Typical use cases
You can use Tcp Com Bridge to solve different problems. Below you can read about most typical use cases.
1. Convert a computer into a serial device server with multiple ports.
A serial device server (sometimes also referred to as a “terminal server”) is a hardware device that lets you connect various devices with the digital serial interface (controllers, lab equipment, industrial sensors, barcode scanners, etc.) to the Ethernet network, and enables data exchange with them via a TCP/IP port.
Tcp Com Bridge fulfills the same function, only using a Windows computer with COM ports. You can configure Tcp Com Bridge to handle multiple COM ports (up to 256 ports). For each COM port, a separate TCP/IP port will be used in the server or client mode.
By using an ordinary computer and Tcp Com Bridge, you can save a lot on hardware.
For example, a special-purpose server with 16 ports (a standard industrial configuration) costs about $2000. If you buy a computer (with a built-in network adapter, hard drive, etc.) for $500, and a PCI or PCI-E input-output card for 16 ports for $500, you can save about $1000. To save even more money, you can
a. Use RS232-USB converters (you can connect multiple converters to a modern computer).
b. Use an existing computer instead of buying a new one.
Moreover, while Tcp Com Bridge is running in background mode, you can use that computer for doing other things, not only as a terminal server.
Unlike most hardware terminal servers, Tcp Com Bridge lets you simultaneously create multiple TCP/IP connections. You can use Tcp Com Bridge to build fail-safe systems, as it can monitor the state of connection, reconnect after a loss of connection, and also buffer data while no connection is available.
2. Send data over a TCP/IP network from applications that can normally work with COM ports only.
Say, a legacy application can use COM ports only. By using two copies of Tcp Com Bridge, you can transmit data over many miles instead of over several feet. One copy will be operating as a terminal server on the remote computer, and the other copy as a client on the computer running the legacy application. The data will be transmitted over the TCP/IP network, but the legacy application will “think” that it works with a COM port.
3. Use a remote computer’s COM port as if it were a local COM port.
Say, you need to receive data from a device connected to a COM port on another computer in your local network. To do that, configure Tcp Com Bridge as a terminal server on the remote computer. Then you can either receive data on your computer via TCP/IP (for example, using the Hyperterminal), or install a second copy of Tcp Com Bridge on your computer and configure the program as a client, also creating a virtual COM port. In that case, you can exchange data with a remote COM port via the local COM port.
4. Use a local network or the Internet instead of using a cable connection.
Run Tcp Com Bridge as a TCP/IP server on one computer, and configure the program to use an existing COM port. Then run a second copy of Tcp Com Bridge as a TCP/IP client, and configure it to connect to the first copy. The second copy must also use the existing COM port. In that case, all data incoming to the COM port on Computer #1 will pass through the first copy of Tcp Com Bridge, the network cable, the second copy of Tcp Com Bridge, and then will go out through the COM port on Computer #2. Data can also go the other way. The advantage of using such connection is that you can simultaneously send data to multiple computers.
5. Split the data from an existing COM port into several COM ports.
Windows usually doesn’t allow opening one and the same serial port by more than one application. Tcp Com Bridge lets you bypass that limitation. In this case, you are using one copy of Tcp Com Bridge with several connections configured. One connection works in the TCP/IP server mode with a physical COM port. The other connections work in the client mode, establishing a connection with the TCP/IP server and creating virtual COM ports. Say, you can split the physical port COM1 into two or more virtual COM ports (for example, COM10 and COM11). You can also configure the system in such a way that data from COM1 is sent to COM10 and COM11, but transmission in the other direction goes only through COM10.
6. Redirect a TCP/IP port.
Configure two connections in Tcp Com Bridge. Connection #1 should work as a TCP/IP server and create a virtual COM port. Connection #2 should also be configured as a TCP/IP server, but using a different TCP/IP port. Note that Connection #2 must use the port created by Connection #1 (not to create another virtual COM port). In this case, two TCP/IP ports are connected via one virtual COM port.