Have you had the occasion to need multiple DB9 connectors (for example) on a serial connection? Of course you can always build your own, but in the spirit of making things just a bit easier, take a look at the DB product family from L-Com. This page in and of itself could make your day.
The number of devices that use serial communications rather than IP and Ethernet is shrinking rapidly, but there are still plenty of serial devices around: transmitters, RDS units, SCA generators, legacy EAS equipment, microwave radios, satellite receivers and Layer 2 LAN switches and routers. Generally one would communicate with these devices via that same network, but if the network is down, you're back to the serial port. You also might find very convenient (if you have a computer workstation that lives at the transmitter site) to simply install an old school mechanical serial switch. Search "DB9 switch" and you'll come up with multiple sources. Also check your local electronic surplus or computer repair shop.
Legacy serial-only devices can sometimes exist on an IP network as well. Several years ago we installed three new air conditioners at our backup transmitter site, each of which had a network connection. However, their common control only had a serial connection. I found a company that made the device I needed, which is a serial-to-Ethernet converter. There are multiple sources, but I use B&B Electronics, which also makes a lot of other useful stuff.
I suppose the next step up, combining the ideas of serial-to-Ethernet conversion, along with the serial input switcher, would be a device that did both. I found one from Network Technologies.
Personal computing equipment keeps moving along rapidly in terms of its capabilities, and serial has seemingly been left behind. It's still important in terms of broadcast and IT hardware though. Keep that in mind when working with your IT department or otherwise upgrading your own personal equipment.
Irwin is transmission systems supervisor for Clear Channel NYC and chief engineer of WKTU, New York. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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