printer manufacturer out there that provides the driver you are looking for with a speciific printer, will have a look shortly - other than that purchasing physical USB-to-COM adapters along with serial printers seems to be the only other way.
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datatechcorpAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone for your input thus far...researching some of these suggestions/tips...but I knew this one was gonna' be a "toughie"...

Let me know if y'all have any other thoughts...they very much appreciated & welcomed!...Thanks!...Mark
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datatechcorpAuthor Commented:
There's been no real answer to this dilemma, so I'm going to close this question out and issue the points.  I wanted to allocate the points to everyone who helped assist here, but apparently...for THIS question (possibly because it's been stale for a while?!?)...there's no allocation button?!?  Again, thank you to everyone who chimed in here!  Much appreciated!!!
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