WiRES-X and USB Problems

If you’re having problems with USB problems when using WiRES-X with or without other programs, read on.

The WiRES-X software is pretty good at identifying the HRI-200 vs. connecting directly to the radio. Windows, however, is very bad at managing USB ports. The WiRES-X software makes two USB connections: One as a virtual COM port and the other as a sound device. Windows is also very bad at managing sound devices.

Virtual COM ports can be identified by the port number (a real pain as it is always changing – see below) or by identifying the hardware via the manufacturer and product number that is burned into the USB device. Generally software that does not provide an option to specify the COM port (as with the HRI-200) is using the hardware identification to establish the association.

When Windows sees a USB device it will enumerate it and create a driver for it. If you move it to another port it will, for reasons we can only guess at, create another driver. It will keep making new drivers as long as you have USB ports and USB devices left. Why, we can only guess. Periodically it may be necessary to go through a clean out all of these “drivers” that Windows keeps making and saving until the end of time. You can do this from the command line or from within Device Manager.

I have found WiRES-X to play nicely with other devices. For example I have no problem running hotspots, Ham Operator Deluxe, WSJT-X, etc. on the same computer that is running WiRES-X.

You may find it beneficial to use a USB 2.0 vs. 3.0 port. Why? USB limits the number of connections that can made per USB controller. Keep in mind that several of the ports on you computer may use the same controller. Also, each USB device may use more than one connection. As I recall sound devices generally use two connections: One for the audio and one for control. A USB 2.0 controller supports 255 connections. How do I know? I actually ran up against this limit using a couple of 16 port USB hubs. USB 3.0, while faster, does not permit as many connections. I don’t remember the exact number as it has been some time, but the number SIX sticks in my brain. As you might imagine, it is very easy to burn up six connections. Also keep in mind that the USB controller may be servicing hardware that is internal to the computer. It all depends on how the computer was designed. Top end computers will generally have a higher controller to port ratio. Bottom line: you may want to use USB 2.0 if you have been using USB 3.0.

Perhaps try something like this:
1. Blow away the WiRES-X and any conflicting software. Make sure everything is unplugged from USB.
2. Blow away all of the USB drivers. Just uninstall them. Don’t worry, the files to recompile a driver are still on the computer. [Device Manager with admin. Enable option to view all devices. Delete drivers under COM ports. Delete drivers under sound devices (except for hardware built into your computer.)]
3. Install the WiRES-X software. Allow it to associate with the USB devices it needs by plugging in the HRI-200, etc. If you’re not using an HRI-200, you may find it beneficial to use an external USB audio device for WiRES-X. If you can use USB 2.0 ports.
4. With WiRES-X happy running, install the other software. Plug in the necessary USB devices so it can similarly make the association. At this point everybody should be happy with both programs running just fine.
5. Write down which device was plugged into which USB port. In the future, always use the same USB port for the devices. We don’t want Windows creating more drivers.

Good luck solving the USB problems!