Installing Drivers on Latest Versions of MacOS
LATEST UPDATE: February 2021
Silicon Labs has updated their CP210x VCP driver for Mac OSX. Here is a link to their download page for VCP drivers: Download VCP Drivers
Select the ‘Downloads’ tab, and then under the section ‘Software Downloads’ select ‘CP210x VCP MacOSX Driver’ — this will download a *.zip file. Extract the contents of the *.zip and then run the *.dmg file to install the VCP driver.
In the latest versions of the MacOS, Apple changed the security settings for installing drivers and — in doing so — broke every application that installs USB-to-UART drivers for non-Apple devices. Drivers that worked in earlier versions of the MacOS are no longer allowed to be installed and run under the new, default security settings. A solution that seems to work in some cases (but not all) is to manually install the latest version of the Silicon Labs driver — here is a link to a page with Silicon Labs drivers, scroll down to “Download for Macintosh OSX (v5.2.4)”:
Silicon Labs driver for MacOS
IMPORTANT: Do not reboot. After running the Silicon Labs installer then their driver will temporarily have permission to run. But when you reboot then that permission is lost. This means you need to once again run the Silicon Labs installer after rebooting. Alternatively, you can open a terminal window and enter the following commands to, first, uninstall and then re-install the Silicon Labs driver:
> sudo kextunload -b com.silabs.driver.CP210xVCPDriver
> sudo kextload -b com.silabs.driver.CP210xVCPDriver
In the MacOS world, software drivers that extend the functionality of the MacOS are referred to as “Kernel Extentions”. Apple is in the process of deprecating Kernel Extensions in favor “System Extensions”. Kernel Extensions run in “kernel space” and require higher security privileges, whereas System Extensions run in “user space” with lower security requirements. Here’s a link that explains a bit more:
MacOS Kernel and System Extensions
The problem arises because Apple implemented this change before hardware vendors have been able to transition their software drivers from running as a Kernel Extension to running as a System Extension. Silicon Labs is a **big** company and their USB chips dominate the market. As for why Apple would choose to exclude devices with Silicon Labs USB chips from being attached to their machines, is anyone’s guess.
Troubleshooting Connectivity Problems:
- See instructions above for installing the latest USB-to-UART driver from Silicon Labs.
- MacOS Sierra (or newer) — check under System Preferences > Security & Privacy to make sure the software is allowed to run.
- Use a high quality mini-USB cable. Some cables are not capable of sustaining a high current or have a low quality connector that may not provide the required power an RF Explorer device needs, particularly when charging the unit. Before you try anything else, make sure you test 2 or 3 different cables. This is the most common problem experienced and reported by users.
- Some USB cables designed for cell phones include incompatible, internal resistors (designed to identify them as proprietary) and will not work with RF Explorer.
- Use the RF Explorer’s built-in LCD menu to navigate to the ‘CONFIG MENU’ and confirm the ‘USB Baud’ is set to ‘500 Kbps’ (and NOT 2.4 Kbps).
- To check if the Silicon Labs driver is correctly installed and RF Explorer is being recognized, connect the device to the machine’s USB port, open a terminal window, and run the following command:
If the device is recognized then the response should be:
If you do not get this response then try with a different USB cable.