Supported operating systems and installation

Supported operating systems: Microsoft Windows 10, 8.x, 7, Vista SP2, Server 2012, Server 2008. Embedded versions of Windows are not supported. To install 232key, simply download the installer, run it and follow the instructions on your screen.

Basic setup and use of 232key

Before starting 232key, please make sure that your serial device is switched on and connected to your PC!

Choose COM port, device, interface parameters and terminator

COM port

Go to the input tab and choose the serial port (COM port) your device is connected to:

Input tab: Port, device and serial connection parameters

You can also try to let 232key detect the port automatically by switching off all other serial devices and pressing the auto button (only works with devices which support hardware handshaking):

Auto COM port detection

Device

232key supports two basic types of devices. It is important that you choose the right type:

  1. Numeric devices: Measuring instruments and other devices sending a number: Select this type if your goal is to capture a measurement value from your device (e.g. the weight from a scale). Almost all devices in the list belong to this type.
  2. Text devices: Select this type if you want to capture a text string in its entirety (e.g. a barcode). Text devices appear in italics in the device list. Currently, the name of all devices of this type starts with " Barcode".

If your device is present in the drop-down list, select it and press ⇓ set defaults ⇓ to set the default interface parameters and terminator. If it is not present, select "Generic measuring instrument" to capture numbers or one of the "Barcode" devices to capture text, then proceed to the next step.

Currently, default settings for the following serial devices are predefined in 232key:

* supports automatic port detection.
** untested.

*** requires a Plus license.

Known incompatible devices:

  • Jadever SNUG II-150 precision balance (can only send data continuously).

Interface parameters and terminator

If your device is not included in the device list or if you're not using its default settings, you have to manually set the interface parameters (bits/s, data bits, stop bits, parity) and the terminator character which marks the end of each line of data.

Please consult the instruction manual of your serial device to find the appropriate settings. If the number of stop bits is not specified, select "1".

The terminator is the very last character in each line of data sent by your device. You can select one of the pre-defined values or enter any ASCII code as a decimal value.

Terminator example from a user manual

MT data format

The very last character is "line feed" (ASCII code 10), therefore choose "<10> LF" as the terminator in 232key.

If you have trouble finding the terminator, we recommend using a terminal program like HTterm to analyze the data sent from you device. In the example below, you can see that the very last character is again "line feed" (decimal ASCII code 10):
HTerm partial screenshot

We'd appreciate if you could post the name of your device and your settings in our support forum so that we can add a new device profile to 232key. Thank you!

Specify output format

Switch to the output tab. Please select the keyboard type you're using (this is particularly important if you want to transmit alphanumeric characters or If you're using a French AZERTY keyboard):
Support for AZERTY keyboards

If your keyboard layout is not listed, you can choose the "All (compatibility mode)" setting (available since version 2017.1.2.0). 232key will then use the Alt numpad input method:

Alt numpad input method

Next, select the decimal separator you want 232key to use when typing decimal numbers: "dot" (e.g. 10.00) or "comma" (e.g. 10,00):
Decimal separator

  • This only concerns 232key's simulated keystrokes. The decimal separator of the numbers sent from your device is automatically recognized.
  • This setting is only available for "number" devices (and disabled for " text" devices).

Under end with, you can instruct 232key to send an additional keystroke after each value (e.g. the "Enter" key to jump to the next row in a spreadsheet):
Output format of data received via RS-232

As you can see from the disabled settings in the screenshots, many additional features are available in the Plus version of 232key.

Start 232key and transmit data

Start RS-232 software

Press the start button and switch to the target program (e.g. a spreadsheet software). Place the cursor where you want the data to be typed. Press the data transmission button on your device (often labeled "data" or "print") and watch as the value is typed into the target program.

Please consult our extensive troubleshooting page if 232key does not work as expected.

Advanced 232key Plus functionality

Custom Regular Expressions

Added in version 2016.2

Generally, 232key will capture the first number it encounters (or the first alphanumeric sequence of characters if you've selected a "barcode" device). This works for many devices, but not always: Some devices might send another number ahead of the measurement value, e.g. a model number. Until the release of version 2016.2, the only thing you could do in this situation was to contact us and ask us to add a new custom device profile to 232key. Now, you can simply click on Customize.. and edit the regular expression used to match and capture the data yourself:

Example: Selecting "Barcode alphanumeric" and clicking on Customize... lets you edit the regular expression used to capture and match alphanumeric data:
Regular Expression

  • You must include an unnamed capture group in your expression (in parentheses). 232key will try to match the entire expression, but will only capture the data within the first capture group.
  • Please select an appropriate device as your starting point: Most devices are meant to work with numerical values! Only the " Barcode alphanumeric" and "Barcode alphanumeric extended" devices can actually type a limited set of non-numerical characters.
  • 232key uses the Java pattern syntax.

Remove or keep first/last X characters (edit)

Added in version 1.60

If the data captured from your device contains a fixed number of unwanted characters at the beginning or end, you can remove them by using the edit function. You can either specify the number of characters you want to remove or the number of characters you want to keep. If no value is entered, the edit function is disabled.

Example: Remove first 2 characters:
Remove first 2 characters

This function works only on the captured characters (highlighted in blue in the event log tab), not on the entire line of characters sent form your device. To change which characters are captured, modify the regular expression.

Remove characters

Added in version 2016.2

All instances of the characters you enter here will be removed from the captured data. This is very useful for class I and class II balances with an auxiliary indicating device (differentiated digits).

Example: Your device sends "123.4/5" and you've configured a custom regular expression to capture this data. Enter "/" in the Remove field to remove the slash (and continue with the value 123.45):
Remove character(s)
When entering multiple characters, each single character will be removed.

Ignore consecutive duplicates

Added in version 2016.2.3

Select this checkbox if you want 232key to automatically ignore consecutive duplicates, i.e. the same data captured multiple times in a row:

Ignore consecutive duplicates

This can be very useful to prevent user mistakes like scanned a barcode twice.

Clicking on the adjust button opens a dialog with two additional settings:

Adjust ignore consecutive duplicates function

Time limit

This setting restricts the ignore function: If you enter a value (in milliseconds), the ignore function will check how much time has passed since the last data was captured. If the time limit is exceeded, the newly received data is always typed (even if it is a duplicate). In the example above, data received more than 2000 ms (2 seconds) after the last data was captured will always be typed.

Tolerance

This setting expands the ignore function. If you enter a positive number (r), 232key uses a numeric comparison and ignores all captured values which fall within the tolerance range:
xprev - r ≤ xcurr ≤ xprev + r.

  • x prev: Previous captured value.
  • x prev: Current captured value (becomes new x prev for next comparison, even if it is ignored and therefore not typed).
  • r: Positive value entered in the tolerance ± field (0.05 in the example shown above).
The tolerance function was originally designed to be used with the "auto-print" functionality of some scales which do not require the weight to return to zero before automatically sending it again. When using these scales, you may encounter the problem that the weight fluctuates between two values and is transmitted every time this happens (even though the same object is still being weighed). By setting the tolerance to one display division, these unwanted values will be ignored by 232key. We recommend also setting a time limit so that you can still weigh two objects in a row which happen to have the same weight.
The tolerance function was not designed to be used with devices which send data continuously!
The tolerance setting is not available if you've selected a text device in the input tab (e.g. "Barcode numeric (0-9)"). If disabled or left empty, 232key only ignores identical values (using a string comparison).

Mathematical operations (compute)

Added in version 1.08

You can apply mathematical operations to values captured by 232key before they are typed into another program. This can be useful for unit conversions.

Multiplication

Select "Multiply" and enter the factor (e.g. 1000 to multiply all measurement values by 1000):

Multiplication in 232key

Factors do not have to be integers.

Division

Select "Divide" and enter the divisor (e.g. "1000" to divide all values by 1000):

Division in 232key

Divisors do not have to be integers. Rounding options have to be specified for division (see below).

Mathematical operations are not available if you've selected a text device in the input tab (e.g. "Barcode numeric (0-9)").

Rounding

Rounding allows you to change the number of decimal places of the values which 232key types into your target application. Enter the number of decimal places in the field (0 to 7), leave empty to disable rounding.

Example: Your scale sends a weight of "12.599 kg" (3 decimal places). If you've entered "2" in the rounding field, 232key's output will be "12.60" (using the default "half-up" rounding mode):
Rounding
  • If the original values have fewer decimal places than the number you entered, they'll not be padded (since version 1.08). This also means that integers will not be padded.
  • Rounding is disabled if you've selected a " text" device in the input tab (e.g. "Barcode numeric (0-9)").

Rounding modes

As of version 1.06, 232key supports different rounding modes. Usually, you'll want to use "half-up" rounding (commonly taught in school, default mode in 232key) or "half-even" rounding (aka unbiased rounding, statistician's rounding). Please click on the names to see a detailed explanation with examples:

Inter-character delay

Added in version 1.10

Affects the simulated keyboard output and lets you change the default delay of 20 milliseconds between characters to a value from 0 (no delay) to 1000 ms. A value of 5ms will work on most systems, though you may have to increase it if your target application cannot handle the speed at which 232key simulates keystrokes):
Inter-character delay

"Start with" key

Added in version 1.07

Allows you to specify a key to be pressed ahead of the data. As of version 2016.2, you can select one of the following keys:

  • Enter
  • TAB
  • Right arrow
  • Down arrow
  • Delete
  • *
  • F1-F12

Start with: key to be sent before data

Alternate "end with" key

Added in version 2017.1.3

Enables 232key to alternate between pressing two different keys after typing the value. The input field allows you to specify when the alternate second key should be pressed (every x values with 2 ≤ x ≤ 99):

Example: Your device sends three values in separate lines (which are all captured by 232key). You want them to be typed in three rows:
3 columns in Excel

To do so, end with "TAB" and alternate with "Enter" every "3" values:
Alternate keys to be pressed after typing the value

Your device has to send each value in a separate line as shown in the event log below. 232key does currently not support capturing multiple values from a single line.
Event log with three different values in consecutive lines (captured separately)

Sound

In the output tab, you can select a confirmation sound for 232key to play each time a new value has been received and is being typed:
Sound

This feature is particularly useful if the serial device you're using doesn't make any sound itself when transferring data (or a device which always makes a sound as soon as the "data" key is pressed, even when no data is actually sent).

Auto-start

Instead of pressing the start button in the start/stop tab, 232key Plus allows you to select the auto-start option in the settings tab. 232key will then automatically connect to your device and start the keyboard simulation when you run the program.
Start connection and virtual keyboard wedge automatically

You can also instruct 232key to abort auto-start if the previously used port is not longer available, minimize to the notification area (often called "system tray"), display a notification after being minimized (see image below) and to skip the update check by checking or unchecking the corresponding boxes.

Minimized to notification area

  • These settings will come into effect the next time you run 232key (restart required).
  • If you want 232key to run automatically when Windows starts, you'll have to place a shortcut in the "startup" folder. See this article for further information.

Import / export configuration

Added in version 1.62

All settings made in 232key can be exported to or imported from a file:
Import / export configuration

  • The license key is not exported and cannot be imported.
  • The program has to be restarted after importing the configuration.