Frequently asked questions

This page contains answers to the following questions. If you cannot find the answer you're looking for, please post your question in the support forum.

My computer has no RS-232 port

Scale, RS-232 cable, converter to USB, computer

Use a USB converter (sometimes called adaptor) as pictured above (3rd item from the left). We recommend converters with an FTDI chip (please make sure to buy a genuine one). These converters belong to the USB CDC-ACM class. Once plugged in, a new USB serial port (virtual COM port) will appear on your system as shown in the Windows Device Manager below:
Windows 10 device manager

Specify this port in the input tab in 232key:
Settings tab: Port, device and serial connection parameters

How can I bind 232key to a certain COM port?

You can pass the name of the COM port which 232key should use as an argument (parameter) as shown below ("COM5"):
Passing a COM port name as an argument to 232key

Please make sure that this port exists before you try to use it (otherwise, 232key will show an error message when you press the Start button).

Can I use 232key with USB scales and balances?

This depends on which USB device class the scale implements. The most common class used by scales and balances is CDC (ACM): Communications Device Class (Abstract Control Model). These devices appear as virtual COM ports (virtual serial ports) when connected to a PC and can generally be used with 232key:
Windows 10 device manager
While these devices all show up under "Ports (COM & LPT)" in the device manager, the exact name can vary.

Other USB device classes such as USB HID are not compatible with 232key!

Please refer to your scale's data sheet or manual to find out which USB device class it implements. Some balances support multiple classes and can be configured. The photo below shows an A&D GX-A precision scale set to "USB COM" mode (virtual COM port, compatible with 232key):
GX-A precision scale connected to PC via USB

What does "advanced support for scales and balances from A&D" mean?

RS-232 cable disconnected

Thanks to A&D's clever use of the RS-232 handshaking lines, 232key can automatically detect the following errors and alert the user:

  • Scale is either not connected to the selected port or cable has been disconnected.
  • Scale is powered off or wrong type of cable is being used (null modem instead of straight cable).

These advanced error detection functions are only available when 232key is used with a scale or balance from A&D.

Does 232key support serial barcode readers?

There are currently three barcode profiles, "Barcode numeric" (0-9) and "Barcode alphanumeric" (characters A-Z and digits 0-9) and "Barcode alphanumeric extended" (all printable ASCII characters). If your barcodes include no characters outside this range, you should be able to use 232key as a virtual keyboard wedge.
Alphanumeric barcodes

Does 232key work with Moxa NPort serial device servers?

Yes. By default, your Moxa NPort should already be set to "Real COM" mode. This mode allows Windows PCs to treat NPort serial ports as local COM ports.

We recommend that you use NPort Windos Driver Manager (and not NPort Administrator) to set up the COM port on your PC:
NPort Windows Driver Manager

When configured correctly, the port should appear in the device manager and can be selected in 232key:
Windows Device Manage with NPort virtual COM Port

Does 232key work with terminal servers, RDP, Citrix, desktop virtualization, etc.?

The following conditions have to be fulfilled:

  • The server (host) meets the system requirements.
  • The client's COM port (i.e., the port the serial device is connected to) is forwarded to the server and accessible as a virtual COM port. If 232key can only connect to the COM ports on the host, but the serial device is connected to the client, it obviously won't work.

For Citrix, please see this page. Due to the number of different architectures and potential pitfalls, please understand that we cannot guarantee that 232key will work on your particular system. Please try 23key out for yourself and consider leaving feedback in our support forum for the benefit of other users.

Useful search terms for this topic are "COM port redirection" and "COM port mapping".

I want to learn more about serial communication and RS-232

Can 232key be used as a replacement for Windows SerialKeys, AAC Keys or other GIDEI software?

232key was not developed for use with AAC devices and does not try to implement the GIDEI standard. Whether or not 232key can be used depends on your device:

  • If your device only sends numbers (positive or negative, using a dot or comma as decimal separator) and the letters A-Z, there's a chance it can be used with 232key. These characters are the same in ASCII (used by 232key) and GIDEI.
  • If your device also tries to press keys outside this range (e.g. the enter key by sending "<27>ENTER.") or wants to emulate mouse movements, it cannot be used with 232key (free), 232key Plus or 232key MU. However, you may be able to use it with 232key Pro.
  • Some measuring devices and barcode readers have a special mode intended to be used with the SerialKeys option in Windows XP (sometimes called "WindowsDirect" or "Data Transfer" mode): If you disable this mode and then specify the correct interface parameters and terminator used by the standard communication mode of your device, you'll probably be able to use it with 232key.
SerialKeys was originally designed for people who have difficulty using the computer's standard keyboard or mouse. It was included from Windows 95 until Vista. AAC Keys was an alternative to SerialKeys. Some measuring device manufacturers used SerialKeys to send measurement results directly to a PC application (no additional keyboard wedge software was required).

Can I run multiple instances of 232key at the same time?

While you could run several instances at the same time, this is not recommended as they all use the same location to store their settings (the instance you close last will overwrite the settings saved by previously closed instances). You can, however install 232key MU in addition to the free/Plus edition of 232key to connect to two serial devices at the same time.

Can 232key run as a service?

No, because Windows services run in a separate session and generally do not interact directly with the user's desktop session (e.g. to send keystrokes). However, with a Plus license, you can use the auto-start function and minimize 232key to the notification area to run it as a background process.

If you want to run 232key as a service because you want to hide it from your end users, please also see the following question and make sure that your intended use of 232key complies with our EULA.

Where can I find the 64 bit version of 232key?

There is none. The 32 bit version works on 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems.

How do I fix problems with high DPI displays?

If you experience problems with controls that are too small to be usable on high DPI displays, please follow these steps:

  1. Start 232key.
  2. Right-click on the program icon in the taskbar.
  3. Right-click on 232key and select Properties:
    Right-click on icon in taskbar
You can also open the 232key.exe file location (usually "C:\Program Files (x86)\232key") and right-click on the application, then select Properties.
  1. Click on the Compatibility tab.
  2. Click on Change high DPI settings:
    Change high DPI settings
  3. Check Override high DPI scaling behavior and select Scaling performed by System:
    High DPI scaling override
  4. Confirm by clicking on OK twice.
  5. Restart 232key if necessary.

How can I add a new device profile?

New device profiles can currently only be added by us (however, you can customize the regular expressions used by existing devices). Please contact us and provide us with the following:

  • Device name and manufacturer.
  • Default connection parameters: bit/s, data bits, stop bits, parity.
  • Terminator (last character in each line of data).
  • An example of the data transmitted (in ASCII and hexadecimal or decimal form).
  • Optional (if the device accepts commands): the command used to trigger the device to send data (this is currently not supported by 232key).
  • If known: Do other devices by the same manufacturer use the same default connection parameters and data format?

Note: We'll try our best, but we cannot guarantee that submissions will be included.

How do I restore the default settings of the software?

Free version of 232key

The settings are stored in the Windows registry. Please be careful when making modifications to the registry (it's always a good idea to create a system restore point or registry backup first).

  • Make sure that 232key is not running (this is important).
  • Start the registry editor (e.g. by pressing the Windows key, then typing "regedit").
  • Navigate to Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\JavaSoft\Prefs\com\smartlux\232key and delete the entire 232key key:
    Windows Registry: Deleting 232key key

Next time you start 232key, the default settings will be restored.

232key Plus version

You can either follow the same procedure as for the free version or use a configuration file (this will preserve your license information):

  • Download this file (232key.xml).
  • Click on Import configuration in the Settings tab and select the file you've just downloaded.
  • 232key will apply the default settings and exit (you have to restart it manually).

232key MU

You can either use the configuration file as described above for 232key Plus or do the following (this will also delete your license information, so make sure that you still have your license key):

  • Make sure 232key MU is not running.
  • Go to the %ProgramData%\Smartlux\232keyMU directory.
  • Delete the prefs.txt file.

Am I allowed to distribute 232key?

You are not allowed to redistribute the binary files. Due to the licensing conditions of a third-party library and the programming tools used to make 232key, there's nothing we can do about this. 232key is meant to be downloaded and installed by end users on general purpose desktop computers. Please see our EULA for details.

You may, however, resell license keys and send your customers to the download link to our software. Please consult our reseller page for further information.

Where can I download the source code?

Nowhere, 232key is not open source software. The free version is free as in beer, not as in speech.