COM port redirector - software and hardware approaches

Olga Weis

It would seem that serial devices like a printer, a CNC machine, an industrial controller, and a barcode scanner have nothing in common but there’s one thing that definitely unites them all and it’s the way the equipment communicates with a computer. Devices of this kind talk to a PC via RS232, RS485, or RS422 serial cable. Remote connection is also possible, though for a massive chunk of people this task is associated with all sorts of trouble and confusion.

Sure enough: it’s not easy to reach your remote serial peripheral from a remote computer unless you have a reliable tool that will do it for you.

Whether you need to access a remote device across LAN, Ethernet, or the Internet, there are two common options available: a hardware serial port redirector and COM redirector software. Which one to choose is up to you. But before you make your choice, let’s explore some advantages and disadvantages of each solution.

Contents

  1. COM redirector software
  2. Step-by-step guide
  3. Hardware solution to redirect serial ports
  4. Setup guide

FlexiHub: the software tool to redirect serial port over network


General description: FlexiHub is a desktop app that holds a special place among software COM port redirectors available today. The program can easily connect your PC to a remote serial device no matter the distance between them. FlexiHub’s user base is largely made up of folks who need to redirect COM port over Ethernet, WIFI, or the Internet fast and securely. The nice thing about the app is that it protects all communications with advanced traffic encryption, so you don’t have to worry that your sensitive data will be lost or intercepted.

FlexiHub

Windows, macOS, Linux, Android
4.8 Rank based on 78+ users
In addition to serial peripherals, FlexiHub can easily share USB devices as well. With the solution, you’ll have no problem redirecting your devices to a virtual environment.
FlexiHub

FlexiHub is fully compatible with VMWare, ESX, Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft Hyper-V, Windows Virtual PC, and QEMU virtualization software.

The software is extremely simple to install and use. This is how it works:

  1. First of all, you'll need to register a FlexiHub account.
  2. After that, start a free trial to be able to connect to remote serial devices.
  3. Install the software on each of your computers that need access to the serial device.
  4. Next, start FlexiHub and enter your login credentials on the PC with the device physically attached.
  5. Do the same for a remote machine that needs shared access.
  6. After that, in the FlexiHub window on the remote computer you find the device, click “Connect”, and bam — the remote device is recognized like plugged in directly to your computer!

One more thing that makes FlexiHub a really great COM port redirector is the speed of connections. The app’s traffic compression feature allows transmitting serial data significantly faster. Users find this especially helpful when interacting with certain types of devices which originally communicate data in an uncompressed format.

On top of that, if two users are logged into the same account, they can start communicating with comments and reactions via a convenient FlexiChat - one of the latest improvements to the program. FlexiChat is available in the Windows version of the app.

Hardware tools to redirect COM port to TCP network


Description: A typical hardware serial redirector is a compact electronic device able to transform serial data signals (either RS232, RS485 or RS422) to Ethernet IP/TCP packets and backwards. The hardware is most commonly referred to as “serial to Ethernet converter”. This type of redirectors is rather easy to use and set up.

The problem? Port limitation. The number of ports that a converter can share is fixed and often ranges from 1 to 20.

Serial Port Redirector

How it works: The inbuilt circuitry allows hardware redirectors to convert serial data into IP/TCP packets and vice versa.

How to set up: When you buy a hardware COM port redirector, it usually comes with a driver called virtual COM software. This software needs to be first installed on your PC.

  • Once installed, the program will be able to create a virtual COM port in the Device Manager of your computer when the serial redirector is connected to your machine.
  • Next logical step is to connect the hardware to your computer via a standard serial cable (normally included in the hardware box).
  • After that you link your converter to a power supply, type the IP of the hardware in the address bar of your browser, and click Enter.
  • To set up the converter you should use a static IP address assigned to your own computer.