Technical Articles

Can USB read RS232?

In the world of computer communication protocols, two widely used standards are Controller Area Network (CAN) and RS232. CAN utilizes a bus-based network architecture, while RS232 is a serial communication standard. In this technical article, we will explore whether it is possible to use a USB interface to read data transmitted using the RS232 protocol.

Understanding CAN and RS232

CAN is commonly used in automotive and industrial applications due to its ability to withstand noise and efficiently transmit data between devices. It allows multiple devices to be connected to a single bus and communicate with each other by sending and receiving messages. On the other hand, RS232 is a more traditional serial communication standard typically utilized for data transfer between a computer and peripheral devices like modems and printers.

Using USB to Read RS232 Data

While USB and RS232 are fundamentally different communication standards, it is indeed possible to bridge the gap between them. USB-to-RS232 converters are readily available and facilitate communication between devices that utilize these two protocols. These converters effectively convert the RS232 signals into USB signals, allowing computers or other USB-enabled devices to read data transmitted using the RS232 protocol.

To connect an RS232 device to a computer via USB, one would need to acquire a USB-to-RS232 converter. Once connected, the computer's operating system typically treats the RS232 port as a virtual COM port. This means that software applications can interact with the RS232 device using serial communication libraries or APIs, similar to how they would work with a physical RS232 port on the computer.


In conclusion, while CAN and RS232 are distinct communication protocols, it is indeed possible to use a USB interface to read data transmitted using the RS232 protocol. USB-to-RS232 converters facilitate this bridging of protocols, enabling computers and other USB-enabled devices to communicate with RS232 devices. This capability is particularly useful when dealing with legacy systems that still rely on the RS232 standard for data transmission.


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