Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Connecting to RS-232 Gear

Chances are you have equipment in your racks that you can connect to with the RS-232 protocol. System processors and video scalers are probably the two most likely. Last week I spent some quality time in monitor world tweaking our processors, Klark 9848s. The 9848 is a good processor and has a nice display window on the front panel to adjust every parameter. However, there are hundreds of them and going through the menu would have made my 6-hour job a 20-hour job. Thankfully, Klark has some decent Windows-based control software that lets me adjust everything using a GUI.

The trick is, the original 9848 only connects via RS-232 (newer models use Ethernet, which if you’re listening manufacturers, is the only way to go today!). So how do I hook up my MacBook Pro running XP in Parallels to the 9848? Enter the USB—RS-232 adapter.

I bought this for $20 at CoolGear. It’s a simple device that works with a driver to create an additional COM port for your PC (or virtual PC). Once installed and connected, you can select COM 3 (in my case) and talk to any RS-232 or RS-485 device, as long as you have the right cable. RS-232 usually uses a 9-pin DIN connector, though some, like the Klark use a mini-DIN round connector.

Using RS-232 can be a bit tricky and you may need to adjust some parameters to get everything working. Unlike modern serial protocols like USB the ancient RS-232—it was introduced in 1962—is not auto-configuring. Both devices must be speaking the same language. In this case, you need to adjust bitrate, stopbits, parity, echo and a few others depending on the device. It’s not terribly hard, though it may take a try or two to get it working.

Still, it’s worth the hassle. It’s much easier to use the GUI for a system processor that lets you see the EQ curve, adjust parameter with the mouse and keyboard and save and restore presets than it is twirling knobs on a front panel. And you may find you can do some really cool stuff with that equipment that you didn’t know about to boot!

This is a lot easier…
…than this! (yes, I know this is a 9848e, they don’t have pics of the old one anymore…)

6 Comments

  1. jcsoundguy@gmail.com

    I have been a big fan of the IO Gear USB adapter for more than 10 years. It just works. I’ve used it with many different computers and different processors. Its pretty bullet proof. Here is a link.

    http://www.iogear.com/product/GUC232A/

  2. jcsoundguy@gmail.com

    I have been a big fan of the IO Gear USB adapter for more than 10 years. It just works. I’ve used it with many different computers and different processors. Its pretty bullet proof. Here is a link.

    http://www.iogear.com/product/GUC232A/

  3. mike@churchtecharts.org

    IO Gear makes great stuff as well. I’ve used it and always had good results. Forgot about them—glad you mentioned it!

  4. mike@churchtecharts.org

    IO Gear makes great stuff as well. I’ve used it and always had good results. Forgot about them—glad you mentioned it!

  5. phil@philrowley.net

    Yeah, big fan of the IO gear model. The one I have needs a small driver to work on PC, but I like the “tail” on it so the adapter isn’t taking up space between ports.

  6. phil@philrowley.net

    Yeah, big fan of the IO gear model. The one I have needs a small driver to work on PC, but I like the “tail” on it so the adapter isn’t taking up space between ports.

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