Best Serial to Ethernet solutions on the market

Olga Weis

In this serial to Ethernet guide, you’ll find information about the latest developments and solutions in the field of serial communications. We’ll tell you how to share serial devices over Ethernet using the most advanced software and hardware tools. You’ll get the chance to compare the advantages of different products and make a deliberate choice.

Contents


  1. Serial over Ethernet Software
  2. Complex RS232 over IP solutions: software+hardware
  3. Hardware serial to Ethernet converters
  4. What is Serial-over-IP technology?

Serial over Ethernet Software


As we already know, serial devices are still widely applied in various industrial divisions. However, vendors of modern computers don’t rush to equip their products with a good old RS232 interface and add the USB port instead.

Here the question arises of whether it’s possible to connect to a serial device if you don’t have any serial ports on your PC?

The answer is pretty simple. Yes, you can do this as long as you have a special software tool installed on your computer. This wonderful tool is called serial over Ethernet software.

With the help of a dedicated serial over IP app, you’ll be able to create multiple virtual serial ports and communicate through them with remote equipment as though the devices were connected directly to your local machine.

The operation principle of one of these solutions is described in this short video:

1.1. Serial over Ethernet Connector


Serial to Ethernet Connector is one of the leading solutions in the market of serial over IP software. The program has been developed by Eltima for sharing RS232, RS422, and RS485 ports over TCP/IP or UDP channels. This utility supports serial over Ethernet protocol, which allows redirecting real and virtual COM interfaces over local networks.

Here’s what you can achieve with Serial to Ethernet Connector:


  1. Provide your system with a plenty of virtual COM ports which work exactly the same as physical ones.
  2. Connect to remote serial devices no matter the distance.
  3. Establish cross-platform communications between Windows and Linux platforms.
  4. Forward locally attached serial devices to guest operating systems like Hyper-V, VMWare, etc.
  5. Share serial ports or connect to remote devices from ARM computers, and more.
Serial to Ethernet Connector

On top of that, RS232 over IP Connector is compatible with various Windows systems:

  • Windows XP/2003/2008/Vista (32-bit and 64-bit);
  • Windows 10 (32-bit and 64-bit);
  • Windows server 2012.

Plus, the utility works perfectly well on Windows Mobile and Linux platforms.

1.2. TCP-Com


The next solution is able to share virtual serial ports over Ethernet as well. It is called TCP-Com. TCP-Com is a simple app that can convert RS232 serial data to TCP/IP data and vice versa. This app will be a big help for those who want to communicate with serial devices via TCP/IP port connections.

The following tasks can be easily resolved with this efficient utility:


  1. Turning your local PC into a Serial Device Server.
  2. Exchanging data with serial applications installed on remote network computers via the RS232 interface.
  3. Accessing remote serial ports over IP as though they were local ones.
  4. Mapping one TCP/IP port to another, and more.
Serial Device Server

The utility is available only for Windows systems: Win 98 to Win 10 (both 32- and 64-bit).

1.3. Network Serial Port Kit


Another application that will come in handy for sharing serial ports over Ethernet is Network Serial Port Kit. This software works over both the Internet and LAN, which means you’ll be able to access any serial device even if it’s located miles away from your PC.

The advanced capabilities of Network Serial Port Kit include:


  1. Creating connections between real and virtual serial ports in such a way that all the data and signals written to the virtual interface are transferred to the remote physical COM port and vice versa.
  2. Support for a wide range of serial devices like barcode scanners, modems, GPS, sensors, etc.
  3. Virtual COM ports created using Network Serial Port Kit are treated by serial apps as hardware ones as they completely emulate all real port’s internals and behavior.
Network Serial Port Kit

Network Serial Port Kit can be used on Windows, Version: 5.8.11.

1.4. SERIAL-TCP/IP


Serial-TCP/IP program is a simple way to bridge your existing RS232 port and TCP/IP network so that you can communicate with remote serial equipment and don’t need to change the existing protocol. The app does not require any serial cables or hardware. It can be used without any distance limitations.

Among the useful features of Serial-TCP/IP you’ll find:

  1. The built-in "Ping", "Resolve IP Address/Host Name", "COM Port State LEDs", and "Data Logging" tools for analyzing TCP/IP and COM network.
  2. The unlimited transmission distance.
  3. High reliability and the data transfer speed.
Serial-TCP/IP

You can install the software on a Windows computer, running Windows 8, 7, Vista, or XP.

1.5. Advanced Virtual COM port


Advanced Virtual COM Port is a useful utility for serial communications across the network. The app offers powerful features to create virtual COM ports and share real ones for remote access. This serial to Ethernet software helps to establish connections via a virtual null-modem cable locally or through a TCP/IP network.

Here are the key advantages of this app:


  1. The option of hot virtual COM port creation and removal without rebooting the PC.
  2. The ability to create up to 255 Virtual COM Ports.
  3. Full emulation of Flow control.
create virtual COM ports

The utility supports many Windows versions including WinXP, Win2000, Windows Vista Starter, Windows 8.1 (32 and 64-bit).

1.6. SerialToIP


SerialToIP is a Terminal server software which allows you to establish a connection with a device attached to a serial port over LAN or the Internet using well-supported TCP socket communications. This project is designed as a free solution. The working code it offers is plain and clear to understand.

The reasons why you should try SerialToIP:


  1. It’s available as both the command line and GUI app.
  2. It can be developed further by anyone with reasonable SW development experience about C#.
  3. It provides a transparent channel either in the TCP-server or TCP-client socket mode from the TCP/IP network to a pre-configured COM port.
SerialToIP

Complex RS232 over IP solutions: software+hardware


Today, it’s not an easy matter to find an RS232 port on modern PCs. However serial interfaces are still widely applied in industrial automation, security systems, and the IT industry.

Serial-over-TCP/IP converter by Tibbo seems to be an ideal solution for such a simple (in the age of innovative technology) operation as serial data transmission via TCP/IP protocol.

2.1. Tibbo


Tibbo has developed efficient external SoI-controllers (also known as “Device Servers”) as well as Serial-to-Ethernet modules designed specifically for SoI (serial over IP) firmware. Each hardware tool is delivered together with a special software toolkit for Windows which includes the Virtual COM Port over TCP Driver and a set of useful management utilities.

The controlling software allows you to work with the Device Server's serial ports as if they were real COM ports on your PC.

Here’s why Tibbo Serial-over-TCP/IP tools are that popular:


  1. It is possible to use the Virtual COM Port Driver for Linux.
  2. The Tibbo’s solutions make it possible to create direct TCP and UDP connections.

    All of the Serial-over-IP devices offered by Tibbo support standard TCP and UDP protocols, so you can simply open a network socket and exchange data directly with the serial port of the Device Server. And you can do this without using the Driver.

  3. Connections between devices

A direct TCP or UDP connection can be created between two Tibbo Device Servers. Thanks to this outstanding feature you can create a virtual connection through serial channels within a single room, a building and even globally.

2.2. HW VSP - Virtual Serial Port


HW VSP is a dedicated serial over IP software driver used for providing an operating system with virtual serial interfaces. This solution can easily forward any data from a virtual COM port to a hardware serial port over IP. A user just needs to specify the IP address and port number in the software settings. HW VSP is able to run as an NT service suitable for servers.

Although this driver can be used as a stand-alone app, it often comes together with a hardware RS232 over IP converter (e.g. PortBox2). When used together with the hardware, HW VSP software allows changing the connection parameters like the speed and parity, controlling all digital outputs and inputs, and more.

Once you install HW VSP driver on your computer, you can turn the machine into a TCP server, which means you’ll be able to send data to remote ports and communicate with remote serial apps over a TCP channel.

The major benefits you get with HW VSP driver:

  1. HW VSP is a freeware and is available in a single-port and multi-port versions.
  2. The installation of this serial over Ethernet software is fairly straightforward.
  3. You can use the solution with Windows 2000, XP, Win 8, Win 8 NEW& (32-bit or 64 bit).
  4. It works over the RFC 2217 protocol.
  5. HW VSP can operate as a “TCP client” and a “TCP server”.

Hardware serial to Ethernet converters

RS232 to Ethernet converter

A hardware RS232 to Ethernet converter (adapter) is a simple and cost-effective way to quickly connect RS-232/RS-422/RS485 equipment to a computer via Ethernet network. Serial to Ethernet adapters allow you to share COM ports over the network without using any programs for the computer, which saves the cost of software development. A Serial Device Server is an efficient solution for remote controlling and monitoring of the status of your RS-232/RS-422/RS-485 devices over Ethernet.

The problems that can be solved using Serial Servers can be divided into local and network ones. The first type covers issues related to connecting a certain device via a serial interface to a workstation not equipped with a COM port. The second type can be described as sharing serial interfaces or COM-based equipment over Ethernet network.

Hardware Serial to Ethernet converters is a wide class of devices which are included in the product range of many manufacturers of communication equipment. These solutions can be called RS485 to Ethernet adapters, consoles, or device servers and can fit a different number of serial ports depending on the model.

Some popular RS485 to Ethernet converters:


NetPort by L-com is a 1-port serial server. NetPort is capable of sharing any serial device over the TCP/IP network. The solution offers a built-in web server which allows any device to which it is connected to be assessed and monitored via a standard Internet browser. This converter easily connects RS232 interfaces and serial-based equipment to the Ethernet IP network

NetPort by L-com

8-port Serial Device Server ESE-400D by B&B Electronics is another example of efficient Device Server hardware. The solution supports RS232, RS422, and RS485 interfaces and provides a range of powerful features which include serial tunneling, IP multicast, surge suppression, and +5V Out option.

8-port Serial Device Server ESE-400D

Also, you can try to connect your serial devices to a wireless LAN. What will help you do this is a wireless RS485 to Ethernet converter NPort W2000A Series by MOXA. This 2-port adapter will help you interface serial equipment to an IEEE 802.11a/b/g network. This solution comes with a built-in WLAN site survey tool and supports offline port buffering and serial data logging. In addition, it offers secure data access with WEP, WPA, WPA2.

NPort W2000A Series by MOXA

What is Serial-over-IP technology?


One of the first applications of serial communications was the sphere of industrial automation where various sensors and data loggers exchanged data with computers via RS232, RS422, and RS485 ports.

The direct serial connections, however, have some limitations like the speed of data transfer, distance, and accessibility. So users required an efficient alternative, a more flexible way to communicate data between serial equipment. What came to the rescue was Ethernet standard.

Ethernet technology

Ethernet technology is still going strong in industrial markets. It allows connecting wired local area networks (LANs), enabling devices to communicate with each other via a serial communications protocol. The low cost and ease of integration make this ‘legacy’ standard a frequently applied method in various areas of industry.

With the spread of Ethernet in the industrial sector, a tendency has emerged of unifying the network for managing not only workstations but also a wide variety of electronics. Ethernet has been gradually replacing specific industrial interfaces, including the very common RS232, RS422, RS485 ports. On the new models of industrial automation tools, you can often see the LAN port.

Nevertheless, many COM-based automation tools are still in use and continue to be mass-produced. So it is logical that the manufacturers of communication equipment have decided to "link" serial interfaces and Ethernet technology. Thus, hardware “gateways” called Serial Device Servers (or Serial to Ethernet Converters) were born.

Here you can find the list of the most efficient and popular serial to Ethernet hardware available in the market today.

The efforts of the developers did not stop there, however. And Serial to Ethernet technology is now delivered as a part of dedicated software apps. There are advanced software solutions for sharing devices over the TCP/IP network. With a dedicated app, you can turn your home computer into a serial device server with multiple remote clients.

Serial to Ethernet Connector

Requirements: Windows 2000, Windows (32-bit and 64-bit): XP/2003/2008/ Vista/7/8/10, Windows Server 2012 , 4.66MB size
Version 7.1.876 (27th Jan, 2017) Release notes
Category: Serial Port Software