Anyone know about using CAT5 as a serial cable?

Discussion in 'Computer Support' started by Andy, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Andy

    Andy Guest

    I've just started a new job repairing a type of thermal transfer barcode
    printer that is used a lot in manufcturing and transport, and as a result,
    they are often located in factories or warehouses and use a serial interface
    back to some sort of distribution board (like a Stalion card).

    The ones with the older kind of shielded 5 core cable, with the DB25 or 9
    connector hard wired I don't have problems with, but I have noticed a lot of
    places use these small RJ45 to DB25 converters on either end and use a
    standard network cable between them. These ones sometimes (seem to) have
    intermittant flow control problems.

    1- Large print job gets sent.
    2- Printer starts, gets to a certain point and stops (can lock up).
    3- Host thinks the job has printed.

    What is the limitation on the length? CAT5, being unshielded, I would
    suppose be more subject to "noise", especialy if the TX and RX lines were
    not on a pair together.

    Any clues?
    Andy, Feb 16, 2004
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  2. Andy

    -= Hawk =- Guest

    100 Meters.
    Run shielded cable or run them through a shielded conduit.
    And see what kind of machinery the cables running near....
    -= Hawk =-, Feb 16, 2004
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  3. Andy

    Andy Guest

    I'm pretty sure that 100 meters only applies when it is used as a network
    cable which relies on synchronized signals going in opposing directions down
    a pair of wires. The RS-232C standard is only 50 feet ,athough of course in
    practise it can be much more, 100m would be a VERY long serial cable, but
    would probably work with shieled cable and a slow baud.
    Yup. I think I'm going to have to prove the point.

    Trouble is I have 2 deal with sysadmins who INSIST that thier system is good
    and it must be MY printer gobbeling up their perfectly good data.
    They use these things in places like chocolate factorys, steel mills,
    textiles, frieght depo's, jewelers, chemical plants, car factories, .......
    to name a few - they print stuff like those little barcodes on the back of a
    mobile phone. So - all kinds of machinery.
    Andy, Feb 16, 2004
  4. Andy

    -= Hawk =- Guest

    I've seen multi-hundred foot RS-232 cables plenty of times.
    We borrowed one from a place a friend used to work for to
    null modem his mom's PC to her sons BBS in the cellar
    it worked fine.
    Have them buy a new printer and put it in place, if the
    problems persist, and they probably will, you can laugh
    behind your hand at them....
    Oh I know, I spent a couple years running Weber Legitronic Highspeed
    thermal barcode printers creating Mil-Spec label formats and such. What
    I meant was 'machinery that would cause a large amount of electrical
    interference. If you're dealing with a decent printer company you might
    be able to get one of their tech reps out to advise you on the problem.
    I had the Weber guy out a couple times trying to get some issues
    -= Hawk =-, Feb 16, 2004
  5. Andy

    Andy Guest

    Yep - exactly the same machines except branded Zebra (seen them as Brady
    also) - some of them are built into Weber print and apply engines.
    Zebra give pretty good email supprt, but with stuff like this they tend to
    just quote the user manuale back at you.
    The last time I was working on printers was 1986 ie. pre CAT5 revolution and
    I wasn't sure of it's limitations. It looks a lot easier to set up this way
    though. I hate soldering serial connectors, but I think I'm gunna have to
    buy some good shielded cable and make a few cables (and then charge like a
    wounded bull if the problem goes away).
    Andy, Feb 16, 2004
  6. Andy

    -= Hawk =- Guest

    Weird, according to Weber the Zebra's just a model of theirs...
    I guess times change....
    I also had to ancient 9 pin C.itoh printers doing ribbon feed labels :)
    Good luck....
    -= Hawk =-, Feb 16, 2004
  7. Andy

    Andy Guest

    Andy, Feb 17, 2004
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