Bluetooth: making it work, keeping it working

How do you get Bluetooth to work reliably and predictably on a WinXP SP2 desktop, with USB Bluetooth adapters (or otherwise)? I’m trying to connect to little portable dataloggers with very mixed results, and about ready to give up on it all.

These dataloggers have no connection means other than Bluetooth. They come with software to install on the PC, which handles the configuration and reading of the loggers once there’s a Bluetooth connection set up. I have actually connected with each of them at various times, but it’s so unreliable that they aren’t practically useable yet, and I’m giving up soon. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other products out there that have the functionality of these dataloggers, so this means giving up on the entire project.

The problems have been failure to connect, the logger software crashing the PC when connection fails (no response to mouse or keyboard or On button and I have to pull the line cord), and dropped connections. The loggers also sometimes get stuck in a confused state and I have to pull the battery for hours to recover (though I don’t know that this is a consequence of Bluetooth problems). As of the most recent session of working with these things, three loggers appear to work (at least some basic functions work) and two loggers crash the PC when I try to connect. Pulling the batteries didn’t fix them, at least not yesterday.

The most successful method of working with them so far has been to turn on only one datalogger, open Windows’ “Bluetooth Devices” box, “Add” the device (so that it is the only device listed), start the logger software, hit the software’s “Connect to device…” button, do something useful, hit “Connect to device…” again to disconnect, close the software, go to Windows’ “Bluetooth Devices” again and “Remove” the device, then turn that logger off.

I then go through all this again for the next logger, then the next one, and so forth.

Trying to Add more than one device at the same time has caused lots of trouble. Some of the COM ports disappear, or the logger software only lists some of the COM ports that “Bluetooth Devices” lists, generally excluding the ones I need. I gather that Adding multiple devices is supposed to work, but I’m not even trying to achieve that - just having one single device work at a time would be a big win at this point and I’d be quite satisfied with it!

I have had the most success with an “iogear” USB Bluetooth adapter. Its install program dies partway through, but I can use the adapter with Microsoft’s Bluetooth driver. I also bought a “Belkin” Bluetooth adapter from the logger manufacturer, but its install program complains I haven’t plugged the adapter in when I have, and Windows gives a message afterwards saying “New hardware has been installed that may not work properly”.

I’m working with people on the discussion forum run by the logger manufacturer (where I read that many people have connection difficulties and often give up on the product, but of course the forum is where people having problems congregate). I’m also trying to get tech support from the manufacturer. But since the problem seems to be somewhere in the connection between their product and my system, I wonder what else I can be trying.

I’m also hunting for other PC systems on which I can install the logger software and Bluetooth hardware, but don’t have one yet. Obviously this could give me a much better idea what is going on.

So, anybody have any advice? Tips? Tricks? Products to recommend?

Many thanks!