Serial to Ethernet Extender
Software and hardware solution comparison

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It is quite likely that we use applications and devices that interactive serial ports every day. Some examples our sensors and monitors employed in industrial automation systems, laboratory and medical equipment, and point-of-sale transaction devices. We often need to access these devices remotely to get our work done. The best way to accomplish this is to use an RS232 serial extender to share your COM port over the network.

We will discuss the workings of remote RS232 and other serial ports in this article, and investigate techniques we can use to extend RS232 to Ethernet, or better yet, extend any serial port over a network.

Contents

  1. Remote access extender software
  2. List of best serial over Ethernet hardware extenders
  3. How to use hardware extenders
  4. Conclusions

Software solution to access RS232 devices remotely

Serial extender software is the simplest way to extend your RS-232 port to Ethernet. Here's a scenario you might face. You have multiple serial devices working with a mix of different data transfer protocols such as RS232/485/422. These devices are located remotely, maybe even in different parts of the world, and you need to obtain simultaneous access to all of them.

This doesn't seem practical at first glance. Running cables over great distances is not a realistic choice. What will make it possible is using RS232 to Ethernet extender software. This RS232 extender gives you the ability to access remotely access multiple serial ports that are supporting various protocols. No more concerns about cable length when connecting your computer to serial devices. By using Serial to Ethernet extender you can access and display serial ports located anywhere on the network as if they were plugged into your local machine.

Serial to Ethernet extender software: Access serial port device over network. No hardware or additional settings needed - Serial to Ethernet Connector from Eltima extends COM port over IP.
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Serial to Ethernet Connector

Connect serial ports over Ethernet
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Serial to Ethernet Connector

Step-by-step guide on how to use the RS232 to Ethernet extender:

  1. Download the software from this link, and install it on both the computer that is sharing the serial port as well as the one that will be accessing it remotely.
  2. Run the RS232 cat5 extender software on the computer that will share the port. Select the ‘Server” connection in the application and customize your setting if desired. Then, to open the port, click “Create connection’.
  3. Launch the program and create a ‘Client’ connection on the computer that will remotely access the port. Verify that the remote computer’s hostname and the number of the shared port are identical on both the client and server machines and then click ‘Connect’.

It’s that easy. Now by using this wireless serial port extender you have access to al the functionality of the remote device.

Hardware solution to extend RS232 over IP


Hardware RS232 extenders over cat5 are just small servers that connect autonomous serially connected devices to the network.

Unfortunately, like many hardware solutions, it has limitations.

Serial to Ethernet Extener

The specifications of the RS232 extender limits the number of devices that can be used. Typical configurations on hardware db9 extender provide 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32 ports.

Another issue is that all extenders do not support the RS422/232/485 protocols simultaneously. You have to select one type of port to work with at a time.

In order to display serial devices on your computer, you need to use additional software that will emulate virtual serial ports.

Let's take a closer look to RS232 extenders. Here we add the list of best hardware solutions to access serial port over network.

Serial to Ethernet Server by NetBurner

A popular hardware RS232 over IP extender is NetBurner’s Serial to Ethernet Server. No programming skills are required to use the virtual serial port utility included with the device. The tool is designed to run under the Windows operating system and allows you to remotely access serial devices over the network. When you insert a serial device into a remote NetBurner server it will appear in your local machine’s Device Manager as if it was directly connected to your computer. The hardware is pre-programmed to provide the ability to convert data right out of the box.
Serial to Ethernet Server by NetBurner

RS232 to Ethernet converter by Perle

RS232 to Ethernet converter by Perle is another piece of hardware that serves as an RS485 extender and is in wide use for sharing serial ports over an IP network. It is a good choice if you will e working with serial interfaces. Customizable baud rates and various connector types are available with the Perle converters to suit different usage scenarios.

RS232 to Ethernet converter by Perle

SerialLynx solution

Another option when sharing serial devices over a network is desired is the Serial-to-Ethernet adapter by SerialLynx. The hardware component of this solution takes serial data traveling through its serial ports and convert it into TCP/IP data. It can act as a wired or wireless RS232 extender connecting serial interfaces to a remote computer. This RS232 extender lets you share up to two wired serial port devices. Physically connecting a device to the hardware unit’s serial port enables serial over IP communication.
SerialLynx solution

Lantronix UDS1100 external device server

UDS1100 is a single-port serial extender that enables access and control over network-attached serial devices over a LAN or the Internet. It is a compact device that can create reliable and fast connections over the network and supports the RS232, RS422, or RS485 protocols. It features a built-in web server that allows you to configure the hardware from any web browser.
UDS1100 external device server

How to set up RS232 to IP extender hardware:


After you choose the extender for your needs, you need to set it up for proper work. The first step is to assign a static IP address to your computer. After that, install the virtual serial port software.

You can use either a crossover cable or standard Ethernet cable to connect the RS232 to Ethernet IP extender to your computer. It also needs to be connected to the power supply.

Enter the extender’s IP address into your browser and press ‘Enter’ to check your connection. You should be brought to the Admin page. If you are not, repeat the extender’s setup procedure. Run the application and select ‘Search’. When the RS232 to TCP/IP extender is located, you create a virtual port by clicking the ‘Create COM port’ button.

You will now see the newly created port when you use your computer’s Device Manager. If yo don’t see it, return to the setup procedure again.

The bottom line

We have seen two methods that can be employed to extend serial devices over the network to enable remote access to them. You may have noticed that the software solution is the better choice of the two. Without the need for any additional hardware, RS232 to Ethernet extender from Eltima will get the job done and is easy to set up and manage.