outdoors hunting camping SHTF GMRS radio communications antenna battery electronics scanners digital computer software hardware laptop iPad iPhone eBay music radio
.

 
Build your Own Programming Cable
for BaoFeng, Kenwood, Wouxun, AnyTone
 
by John 'Miklor'
 
Frustrated with that generic programming cable?
This $2 solution might just be your ticket to sanity.
Let's See...

You purchased a radio and programming cable, loaded the software, and that's as far as you've gotten.  You're fighting with error messages:
- Radio did not respond
- Could not open COM port
- Run Time Error
and Windows (TM) 10 keeps changing your drivers.

Now you do what many owners do. Put the radio in the drawer to be worked on later.  This is like buying a rollaway treadmill and putting it in the closet until the next time you want to exercise.  (NOT gonna happen)

But wait, yours has the company name and logo right on the cable.
- It doesn't matter. Keep reading.

There are a few options available, such as an  FTDI  cable.  It's truly Plug 'n Play, and costs about $20.

But here's a project that just might solve the issue for around $2. All you need is a small flat blade screwdriver, a soldering pencil, and a CP2102 board.
 
 
 
CP2102

The CP2102 is a USB to TTL UART chip.   What?
Long story short...  It's the same thing that's in your current cable now, except these work.

CP2102 boards can be found on  eBay  for around $2 and on Amazon.
 
 
 
Here's How

Let's start with that original cable.

 

Take a small screw driver and carefully pry the case open from the back where the cable enters. Once the back is opened, pry the case open evenly around the sides.

 

It should only be snapped together.



Unsolder the 3 wires connected to the board.
GND is Black, TX is Red, RX is White

 

Solder the 3 wires to the corresponding terminals on the new board.
 
Note 1:   (Labels Reversed)
Some boards may have the TxD and RxD labeled in reverse. If it doesn't work the first time, reverse the two wires. No damage has been done.

Note 2:   (Connection Pins)
Most boards have pins on the back requiring small connectors. You can either remove the pins or solder to them. Whatever floats your boat. I personally prefer removing the pins and soldering directly to the board.

 
 
Retrofit

You will more than likely want to insert the new board inside the original plastic housing.  Using the board shown above, it may require a Dremel tool, X-Acto knife, Glue, and some patience, but it can be done. 

I very highly recommend using the 5 pin CP2102 board shown below. It still has the needed GND, TxD and RxD, but is a bit shorter and fits with no issue. It may cost a few pennies more, but well worth it.
 
Some come protected with a piece of clear heat shrink over the board so you can see the cool blinking lights. This plastic can easily be removed.


Amazon     eBay
 

For a dollar or so more, you can find the same boards in a metal case.




Inside the metal housing.    Look familiar?
 
 
Driver

When you insert the new board into the USB port, give Windows a chance to find and load the new driver. This should take about 30 seconds. When it says Driver Found, you're done.

If the driver is labeled CH340 instead of CP210x in Device Manager, that's not a problem. Both chips are designed to do the same thing.
 
If Windows is setup to block automatic updates, SiLabs drivers can be found at SiLabs or CNET . All drivers seem to work fine.

 
 
But I don't have a Cable

If you don't have a generic cable, you can use 2.5 and 3.5mm stereo jacks. Here are the pin outs, and what Jim's  (KC9HI)  cable looks like.
 


 
Note 3:   (Works with a variety of cables)
The example above shows a Kenwood style 2 pin plug, but this will also work with cables using an RJ-45 connector, such as those for a Leixen, etc. The same 3 wires are used. (GND, TxD and RxD)
 
 
Take it one step further
If you like to see the lights blinking, Bill Frick took the project one step further by adding plastic lenses to the case. Here's are pictorial of his creation.
 
 
What's the Advantage

- First and Foremost, it works. Take the radio out of the drawer, program it and have some fun.

- Next, it only cost around $2 to save the generic cable from the trash.

- Very Important - Bragging Rights. Now, when you go to a club meeting and someone says they can't get their cable to work, tell them they can build their own, just as you did.


I hope you had fun with this project.  It's super simple and very rewarding. I've made several and never had a failure. Say goodbye to driver issues.
 
 
My thanks to Jim KC9HI for his input on this project
and Bill Frick for his Pictorial review.


TOP of PAGE
 
Miklor Home
 
Miklor
 


   


Support
Miklor