Cable Drivers and USB Code 43

Modified on Sat, 05 Aug 2023 at 02:16 PM

Ever notice how RT Systems cables have that great big plastic plug on the USB end? Every wonder why we make them like that? 

Well, we call that black plastic part the "hood" and it's there for a very good reason. Under the hood, attached to the USB plug and soldered to the cable leads, is a circuit board. Here's a peek under the hood for the curious:

That adorable little fella is responsible for a lot of heavy lifting. 

Most radios can't speak to computers by default.  The circuit board, and the logic that lives on it, is what translates the language that your radio speaks to the USB language that you computer can understand. Without it in line doing its thing the vast majority of radios couldn't be programmed. 

Thanks little guy!

The catch, of course, is that your computer has to be running the correct driver to make sure that it can properly talk to our little buddy up there. 

Since we custom designed the circuitry and logic found in our cables we also have specific drivers that make them work. Those drivers are a part of the RT Systems software installation for Windows and they actually come packaged in the operating system on most newer Macs. This means that using our cables with our software is super simple. More often than not its as easy as plug and play. 

That's all well and good but what about some of the newer and more advanced radios coming out these days? Radios that have their own built in USB ports and use generic USB cables.  

Well, if a radio has its own USB port then that means that it has its own version of our little circuit board buddy built it to its own hardware. Pretty cool, but guess what? RT Systems didn't design that circuit board. Our drivers won't work with it. 

Not to worry though! The vast majority of Amateur radios out there with their own USB circuitry use the same driver to do their radio to computer translation. Those drivers are made by a company called Silicon Labs and once you have them working with one radio it'll usually mean that other radios are plug and play from then on. 

Unfortunately, this is not always the case and some more specialized radios need more specialized drivers. I'm looking at you, DMR radios. Still though, with the correct drivers installed, any radio that uses those drivers will be plug and play once you have things working. 

Regardless of what radio you're using you can usually find the driver you're looking for hosted on the RT Systems support page: Cable Driver Downloads

You can always feel free to give us a call if you need help figuring out what driver you need for your radio. 

If you're confident that you've gotten the correct driver installed and that everything should be working but still find yourself having trouble then read on. We've got some tips and tricks (and warnings) for you. 

The first place to look when you're troubleshooting a suspected cable issue is in Windows device manager. Try plugging and unplugging the cable a few times to see where it appears in the device manager list. The list updates in real time so you'll be looking for the item that appears/disappears when you plug/unplug. 

Once you've found your cable take note of whether it has an error symbol on it. If it does then we need to figure out why. Right click on it and select Properties. Down in the device details, more often than not in situations like this, you'll find... 

The Dreaded Code 43!

This code is a generic "communication failed" type of error and can happen for a few different reasons. 

The first and most common cause will be that you're lacking the proper driver. Refer to the first half of this article for more details on that specific issue and for a link to the support section of the RT Systems website where we host all kinds of drivers. Remember that you can always give us a call if you get stuck. 

The next potential cause is simply a bad cable. This one isn't that common but it's still worth mentioning as a possibility. 

The final potential cause, and the one that we see cause folks the most grief, is an improperly seated cable. This is most commonly encountered with the two-prong connectors that you find on the majority of "budget brand" radios. Those radios tend to have slightly looser tolerances that you find from major manufacturers and the spacing between the two prongs can vary slightly- even between radios of the same model. The cable will almost always seat down properly but sometimes you have to get a little more aggressive that you might expect with it. 

As an example, let's take a look at the "certainly trying its best" Baofeng DM-1701 DMR Radio. Review the two photos below and see if you can spot which one will throw us a Code 43.

Figure 1:

Figure 2:

Pretty similar looking, eh? It's extremely hard to tell by eye which one is the offender. 

What did you guess? 

If you said "Figure 1" then congratulations, you're today's lucky winner. 

We're talking about a difference measured in millimeters here but I promise that it makes a difference. Take a look at the cable plug to understand why.

Each of those black bands on the two individual prongs are an insulator between a discrete conductive element of the cable. The three elements are called the tip, ring, and sleeve. Each of those elements conducts a different part of the programming signal depending on the radio. 

If those elements are even slightly misaligned then they could be shorting the connection- i.e.  the ring portion touching the tip portion. Take a look at the extremely scientific diagrams below for an example.

Good Connection:

BAD Connection:

It's extremely important that you get the cable fully seated. Not just the two prong cables either- although they tend to be the most pronounced- any cable can seem to be troublesome if it's not fully nestled down in to it's home. Make sure you use enough elbow grease to get the job done!

Hopefully this helps solve some issues or, if nothing else, teaches you something you didn't already know. Thanks for reading and happy programming!

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