PC Serial Ports
Most Race Technology products use an RS232 serial port for communications with the computer for configuration, data download, etc. Of all the support questions we get at Race Technology, problems with the serial communications are the most prolific, so we've put together a few notes that we hope might help.
Race Technology's products are widely used with laptop computers and these exhibit several common problems when it comes to serial communications.
The first problems commonly encountered on laptops is that they simply don't have a serial port available, this is often the case on newer laptops. In this case, it is recommended that you purchase a USB to serial adapter from a local computer store. Once connected and installed, these simply "look" like another serial port on the PC. There are some additional notes about using USB/serial adapters below.
Even where the laptop has a serial port available, in many cases the port is not a full implementation of the RS232 standard and may simply not be capable of high speed use. If you are having problems connecting and downloading to Race Technology using a laptop, then try the same operations on a desktop, if the problem disappears then it is probably because the serial port on the laptop simply isn't satisfactory for high speed use. Again, the best solution is to use a USB to serial port converter.
If the laptop has both an IrDa and a serial port, then it is common practice that they share some of the computer's internal resources and, as a result, the serial port won't work very well. In this case, the best solution is to go to the computer's BIOS settings and disable the IrDa port.
Another increasingly common problem is that the serial port is under the control of PDA or mobile phone software that is installed, this can cause some strange results when the Race Technology software tries to communicate with the hardware using the same serial port. The problem is that the PDA software continually transmits data packets to see if there is a PDA attached, the Race Technology software receives these packets and tries to make sense of them causing erroneous error messages.
In general, desktop PCs are less problematic, however, all of the above problems can also occur on desktops as well as laptops. Older and high quality desktop PCs are unlikely to have problems. Normally, only the new low-cost motherboards cause problems.
The first step in trying to establish serial communications is making absolutely sure that you know which serial port is which. They should be labelled on the PC's case. If not, refer to the manufacturer's manual or website. If you are using a USB to serial port converter then the software drivers must be installed correctly. Generally, it is worth getting the latest drivers from the manufacturer's website. Once the USB to serial converter is installed, then go to the computer's hardware/driver manager and check to see that it is installed and the port number that it is installed as.
Please, remember that Race Technology Support is not a support line for problems relating to your PC. In particular, we cannot offer help in installing serial/USB converters, determining which serial port you should be using on your PC, or diagnosing why a particular serial port doesn't work on a particular PC. If you require assistance in these areas, please consult your computer's manual or contact the computer's manufacturer.