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Setting up a USB to COM port on a 2018 Macbook Pro

PostPosted: 2. Apr 2019, 02:09
Hi all,

So, first let me just state upfront that I am a complete novice in what I am attempting to do, so if I've missed something obvious, well, yea. That's expected. Also, it's very unlikely I'm going to understand a high-level description of piping ports etc. None of the posts on this topic have helped to get me where I need to be.

So: My application is, I'm trying to interface with a piece of SCADA hardware using a proprietary serial / COM port cable (FTDI FT232R USB UART [0600]). The cable itself is connected to a Serial / USB converter, and the USB A male end is connected to my macbook through a USB A to USB C converter.

I have installed the extension pack, and when I plug the USB-serial cable into my computer through the adapter, Virtual Box recognizes and loads the drivers for it. The issue arises when I try to make use of the serial end of the connector. To the best of my knowledge, the virtual box does not react when the serial cable is plugged into the serial / USB converter. I have seen a second set of drivers load when this is done on a native windows machine.

I considered the fact that my MAC has no COM ports and attempted to set one up. Where I fall completely flat is selecting a host file / host pipe and the addressing. I'm not ashamed to say I'm 100% out of my depth and I'm going to repeat my request for any explanation/instructions to be explained like I'm 5, for the sake of getting it right the first time, and not screwing anything up on my host machine.

The current state of my USB/Serial looks like this:
Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 4.58.28 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 4.58.28 PM.png (124.28 KiB) Viewed 762 times

All previous explainers for how to select a path to pipe to have assumed I'd have a file in my /dev folder which is not present. I'm unsure if whether this file exists varies by OS distribution, previously downloaded software or whether I create some dummy file or what. Since the only settings I can turn my Vbox on with are with the Com Port enabled but disconnected at the moment, I think this is where I need to put in work.

Can anyone explain how I'm supposed to port this COM port, and what it is that I would be doing when I do so?

Re: Setting up a USB to COM port on a 2018 Macbook Pro

PostPosted: 2. Apr 2019, 09:08
by andyp73
If I were you then I would start by removing the FTDI FT232R USB device filter (shown in your bottom image) and let your macOS host install its own drivers for it. If you open on macOS and run the command:

ls /dev

It will give you a list of the device files. You are looking for something that starts cu.usbserial. In the guest configuration you can enable COM1 using settings similar to:

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 08.01.17.png
Serial port settings
Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 08.01.17.png (101.74 KiB) Viewed 755 times

When you start your guest you will see a regular old serial port. If your guest is Windows then the drivers for the port should just get installed and you can install and run your SCADA software on top in the normal manner.


Re: Setting up a USB to COM port on a 2018 Macbook Pro

PostPosted: 2. Apr 2019, 10:49
by socratis
Strangely enough, one of the USB devices that's missing from my arsenal is a USB-to-serial one. And imagine that I used to write serial drivers for a living, 20+ years ago! :)

So, unfortunately I have no experience with this one, I definitely would trust Andy's advice.

But, I noticed another thing which might really bite you; you have a filter for "Apple Inc. iBridge [0101]". That one AFAIK is the main USB bus that the keyboard and the touch pad use. If you have a filter for that, and your VM grabs the iBridge (even it has no clue what to do with it), guess what's going to be gone from your host...

Delete that filter, the only thing that's going to do for you is going to cause headaches. Why did you put such a filter to begin with? Were you putting a filter for each and every device that was showing up in the USB list?