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COM Ports talking to each other in Windows 7

Posted on 2014-10-30
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Last Modified: 2014-12-21
We have a laboratory PC that measures tolerances via a microscope. The microscope device is connected to the PC on a USB port set to COM1.  We want to attach a second device to the PC via USB, which we will assume will be assigned to COM2. Will both devices talk to each other automatically? If not, is there a way to manual set it up so that COM1 will communicate with COM2 or vice versa? How about if we simply get a USB splitter that attaches to the main USB port on the PC so that USB port is shared out to two connections. Will the connected devices be assigned to COM1? Or will one attached device get COM1 and the second device on the splitter get COM2 ? The goal is to get the second attached device on a USB port to talk to the first attached device on the primary USB port. Thanks in advance.
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Question by:zargf8ns
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40414449
Well if I understand your request correctly.  Yes you can setup multiple com ports on the PC using USB to Serial Adapters.

Scenario 1:  microscope connects to PC via USB adapter configured as COM1.  Be aware that normally the COM1 USB adapter will be DTE {Data Terminal Equipment}.  You need to sex the Microscope serial port which will most likely be DTE also.   There are 2 sexes in serial DTE and DCE.  DTE by definition produces or consumes data like a printer.  DCE passes data through - neither producing or consuming data.  I mention this because you will typically need a NULL-MODEM cable to connect to devices of the same sex.  In this case PC is DTE and Microscope is DTE.

Scenario2:  Add another serial device to PC it must be a different COM port.  For our purpose it will be COM2.  AGAIN sex the device being connected to determine correct cable between devices.

Also be aware that some manufacturers of USB Serial Adapters use COM ports 3 and above.
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40414459
Forgot - You typically can not get the devices to talk to each other through the pc without writing some code.  

Use a switch box setup for serial when you want to have microscope go directly to other device.

Again need more information to advise you better.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40429435
Our technicians have been onsite with this client again today and have more data to input into this question. We will spend the weekend putting together bullet points so that you can understand better what we're trying to accomplish. We will post an update on Monday of next week hopefully. Thank you for your patience.
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40429686
Looking forward to the info.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40433195
Jerry - I've attached a small PDF \ PowerPoint showing the setup. We have a measuring device (Micro-VU) attached to a Windows 7 workstation via USB. That connection interfaces with a software package called "InSpec". Within the software package you can change the COM port. Also installed on the workstation is a software client called "MES-HYDRA". This client talks to the MES server on the network. The MES system gathers production data from robotic units. As far as I can tell there is no COM port associated with the MES client on this workstation. The manager wants "InSpec" to talk to the MES Client on this workstation. A tech person previous to us appears to have installed  a Port Emulator package. In device Mgr for this Port Emulator package there are yellow exclamation points over their entries, indicating that the proper drivers for the package are not installed. Do you know of a way to get the "InSpec" program to talk to the "MES-Hydra" system? Thanks in advance. Joe W.\Safe Harbor
ComPortProblem.pdf
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40433210
Looking at your info.
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40433363
The tech was creating a VIRTUAL Serial Port using open source software from Source Forge.

 http://sourceforge.net/projects/com0com/

Need following information:

1.  Is following I/O adapter (PCI) installed in the WIN7 Workstation?
     MIO6469A 1-port RS-232 & 1-port Parallel PCI Express Multi-I/O Board  -OR -
     MIO5069A 1-port RS-232 & 1-port Parallel Universal PCI Multi-I/O Board
2.  Run msinfo32 - after information is populated then under file select export and save to text file.
3.  Attach file so I can see it or put in cloud so I can pick it up.
4.  Take picture of back of workstation showing I/O and cabling
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40433391
I will have to go onsite to find out. Just to clarify ... You need to know if a specific PCI card with an RS-232 serial port is installed in the workstation ?  Offhand - I don't think so. I would think that the RS-232 serial port ( if there is one ) would be embedded on the motherboard itself. If it does not have this card or an RS-232 port, do we need to get one? How would that type of interface communicate with the MES-HYDRA Client?  Sorry for all the questions. Thanks, Joe W.
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40433438
Your screenshot on page 4 shows a separate I/O card is installed manufactured by SUNIX.  The output from msinfo32 will clarify that.  Also appears there is one com port embedded on motherboard - again msinfo32 will reveal all.

I need to have a clear understanding of all the possible configurations.  I am reviewing the software - msinfo32 will reveal software versions that is installed on workstation.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40436109
Jerry - I have run the msinfo32 routine on the machine, but when you click on any one of the sections it will populate with data, but the export only contains that part of the tree you're focused on. Which part of the tree should I select and then export to give you the data that you need? Or will I need several exports? Thanks, Joe W. (See attached screen shot)
MSinfo32-Example.jpg
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40436194
You get everything by select the top level which says 'System Summary' then exporting.
Don't worry about the right hand Window populating.
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40436201
By the way this a good thing to collect and keep for trouble shooting.   Also check out free utility called  Syi-server.  You can put it on USB thumb drive.   Plug it in and run then save file - move onto next pc.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40436254
Jerry, here is the proper MSINFO32 file you need, directly from the workstation we're having the problem with. I will be onsite tomorrow at the client location. Let me know what you find out. Maybe we can get this taken care of then. Thanks, Joe W.
MSinfo32-111114.txt
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40436293
Got it - checking it out.
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Jerry Mills earned 500 total points
ID: 40436669
From msinfo32 export I can see that there is an I/O Adapter with 1 serial and 1 parallel port.  I can also see that Macro-VU has claimed the serial port on behalf of InSpec version 2.9.  Your Optical inspector (Excel) should have a cable running to the serial port of the I/O adapter which according to information in Device Manager is showing as COM3 on the Dell OptiPlex 7010.

Here is the tricky part on my advising you.  One - I don't have the user/service manual for the Micro-VU Excel equipment so I don't know if the serial port on the Micro-VU is a physical RS232C port.  For purpose of my further explanation - I will assume that the Micro-VU Excel is using a true serial port.

Now regarding the virtual serial port - a virtual serial port works in software and is translated to a physical COM port on the OptiPlex which then connects physically to the Micro-VU RS232C port to read and send data.  The tricky part is you only get one physical connection which means the applications  InSpec for Windows and MES-System Hydra have to share the same physical connection.  Two applications trying to use one port typically do not play nice and you can not share the same physical connection as the applications become confused.  Really smart software engineers can work out a solution and but without all the documentation (technical) I cannot say if this has been done.

So I am going to suggest an old fashioned legacy solution which is what you originally asked using a USB Serial Adapter.  The solution uses a good old fashioned serial switch box.

1)  you will need a 2x1 serial switch box.  Most likely you have 9-pin connector coming from the Micro-VU.  This cable will be the common serial connection and connected to the serial switch box on common port.
2)  I would also uninstall com0com on the OptiPlex.
3)  You will need 2 more serial cables (straight-thru  NOT null-modem) with 9-pin connectors on both ends.  I expect these cables to require female 9-pin connectors.
4)  Because the common cable is supplied by Micro-VU for it's product it will be correctly wired.  There is only 1 mandatory connection in serial RS232C which is signal ground.  Everything else is a free for all.  So this is why the Micro-VU cable is so important and needs to be the common cable shared by the switch box.

Keep in mind you will need to configure each application for COM port connection.  InSpec for windows is referring to the OptiPlex serial port and NOT the Micro-VU serial port.  I suspect the Micro-VU Excel serial port baud rate is already set for 9600bps.  You should actually be matching the OptiPlex COM port to the Micro-VU.

5) Connect COM3 which should be on the I/O adapter to switch position A ( or 1).  Set switch box to route A to common cable.  Test Micro-VU works with InSpec.
6) Once InSpec is working connect the other serial cable from the OptiPlex motherboard or the USB Serial Adapter configured to COM2 if you installed it to switch position B.  Switch box to route B to common cable and test MES-System Hydra.

MES-System Hydra is suppose to be able to claim a serial port on OptiPlex to communicate with the measurement device.  Data is then read from the Micro-VU and sent to a database over TCP/IP.  Theoretically it should use another COM port.  According to msinfo32 there are only 2 serial ports (COM1 and COM3).   So an educated guess is COM1 could be used by MES Hydra.

Summation:  With this setup you can run both applications simultaneously but only one or the other can access the Micro-VU Excel.  The operator only needs to switch between port A and B as the switch box will determine which application will be accessing the Micro-VU Excel appliance.  You can do this using virtual solutions which requires both virtual serial and virtual hub to replace the physical switch box.  Modern switch boxes can have keyboard (OptiPlex) short cuts that cause the switch to change between ports so you don't need to use the physical switch between ports.

Without technical documentation for the InSpec for Windows, MES-System Hydra and Micro-VU this is a close as I can get you.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40437229
Jerry - let me digest your feedback and I'll get back with you later today or tomorrow. THANK YOU for this information. Joe W.
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40437916
Joe - any chance your customer has soft copies of Micro-VU Excel and InSpec?
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40438024
Jerry - not sure what you mean by soft copies .... Do you mean copies of the software that interfaces with the machine, or User Manuals ?  If it's software, I doubt it, since it's most likely licensed, but I'll check. Let me know. Joe W.
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40438108
Soft copies are pdf files or ebooks.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40438140
OK, I'll see what I can come up with ... Joe W.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40442916
Jerry - A point of clarification - The MES-Hydra "client" on the workstation talks to the MES "server" on the local network via IP address\network name. It has no physical connection to the workstation. That's really the problem as I see it - how to port data from the InSpec application on COM3 and get it ported to the MES-Hydra client on the same workstation. I am working with the operator of the equipment to get electronic documentation to you. Thanks for you help and patience.
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40443621
I thought that was case.  So serial connection I described won't work.  Without good documentation I can't recommend beyond what I have.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40467156
Working on getting you the user manuals. Thanks, Joe W. \ Safe Harbor
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40469438
Good.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40472746
Jerry, I was able to obtain 3 user manuals for the Micro VU device. Obtaining info on the HYDRA system will be a little problematic, since it's a German piece of software. I will be making inquiries of the Home Office this week. THANK You for your time and effort.
UGInSpec2Man.pdf
UGInSpec2ManVis.pdf
UGInSpec2Vis.pdf
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40472776
Reviewing manuals
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40472803
UGInSpec2Vis.pdf is manual that has the basic information.  Still also need administrator / installation manual for the Micro Vu.  Basically chapter 12, 13 and Addendum B tell the story.  

HYDRA information will be required.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40483548
OK Jerry. I'll see that I can do. It'll be "iffy" on the HYDRA documentation. I'll know something by early next week. Joe W. \ Safe Harbor
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40483654
Thanks - understand difficulty.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40511716
Jerry - we have been in contact with the Manufacturer of the Micro-Vu system to start the conversation with their support. At this point I would like to close out this question and reward you your points since you input has been of great benefit. If we need to re-address any of the COM port issues discussed herein we will re-ask or re-open the question. Thank you for your assistance and have a Merry Christmas.
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by:zargf8ns
ID: 40511718
Jerry - we have been in contact with the Manufacturer of the Micro-Vu system to start the conversation with their support. At this point I would like to close out this question and reward you your points since you input has been of great benefit. If we need to re-address any of the COM port issues discussed herein we will re-ask or re-open the question. Thank you for your assistance and have a Merry Christmas.
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by:Jerry Mills
ID: 40512123
Excellent - exactly where you need to be.  Have a Merry Christmas.
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