Connecting USB/Bluetooth GPS with Mac M1 [Update]

The arrival of Macs with Apple M1 processors and macOS systems 11 "Big Sur" and macOS 12 "Monterey" has caused disappointments among users of GPS connected via USB and/or Bluetooth for their navigation applications.

In USB, despite the latest driver available Prolific V.2.1.0, we had to wait for the last update macOS 12.2 to make the GPS BU-353/S4 of GlobalSat operational. The same goes for the GNS3000 (¹) in Bluetooth that was experiencing a recognized instability of the interface for connecting multiple devices, instability that unfortunately does not yet seem to be fully fixed.

USB port

Once the BU-353 is connected to a USB port on the Mac M1 (using a USB-C converter), the driver creates a serial port usbserial-xxx. With the CoolTerm utility, we can now display the NMEA sentences that are sent by the GPS. I specify that I tested with my "old" BU-353S3 who is more than ten years old, not the most recent BU-353S4.

But beware, to date only the navigation application MacENCx64 directly recognizes the serial port, by selecting the type = SIRF USB, and displays the position.

Weather4D Routing & Navigation does not read the serial port, because this function does not exist on iOS. Note that the latest version of OpenCPN 5.6.0 for Mac is not given as compatible with macOS 11/12 and does not detect the serial port. However, one can use the trick : [Update 15/02/22 – Read Eric Rodriguez's latest comment at the end of the article].


When it works, it is super ! The GNS3000 is well recognized and the connection can be activated. A GNS3000 serial port is created. On my first try I had no problems, except that the data was only received at the speed of 38400 bps (while the device is factory set to transmit at 4800 bps) :

As for the USB connection, MacENCx64 recognizes the GNS3000 port by selecting the type = Other and flow rate set to 38400.

With Weather4D enabled in the Mac's "Location Service" settings, the GPS position is well received from the GNS3000 :

[Update] With OpenCPN 5.6.0 we must use the same trick as that described by Eric Rodriguez when creating the serial port = /dev/cu. GNS3000 with a speed = 38400. But, once again, incomprehensibly, it may happen that the connection does not establish. Mystery…


There, at least, everything works just fine ! Regardless of the connected Wi-Fi gateway sending NMEA data, with MacENC as with Weather4D Routing & Navigation :

Even with OpenCPN, but beware, a lot of malfunctions could occur with this version not adapted to macOS 11 and later.

Summary, temporaly, there are still fixes to be expected with future updates of the operating system of Macs both in USB connection and Bluetooth. Fortunately, Wi-Fi gateways and multiplexers are becoming widespread on our boats, allowing us to connect to any type of computer and mobile device, to work with our favorite navigation apps.

I will not fail to "refresh" this post during tests with the arrival of new versions of the macOS system.

(¹GNS3000 Bluetooth GPS Receiver for Mobiles


7 Replies to "Connecting USB/Bluetooth GPS with Mac M1 [Update]”

  1. Good evening,
    Problème résolu de réception antenne GPS Globalsat BU-354S4 sur dernier MacBook Air M1 avec OS Monterey 12.1 and even 12.2 with opencpn 5.6.
    Actually on the connection tab, Serial USB input is not detected automatically.
    It is necessary to determine beforehand, by a utility application, identification of the serial port used.
    This manipulation being done, you must manually fill in the usb serial port as follows :
    /dev/cu.usbserial-1140. 1140 being the identification of my serial port used for the Globalsat GPS antenna on my Mac.
    This information being given, within seconds the antenna automatically detects the position. Vous pouvez également connecter l’onglet NMEA 183 to check the correct reception of GPS sentenses.
    J’ai mis beaucoup de temps à trouver la solution, avec l’aide de Francis Fustier également, mais après avoir trouvé l’astuce, cela fonctionne correctement depuis ce WE…
    Bon tests en navigation.

  2. Good evening Mr. Fustier,
    For wiping the casts together with the latest Monterey version on Mac M1, I also confirm that even with the latest Monterey version 12.2 Downloaded, Globalsat BU354S4 antenna still not working on OpenCpn…
    I do believe that it is preferable and more about (although more expensive) to communicate in Wifi with an internal network on board and to take the opportunity to connect other instruments (AIS, anemometer, sounder, GPS, etc…).

  3. Hello,
    Thank you for this precise article. My comment will be slightly off topic, but not completely. I'm using a Chromebook, which therefore has a different OS from MacOS (it's ChromeOS, derived from Android), but which has an M1 chip (advantage of low consumption).
    I noticed the same problem of recognition of external GPS in Bluetooth (a GNS2000). The service is simply not included in the OS, probably because all Android phones have a GPS chip included in it.
    I hope that the evolution reported in your article for MacOS will be emulated on Android…

  4. Thank you for this feedback... more than to hope that Apple and Olivier integrate this in a future version

  5. Hello,

    In the same kind of idea, is it possible to connect a USB shipmodul to Weather4D connected to a MAC M1.


    1. No, nor gps since the serial port is not (yet) managed by Weather4D which, I remember, is a development under iOS, not macOS. On the other hand a Miniplex-2/-3Wi no problem.

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