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Transforms data received via RS-232 (COM port) into keystrokes

Troubleshooting 232key and RS-232 connections

RS-232 connections can be notoriously difficult and frustrating to troubleshoot. Please follow the instructions below systematically.

Please note: The following screenshots show 232key version 1.30 to 2016.2. Some tabs have been renamed, but the event log still looks the same.

Please click on the description that best applies to your problem:

  1. 232key does not work as expected
    1. No data received
    2. "Error [WW]: java.lang.NumberFormatException"*
    3. "Cannot type: .." error*
    4. "Unsent data" message
    5. Framing or parity errors
    6. Data received, but 232key extracts the wrong part
    7. Data received, but 232key extracts too many parts
    8. Data received, but 232key extracts nothing
    9. Data received and extracted correctly, but 232key does not type anything
    10. Several lines of data per second
  2. 232key does not start
  3. 232key shows an error message in a dialog box

1. 232key does not work as expected

The first thing you should do is to press stop in the start/stop tab and then switch to the event log. The event log is a very useful troubleshooting tool. In the example below, you can see that 232key has received a total of 10 lines of data from the connected device. Two lines contained measurement values which were extracted and typed by 232key ("70.8" and "102.1", shown in italics and blue). Non-printable ASCII control characters are shown in pointy brackets ("<13><10>" = carriage return and line feed).
RS-232 software event log

Depending on what you see in your event log, please refer to the appropriate section below.

  1. No data received
  2. "Error [WW]: java.lang.NumberFormatException"*
  3. "Cannot type: .." error*
  4. "Unsent data" message
  5. Framing or parity errors
  6. Data received, but 232key extracts the wrong part
  7. Data received, but 232key extracts too many parts
  8. Data received, but 232key extracts nothing
  9. Data received and extracted correctly, but 232key does not type anything
  10. Several lines of data per second

*Applies only to Plus version.

a. No data received

This is by far the most common issue. If the event log only contains 232key's status messages as shown below, this means that no data has been received from your device:
Event log: no data received

Unfortunately, there are many possible causes for this problem. The following picture shows the elements typically involved in a successful data transfer via RS-232. Please check them one by one:
Elements involved in RS-232 data transfer

RS-232 device (e.g. balance, scale, barcode reader, etc.): Consult the manual that came with your device and check the actual settings to verify that:

  1. Data transmission is enabled.
  2. All interface parameters (bits/s aka. baud rate, data bits, stop bits and parity) match the settings in the input tab in 232key.
  3. Data transmission is set to the correct mode. You want data to be transferred upon pressing a button on the device (sometimes called "key mode") or automatically at the end of a measurement or reading ("auto mode"). Modes which you do not want might be called "stream" or "continuous mode" where data is sent continuously several times per second, "interval mode" where data is sent automatically in certain intervals or "command mode" where data has to be requested by the software.

    Example:
    • Adam Equipment CPWplus: Set the scale to "trn 3" (default setting is "trn 1", RS-232 port deactivated). Confirm that all other settings match the default values in 232key.
  4. Data content is set correctly. On some devices, you can chose which data should be sent, e.g. on some scales, you can send the net and gross weight as well as the date and time. Generally, 232key automatically extracts the first number it encounters in the data sent by the device, so you should make sure the value you want is sent as the first (or only) value.

    Example:
    • Ohaus Scout STX precision portable balance: Select "numeric value only" to make sure the balance only sends the weight.

To make sure that your device is working correctly, you could also try observing the RS-232 output signals with a converter equipped with Tx/Rx LEDs, an RS-232 interface tester, a voltmeter or an oscilloscope. A surprisingly common problem we've encountered with inexpensive scales were faulty, counterfeit MAX232 ICs which resulted in data transfer failures at the signal level.

RS-232 cable: Make sure the connectors are fully plugged in (sounds stupid, but this is a common mistake). Also verify that you have the right kind of cable for your device. Unfortunately, even cables which look completely identical on the outside can be wired differently. If you're using a crossed ("null modem") cable where a straight 1:1 cable is required (or vice-versa), the connection won't work.

RS-232 to USB converter (if used): Make sure the driver is up to date. Try unplugging and plugging the converter into the same USB port. If this doesn't help, try unplugging and plugging it into another USB port (it might now show up as a new COM port on your system, don't forget to specify this port in the input tab). If your converter is connected to a hub, try connect it directly to a port on your PC. Finally, consider getting a new converter.

232key: Verify that you have selected the right COM port as well as device and interface parameters in the input tab. Try selecting the "generic" device. If you suspect that a bug in 232key is causing the problem, try using a terminal program like hterm to communicate with your device before submitting a bug report or contacting us for help. If the terminal program doesn't receive any data either, the issue is not caused by 232key but by one of the other points listed above.

Please understand that we cannot remotely diagnose this kind of "no data received" issue for you and that it usually has nothing to do with our software! It is a general communication problem between your device and your computer.

b. "Error [WW]: java.lang.NumberFormatException"

Error: NumberFormatException

This error appears in the Plus version if:

  1. The device you've selected in the input tab expects numeric values only (this is the case for all devices except for "Barcode alphanumeric" and "Barcode alphanumeric extended").
  2. You've modified the regular expression to match non-numeric characters.
  3. You did not remove these characters by entering them in the remove field in the process tab.
What happened then is that 232key tried to convert the captured non-numeric data into a number, which produced the error.
Solutions:
  • If you want 232key to type a number, you have to remove the matched non-numeric characters in the process tab (in the pictured example, you'd enter "/" in the remove field).
  • If you want 232key to type all characters as captured, change the device in the input tab to "Barcode alphanumeric" or "Barcode alphanumeric extended".

c. "Cannot type: .." error

Cannot type error

This message means that 232key has captured a character which it cannot (currently) type. The "Barcode alphanumeric" device can type characters A-Z (case sensitive) and 0-9, while the "Barcode alphanumeric extended" device can also type a-z and several other characters (see entry under "additional devices" here for a complete list). If a character outside this range has been captured, this error message is logged and the character is ignored.

We're constantly working on adding further characters to the "Barcode alphanumeric extended" device. Due to the low-level nature of our keyboard simulation and the many keyboard layouts in use around the world, this can be surprisingly complicated.

d. "Unsent data" message

If you find an "unsent data" message in the event log (after having pressed stop in the start/stop tab), this means that 232key has received data from your device, but has not found the terminator you specified in the input tab. This can have two possible causes:

1. Wrong terminator

The terminator is the very last character in each line of data sent from the device. In the example below, the terminator should be "<10> LF", but was specified as "<13> CR" (in this example, this didn't prevent 232key from extracting the measurement value):

Unsent data - incorrect terminator

Please specify the correct terminator in the input tab. You can enter any decimal ASCII code. See our documentation for further information.

2. Wrong connection parameters

If the "unsent data" message is followed by unexpected characters and numbers in square brackets (non-printable characters), your connection parameters are wrong. The most likely culprits are the bits/s and data bits settings in the input tab. Please refer to the manual that came with your device to find the correct settings.

e. Framing or parity errors

Parity errors in event log

These errors appear if the data received by 232key does not match the expected format at byte level. If you see a long list of these errors, your connection parameters in the input tab are most likely wrong. Please refer to the manual that came with your device to find the correct settings.

If these errors only appear sporadically, this could mean that your data has been corrupted.

f. Data received, but 232key extracts the wrong part

1. Wrong numeric value extracted

If your device transmits multiple values in one line (e.g. time/date and a measurement value), only the first one will be extracted by 232key. This value might not be the one you're interested in. Here's an example of a complicated data sequence where 232key extracts the first number ("0,16") instead of the desired measurement value ("105"):
Event log: Wrong value extracted

Solutions:
  1. Try configuring your device to send only the value you need.
  2. Create a custom regular expression to capture only the data you want (requires a Plus license).
  3. Contact us so that we can analyze the data and build a special device profile. Please send us the content of the event log tab and the name of your device and manufacturer. Here's the event log for the example above after we included a "Tanita TL-280/TL-290" profile for our user, showing that the desired value ("105") is now being captured:
    Event log: Correct value extracted with new profile

2. Letters not extracted

Currently, only the "barcode alphanumeric" and "barcode alphanumeric extended" profiles supports letters. Please make sure one of these devices is selected in the input tab.

g. Data received, but 232key extracts too many parts

If your device transmits several lines of data at once, 232key will process all of them and possibly extract some values you're not interested in. The following example shows the output of an Ohaus STX scale in its default configuration:
Event log: too many values extracted

As you can see, 232key extracts part of the date, the balance ID, part of the model no. and finally the weight. Fortunately, this scale has a "numeric value only" setting which works fine with the standard "Ohaus" device profile in 232key. If your device cannot be reconfigured, please send us the content of the event log and the name of your device and manufacturer so that we can include a special device profile in the next version of 232key.

h. Data received, but 232key extracts nothing

You can see that data has been received from your device, but nothing is shown in blue and italics (i.e. no data has been extracted and typed by 232key)?

  • Please make sure that you've selected the right device profile in the input tab: The "general" device profile is meant to be used with measurement instruments and only supports numeric values. The "barcode alphanumeric" device profile currently supports characters A-Z (case sensitive) and digits 0-9.
  • If you only see a lot of values in pointy brackets, please ensure that you device is sending data in ASCII format (currently, 232key does not support other formats like Modbus RTU).

i. Data received and extracted, but 232key does not type anything

The event log looks fine, i.e. you can see that data was received from the connected device and that 232key extracted the desired value (shown in blue), but nothing is typed into your application?

  • Please try using another target application (like notepad) to see if the problem persists. Some applications may capture keyboard input and prevent 232key from working correctly.

j. Several lines of data per second

If you see several lines per second in the event log, your device is set to send data continuously:
Event log: continuous data

Consult its manual to switch to a mode where data is only sent when a key on the device is pressed (or data is sent automatically, but only once).

Note: Some devices may only have a "continuous" mode and unfortunately can't be used with 232key at this time.

2. 232key does not start

Please make sure you're using an operating system supported by 232key. If that's the case, try disabling your virus scanner (should this solve the problem, please let us know which virus scanner you're using).

3. Error messages

No port found

No RS-232 port found

232key needs a (virtual) serial port to communicate with your device. Make sure the port shows up in the device manager on your system. If you're using a RS-232/USB converter, check that it is plugged in correctly.

Port is in use

Error: Port in use

Your port is being used by another application. Check that you've selected the right port in the input tab and that no other programs are using this port.

Port not valid

Error: Port not valid

The port you selected in the input tab is not valid. This could happen if you disconnect a RS-232/USB converter while 232key is running.

Scale not connected to this port (A&D devices only)

A&D scale not connected error

232key shows this message if it can't detect an A&D device at the specified port. Please make sure that you've chosen the right port in the input tab and that the cable is connected to your device and computer.

If you receive this error message, but your A&D device is working properly as the program continues, please tell us which A&D scale or balance you're using.

Scale connected, but switched off (A&D devices only)

Error: A&D scale switched off

232key has detected an A&D device at the specified port, but this device does not respond as expected. It could be switched off or you might be using the wrong type of cable. A&D scales and balances usually require a straight cable and will not work with a crossed (null modem) cable.

Note concerning A&D balances with power safe mode: Power safe mode is currently not detected by 232key, this message will only appear if your balance is unplugged.

If you receive this error message, but your A&D device is working properly as the program continues, please tell us which A&D scale or balance you're using. 

Error while loading settings

Invalid setting or expired license

All settings you make in 232key are saved and loaded automatically. If one or more of these saved settings are not valid, the error message above is displayed and the program uses the default setting. This can also mean that a trial license you used has expired.

Access error while loading settings

Access to the registry was denied. The program cannot load the settings your settings.

Please ensure that access to the registry (232key) or ProgramData folder (232key MU) is not blocked by a virus scanner or similar application.

Access error while saving settings

Your settings are automatically saved when 232key is closed. If access to the registry (232key) or ProgramData folder (232key MU) is denied, you'll see this error message.

Please ensure that access to the registry is not blocked by a virus scanner or similar application.

Invalid license key

Invalid setting or expired license

All license keys purchased from our partner FastSpring are generated automatically and are guaranteed to be valid. There are only two reasons why you might see this message:

  1. You're using an outdated version of 232key (this is the most likely reason and applies to more than 95% of all support requests concerning this error). Please switch to the About tab and confirm that your version number starts with 2017:
    232key version
    Older versions don't accept newer license keys. Please update your software by downloading and running the installer for 232key Plus or 232key MU (depending on which license you've purchased).
  2. You've not copied and pasted the complete license key or your email client has problems displaying it correctly (this can happen in rare cases when FastSpring's original email with the license key has been forwarded to you in HTML format). Please copy the entire key from the email you've received from FastSpring. If the error persist, please contact us and we'll resend you your license key as a text file. However, first make sure you're not using an outdated version of 232key as mentioned above!

Download 232keyDownload 232key

Click here to download 232key 2017.1 for Windows.

Alternative download location.

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232key Plus license

The basic functionality of 232key is available for free. If you want to use the Plus features, please click here to buy a license for $29 or 27€ (plus EU VAT or sales tax, where applicable). Your license key and invoice will be generated immediately as soon as your payment is completed.

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