LAVA was approached by a video systems integrator who was operating a collection of televisions dispersed throughout a convention center. The televisions were controlled on their RS-232 ports. Control codes sent through the serial ports gave him basic operation of the televisions. His original design had serial cables using signal amplifiers, led back to a switchbox, which in turn went to a computer.
He was looking to reproduce his deployment in another location, and wanted a less expensive design. Ether-Serial Links gave him the ability to set up a cheaper and more flexible configuration. He was able to eliminate the signal amplifiers, and in places where the televisions were in a bank, he was able to control them with a multi-port serial device server. Doing so meant he needed fewer Ether-Serial Links, and less network cabling as well.
Many types of consumer electronics, not just televisions, are controllable on their serial ports. LAVA Ether-Serial Links make controlling those devices remotely a snap. Hobbyists have cleared many of the obstacles of out the way. The process of controlling a TV (or monitor, in the case of digital signage) is fairly straightforward, and in some cases people make freely available the code that they use to control their devices, using attractive and intuitive interfaces and full command sets.
Serial control of televisions is discussed at sites such as:
- http://www.remotecentral.com/cgi-bin/mboard/rs232-ip/list.cgi [discussion forum on TV control over RS-232 & IP]
- http://mozkey.blogspot.com/2009/03/c-samsung-tv-remote-with-serial-rs232.html [source code for Samsung TV remote control]
- http://www.veg.nildram.co.uk/remote.htm [Toshiba hobbyist, with infrared interfacing]
- http://support.gateway.com/s/Manuals/Desktops/8508947/8508947.htm [Gateway example control codes]
- http://www.kucher.org/projects/tvcontrol/ [Sony hobbyist]
- http://www.avforums.com/forums/lcd-led-lcd-tvs/607393-rs-232-control-lcd-tv-pc.html [general forum discussion]
- http://mythtvblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/controlling-sharp-aquos-tv-via-serial.html [blog on controlling Sharp Aquos: detailed]
- http://www.rdex.net/projects/lg_tv/ [hobbyist controlling an LG TV]
- http://openlgtv.org.ru/wiki/index.php/Main_Page [a wiki & forum community for modding LG TVs (European firmware)]
- http://rs232codes.com/ [article on using RS232 codes to control consumer electronic equipment]
- http://hackaday.com/2011/07/21/lg-tv-hacking-via-serial-connection-or-ir-codes/ [the hacking community especially likes playing with LG televisions, as they are Linux-based]
Here’s an interesting use for the LAVA Ether-Serial Link: as a generalized serial data format converter.
A quick search on the web shows that people have a variety of needs for converting one RS-232 data format to another, for a variety of reasons, and the solutions are usually cumbersome.
For example, one might want to connect two serial devices that communicate at different, fixed baud rates, or with different parity settings. Without converting the serial data, these devices will not communicate. Some of us remember this problem arising back in the bad old days of dial-up networking, when modems’ settings needed to be matched in parity, baud rate, data bits, parity, stop bits, and flow control settings. When they didn’t match, the communication either failed, or the data was garbled.
But at least you could set the modems to do what you wanted, if you knew what you wanted, knew how to do it, and had access to the modems (no small set of qualifications).
But at other times, the hardware you want to connect cannot be changed: the serial port settings are locked. In these situations, resolving the connectivity problem has usually meant either coding software to to do the specific job needed, or hunting down a piece of hardware to do the conversion (again, just for that specific task).
A case in point: Pete Eirikson, a Commercial Project Manager for Dakota Security Systems, Inc. contacted LAVA for a solution to an existing customer problem. They needed to get a cash register (in 7-bit mode) to communicate with a video server (in 8-bit mode) over serial, where both devices are fixed and not able to change their respective data bit sizes. The solution was to install a Lava Ether-Serial device server on each serial connection and then use our devices to convert the 7-bit data from the cash register to 8-bit data for the Dakota video server.
The Ether-Serial Links are each set in Data Connect mode, with each “pointed” at the other’s IP address and TCP port number. Because the serial ports of the two devices do not need to be set to the same port settings (they can differ on any combination of port settings in fact), the Ether-Serial Links must — and do — manage the translation between ends of the connection.
What this means is that the Ether-Serial Links can provide a transparent means of interconnecting devices with disparate serial port settings. This of course is particularly useful when the devices in question cannot have their serial port settings altered, or not altered to match each other.
A fringe benefit of this method of connecting devices in Data Connect mode is that the devices in question now also can be situated at any distance from each other, from near placement to any distance over the Internet.
In the case of converting 7-bit serial to 8-bit serial for Dakota Security Systems: problem solved.
A customer writes:
“So I want to connect up a power meter wirelessly over IP. It (the power meter) used to connect to a phone line, picked up a phone call, and sent data back. Here’s what I’m doing:
— power meter connects to LAVA POTS-to-Ethernet box
— LAVA POTS-to-Ethernet box connects to a cellular router
— I connect to the cellular router, which connects to the LAVA box, which “phones” the power meter
— then the power meter sends its data to me over IP
The setup looks like this:
The power meter thinks it’s doing what it always did: connecting to a wall phone jack.”
Intronics, a stocking distributor of connectivity products and solutions located in Barnefeld, The Netherlands, has been appointed as Lava Computer MFG. Inc.’s direct trading partner and Master Distribution Partner in Europe. For years Intronics has been a Premier Distributor for LAVA in Europe, and it now becomes a European importer of lines of I/O cards and Ethernet-to-serial device servers engineered and manufactured by LAVA.
The existing commercial relationship and long trading history between LAVA and Intronics, as well as Intronics’ extensive technical support and stocking capability were key factors in LAVA’s decision to appoint Intronics a full European stocking distributor said Bob Figol, Vice-President, Lava Computer MFG. Inc. He further went on to say “LAVA is looking forward to expanding our sales and marketing activities with Intronics in the European marketplace.”
Marc Swolfs, Managing Director, Intronics Group says he is very pleased with this step forward between the two companies. He further stated “Our customers will benefit from the tighter integration that has been created between the two companies while getting better and faster support.” Swolfs added that LAVA specializes in the design and production of computer interfaces for industrial use. Its product lines include I/O cards and Ethernet-to-serial device servers. With I/O cards, various peripheral devices can be connected to computers. Furthermore, with LAVA’s Ethernet-to-serial device servers, RS-232 industrial devices can be easily linked to local computer networks via Ethernet. Both LAVA’s I/O cards and Ethernet-to-serial device servers have a long field lives and LAVA provides a LAVA Lifetime Warranty on all their products.
Intronics B.V. was established in 1981 as a department of the TKH Group. Intronics B.V. is an innovative and fast-growing distributor, importer, and exporter of electronic and electro-mechanical components, computer supplies, and network devices.