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Have you installed the USB-to-serial adapter's drivers properly on the computer? That is a step that needs to be made sure of. If there was no drivers disc with the USB-to-serial adapter, it may not show up on the computer, in Device Manager, properly. Check in Device Manager and see whether the adapter is listed there as a device that is working properly.
Another factor may be putting the serial port (that the USB-to-serial adapter provides) into the proper mode. Have you set not only the baud rate for it, but also the number of bits, stop bits (or none), parity bits count, correctly? to match the requirements of the Burleigh wavemeter?
And lastly, have you chosen which USB port you are sending the serial data out of? an obvious point, but I thought I would ask.