Modern computers and laptops are vastly superior to those manufactured in the past. Every new model offers faster performance or more storage capacity to address the user’s computing requirements. In most cases, a new computer will serve you better than an older machine.
One area where a recently purchased computer is lacking, however, is in the number or availability of serial ports. Many manufacturers have eliminated COM ports totally in favor of the more popular USB interface. This can pose a problem for developers or system administrators who need to interact with serial devices and applications
Even if there is a COM port on your machine there may be times when you need to access several serial devices simultaneously. What can you do?
We are going to show you six methods of adding COM ports to a computer that does not have any or needs more for a specific purpose. One is a software solution and the others involve the addition of hardware to accomplish the goal.
Adding COM Ports to Your System
Here are six options for adding serial interfaces to your Windows system:
We believe the most effective and efficient method of adding COM ports is through the use of special software. Creating virtual serial ports is a more flexible solution and eliminates the need for additional hardware or cabling.
Virtual Serial Port Driver (VSPD) from Eltima Software is an excellent choice when you need to add COM interfaces to a Windows computer. It fully supports Windows 10 as well as previous versions of the OS.
Download VSPD to add an unlimited number of COM ports
VSPD is a reliable and convenient solution to the problem of adding serial ports to your Windows computer. There is no extra equipment involved and it does not require you to use another of your system’s hardware interfaces.
If your system has a free USB port, you can use it to convert between USB and serial signals.
The USB to serial adapter is a small piece of equipment that has a USB connector at one end and at least one, and perhaps multiple, serial connectors on the other end.
Belkin USB to COM port converter
Now you can interact with the serial device despite not having a physical COM port on your computer. This method requires that your computer has a free USB port.
You can obtain an Ethernet to COM converter, also called a device server, that enables you to convert serial signals. The signals are sent over the network and your computer interacts with the devices through a virtual COM port.
Ethernet to Serial device server with 4 RS-232/422/485
Using an Ethernet to COM converter entails these steps:
Taking advantage of your computer’s WiFi capabilities is another way to add a COM port to your system. The concept is similar to the Ethernet converter except it uses your wireless network. Serial WiFi adapter allows connecting a COM port (RS232) device to secure or open wireless network or access point.
Serial WiFi Adapter - RS232
Perhaps you have an open COM port on your computer but need multiple interfaces for a specific purpose. You may also have a port that does not support the communication protocol of the device you intend to use. Both of these issues can be solved with the addition of some hardware and cables.
In the case of requiring more COM ports when you have one open on your machine, a Serial Port Hub is the solution. The hub will have one connector that attaches to the free serial port on your computer and several COM ports available to be used by devices. The devices essentially share your computer’s single port.
DTECH Industrial 8 Port RS232 Serial Splitter Switch
Converting between serial protocols such as RS232 to RS485 is also possible with a hardware converter. One end plugs into your machine’s COM port and the other connects to the serial device.
If your computer has expansion slots, they can be used to provide serial ports to the machine. Multiport serial card installs in slots in a PC on the ISA or PCI buses.
Many different serial expansion serial boards are available which provide multiple COM ports. They can support any of the serial communication protocols, and add functionality to your computer. Quite often, you may encounter a problem with a lack of free space for serial port connectors on the external-facing part of the card. To solve this problem, you just need to have a cable with connectors on both ends.
4 Port RS232 PCI Express Serial Card w/ Breakout Cable
Make sure that the card you obtain is for the type of expansion slot in which you plan to employ it.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways in which you can add CM ports to your computer. Many of them require you to use additional hardware and cables. You may also be faced with the prospect of swapping devices in and out of your converters.
The more elegant solution is to use Virtual Serial Port Driver to create as many virtual serial ports as you need. It is a versatile serial communication application that enables any computer to interact with serial devices.