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Serial Device Servers extended guide 2023

Olga Weis Olga Weis

What is a serial device server?

A serial device server is a computer that is used to enable serial devices to communicate over an IP-based network. It transforms serial to Ethernet compatible signals that allow them to be used remotely by network-attached applications and machines. The serial server acts as an intermediary for a locally connected peripheral device by providing cabled network connectivity. This lets organizations make use of legacy devices which are not equipped with native networking capabilities.

COM over IP converter

Serial to Ethernet device servers work by creating virtual serial ports. The virtual COM interfaces that are created emulate physical serial ports and are used to connect the peripheral device to the network. The Ethernet serial server assigns TCP ports and IP addresses to facilitate communication between users and the connected devices. A serial printer server will also route network traffic to the specified serial device.

Serial device servers come in a variety of styles and configurations that are appropriate for different usage scenarios. Sharing a printer among coworkers in the same physical office can be implemented with a simple serial server that does not need to offer security or authorization capabilities. Much more sophisticated serial to Ethernet device servers are used in situations where additional control over the connected equipment is required. Full encryption and authentication is available on Ethernet serial device servers that are used when security is important such as in industrial applications or automated assembly lines.

There is a software alternative to using a physical serial device server which provides the same functionality without additional hardware or configuration. Serial over Ethernet software provides a solution that enables you to create virtual serial ports which can be used as if they were a physical interface and connect serial devices over a network.
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The top tested serial device servers

Just about any type of peripheral serial device can be used with serial port servers. Scanners, printers, display devices, laboratory equipment, industrial automation sensors, and security systems are a few examples of the type of equipment that can be made more valuable by being shared to Ethernet. Many serial device servers are capable of connecting multiple peripherals to a single COM port. Wired and wireless serial device servers can be obtained to suit the needs of specific environments. An Ethernet modem is a specific type of serial port server that enables IP communication to be used to establish remote connectivity with serial devices. These connections provide the user with the same control and functionality over the device as if they had a direct physical connection.

Here is an overview of some popular serial devices that we have tested to give you an idea of the available options.

MOXA Serial Device Server

Moxa is a worldwide leader in the manufacture of industrial-grade device connectivity solutions. They have been furnishing business and industry with ruggedly constructed and durable equipment since 1987. Moxa serial to Ethernet device servers are made to perform in harsh environments and are used to power critical systems such as automated power generation and intelligent transportation systems. Moxa serial device server feature redundant power inputs and are DIN-rail mountable, making them ideal for time-sensitive industrial applications.

MOXA serial device server

We would like to draw your attention to a specific Moxa serial device server. The NPort IA5000A-I/O serial device server is a cloud-ready unit that features built-in digital I/Os. It is a flexible solution for connecting with serial devices implemented on a cloud platform or Ethernet network. The NPort IA5000A-I/O easily communicates with industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications to facilitate assembly-line automation and can be integrated with public cloud services such as Alibaba and Azure. The device’s digital I/Os can be controlled over an IP network using the Modbus protocol or be configured through a web browser. Compatibility with legacy applications can be implemented by installing the unit as a COM port on a Windows or Linux computer.

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Startech device server

Startech’s serial to ethernet device server, the NETRS2321P, is a single-port unit that gives users the capability to access, manage, and control serial devices over an IP network. This RS232 device server’s utility is extended by using it with the free, StarTech.com Serial Device Application Software (NETRSAPP). The software runs on Android and iOS devices as well as the Chrome browser. It can be used to develop a customized interface that addresses the needs of your specific environment.

Startech serial device server

You can interact with RS232 devices over the network and access them as if you had a direct physical connection. The NETRS2321P works with your system’s serial ports and provides an increased communication speed of up to 460.8Kbps.

Tibbo Serial Device Server

The Tibbo DS100 serial device server is a small and versatile device that is the company’s original "blue shell” unit. It enables you to quickly implement network connectivity with any serial equipment or application. Tibbo offers the Tibbo Device Server Toolkit (TDST) for the Windows platform. The software allows you to use the Tibbo’s serial ports as remote interfaces for your computer. There is also a Linux version of the software available. Two models are available that provide different interfaces. The DS100R comes equipped with an RS232 port and DS100B is equipped with a more flexible universal RS232/422/485 interface.

Tibbo DS100 serial device server

Serial Server software is a solution that provides a serial device server connectivity over Ethernet without hardware or additional cabling. Simply download the software and you can start sharing and accessing serial devices over Ethernet or any IP-based network.

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Advantech serial device server

One of the advantages of Advantech’s serial to Ethernet device servers is the ease with which they can be installed and configured. The devices support wired and wireless networks and have multiple modes of operation suitable for industrial automation implementations. You can obtain a Dual or single wired Ethernet unit that provides 1 to 16 serial ports and is DIN-rail mountable to furnish RS232/422/485 connectivity in challenging field environments.

Advantech serial device server

Advantech has several economical choices for RS232/422/485 connectivity and redirection that lend themselves to use in industrial automation. The EKI-1521, EKI-1522 and EKI-1524 have two Mac addresses and Ethernet ports that use redundancy to increase the unit’s reliability. These devices enable you to connect serial devices that use the RS232/422/485 protocols to any IP-based network, such as the Internet or a LAN. Advantech equipment lets you easily connect virtually any device with a serial interface to your network.

Lantronix serial device server

Machine to machine communication relies on the ability to connect devices over a network. Lantronix offers a solution with a number of options within their UDS line of device servers. These serial device servers enable the remote access, control, and management of network-connected serial peripheral equipment from anywhere in the world.

Lantronix

You can quickly connect any serial device to your network with the Lantronix UDS1100. It is an inexpensive, basic unit that lets you remotely manage COM devices that are not yet network-attached. The equipment is UL 864 listed, enabling it to be used with alarm panel equipment to extend their use over a network.

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