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RS-232 software?
This thread has 13 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Saturday December 8, 2018 at 21:51
hunterjwizard
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Hi folks,

Forgive me, but I am new to all of this. I'm using a variety of video switches, and everything is RS-232 compliant. I'm wondering if there exists some software I can use to control everything. I was looking into writing my own, but I feel like with so many devices supporting the protocol, someone must be making programs that can do all of this?

Thanks!
Post 2 made on Sunday December 9, 2018 at 18:51
davidcasemore
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First you have to decide what you want to control it WITH. An IR remote control? An RF remote control? A smart phone and Wi-Fi? A custom in-wall touch screen? Your laptop?

Once you know that you have to assemble the correct hardware to achieve that goal. Only then can you start writing the software, or more likely, software drivers have already been written for the products you're using.
OP | Post 3 made on Monday December 10, 2018 at 00:06
hunterjwizard
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A touch screen is my favorite idea, second favorite would just be my computer(the whole switching array is for changing the inputs on some 10+ monitors). Everything I need to control is RS-232.

My original plan had been to simple use serial to USB adapters, then hook everything up to a rasberry pi where the software would live. But this would mean effectively writing my own software program with GUI. Not beyond my capabilities, but a huge challenge.

If there's a product or software on the market that can do what I want without as much work on my part, I am interested.

If it matters, 6 of the 7 total devices are located in the same room(5 in a rack), with the sixth in the other room but reachable by many means.

The devices are:

LG 43UD79-B 43" monitor
Extron RGB-DVI 300
Connectpro DVI switch
Extron VGA 8x4 switcher scaler
Extron VGA 16x8 switcher scaler
Monoprice 8x1 HDMI switcher
As yet undecided 4k DVI switcher-scaler(still shopping)

All have console ports, all should be controllable.
Post 4 made on Monday December 10, 2018 at 03:00
davidcasemore
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Since the bulk of your equipment is Extron then the easiest solution would be any of the many Extron touch panels, keypads and/or processors.

You could get an Extron processor with the correct amount of serial ports and control it with an iPhone or Android smart phone or tablet. Or, you could use an Extron wall mount or desktop touchscreen as your interface.

Extron makes in-wall keypads which send RS-232 codes to your devices. The drivers (software code) would already be written for any of the Extron products. Adding the other products would be a piece of cake. With your equipment list, and depending on what type of control you want to have, you may need several keypads.

You have to decide which interface works best for you in this system you're putting together. But by using Extron products you will really make the process very simple.

Take a look around here:

[Link: extron.com]

and here:

[Link: extron.com] (select the tab for Diagram)
OP | Post 5 made on Tuesday December 11, 2018 at 16:57
hunterjwizard
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Thank you! That was very helpful. After doing some digging, I went ahead and bought a gently used IPCP 505, looks like that and possibly some other tools will do exactly what I need.

One question maybe you can help with: the connectors on the back aren't normal serial connectors such as I'm used to dealing with. Are there prefabricated cables, or should I be looking for ends and wiring my own? I have a few of the ends that came with different extron devices I bought, but for control most appear to have normal serial ports like you'd find on a PC.

Again, I apologize, I am very new to this.
Post 6 made on Tuesday December 11, 2018 at 18:04
davidcasemore
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The IPCP 505 should be perfect for want you want as it has way more serial ports than you need. It also gives you IR and relay control as well.

This unit has Phoenix connectors on the back. The photos on the Extron web site shows the back of the unit with the plugs removed from the connectors. Your wires hook up to those plugs just by stripping the insulation, inserting the wire under the terminal on the plug, and tightening the screw with a tiny screwdriver. The you just plug the plug into the back of the IPCP 505 into the appropriate connector. Some of the RS-232 Com ports (COM 7 and 8) on the IPCP 505 have additional connections (RTS/CTS) which may or may not be required for any of your connected equipment. Also, the additional ports which are both Serial and/or IR only send out a serial command. Because you're mainly just telling your other pieces of equipment what to do this should be all you need. However, Com 1 -8 has transmit and receive so you would be able to get a status report from the attached equipment.

You could buy some 10 ft serial cables, cut them in half, plug one side into the 9-pin connector on one product and then strip the other end to attach to the IPCP 505. That way you'd get two serial connections from one cable.

I hope this helps! Hopefully you have the manual for the IPCP 505. You may need to search through the paperwork of all of your devices, or do an online search of RS-232 Serial pin-outs. The standard serial port connector has 9 pins but as few as two of them can be used for sending out commands. You need to find out which of the nine wires in the serial cable connect to the 2, 3, or 4 terminals on the Phoenix connectors.

Be careful when buying serial cables - make sure both ends fit into the jacks on your equipment (male or female). Also, some cables have some wire pairs flipped on one side (null modem cable vs. standard cable). To be certain you may need to use a VOM or continuity tester. Also, make sure all of the COM settings (Baud rates, etc) match at both ends or you'll have problems communicating. Sometimes you can run into problems getting serial communications to function properly, but once you do it will be rock-solid.
OP | Post 7 made on Thursday December 13, 2018 at 00:50
hunterjwizard
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That makes a lot of sense. I found several 5-terminal pheonix connectors plugged in to one of my devices, somewhere I have a bag of a dozen or so more. If I can't track that down, they appear to be commong enough, a quick search yieded plenty on amazon. I've got a mess of serial cables but can get more.

The real fun is going to come with the devices like the RGB-DVI 300, which doesn't have a full serial connector, just a 3-terminal phoenix port. If I am wiring that to a similar port on the IPCP, could I just use something like twisted pair, or just string together any sort of wire?
Post 8 made on Thursday December 13, 2018 at 02:45
davidcasemore
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On December 13, 2018 at 00:50, hunterjwizard said...
That makes a lot of sense. I found several 5-terminal pheonix connectors plugged in to one of my devices, somewhere I have a bag of a dozen or so more. If I can't track that down, they appear to be commong enough, a quick search yieded plenty on amazon. I've got a mess of serial cables but can get more.

Those plugs come in millions of sizes so good luck! I would reach out to Extron to see if they can sell you some. Or at least give you the part number (I call them Phoenix connectors but that's actually a brand name). I'm guessing that if you bought it used on Ebay or some such place they "forgot" to include the plugs.

The real fun is going to come with the devices like the RGB-DVI 300, which doesn't have a full serial connector, just a 3-terminal phoenix port. If I am wiring that to a similar port on the IPCP, could I just use something like twisted pair, or just string together any sort of wire?

It really depends on how long the run is. RS-232 wasn't designed to go long distances (usually under 10 ft but I've seen 50 ft. runs work). You could use the wire from an actual serial cable and just remove both ends. However Cat5 UTP will work just fine. If it's a 3 conductor terminal then use one twisted pair for Tx/Rx and then double up a second twisted pair for ground.
OP | Post 9 made on Thursday December 13, 2018 at 23:22
hunterjwizard
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I'm glad I checked back here! Turns out the connectors aren't nearly as standardized as I thought. A little digging confirmed that I do indeed need extron's branded connectors; they were a little annoyingly expensive, but no on ever promised professional-grade AV equipment was going to be cheap :P

I have something of an odd configuration; all of my computers are in one room, and my workstation and most of my switchers are in the other. I could conceivably move most of the switchers to the other side, but one way or the other, some things are going to have to be on the other side of the bridge(the computer monitor, for example, can't move without defeating the purpose)

I do know that serial communications over long distances are possible; so if I can't just run it over straight cat5, I'll figure something else out.

Fun project, to be sure.
OP | Post 10 made on Thursday December 20, 2018 at 01:48
hunterjwizard
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Last stupid question, I promise. The IPCP 505 manual says that the Global Configurator software(which I need to use the device) is free. However, it is stuck behind a login wall and Extron won't give me a login. Is there some other source for the software?
Post 11 made on Thursday December 20, 2018 at 21:03
davidcasemore
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When you say they won't give you a login, was this over the phone?

Did you try to register (sign-up) to have access? Once you do, you will have access to the software. You may have to create a "company" and a "reason" when you submit the online form.
OP | Post 12 made on Friday December 21, 2018 at 01:03
hunterjwizard
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I signed up and then went back and forth with both their support and sales all day long with no success, gave them a very reasonable explanation, couldn't get any traction at all. Maybe they used to be a lot freer with the logins?
Post 13 made on Friday December 21, 2018 at 02:10
davidcasemore
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I don't know what to tell you. I'm not an Extron dealer so I don't have access either. This forum isn't the best place to search for this software because nobody here uses Extron. It's more of a commercial product. You may have to Google around looking for forums which have commercial A/V members to see if you can find somebody to help.
OP | Post 14 made on Friday December 21, 2018 at 12:07
hunterjwizard
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December 2018
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Thanks for the tip, I'll try that before I go sifting about on shady torrent sites. In the meantime, they put me in touch with a reseller who seems much more reasonable.


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