Usb Console Cable: All You Need To Know

USB Console Cable is used for the serial connection between your computer’s serial port and the console port on your TP-Link switch or router to access the CLI (Command Line Interface) of the device.

Usb Console Cable

Every Cisco router or switch has a console port (also known as the management port) on its backside.  

A console port is used to connect a computer directly to a router or switch and manage the router or switch since there is no display device for a router or switch.

The console port must be used initially to install routers onto because there is no network connection initially to connect using SSH, HTTP, or HTTPS.

Normally router console port is a RJ45 port.

What is a Console Cable?

USB Console cables — also known as Cisco cables, rollover cables, and management cables — are designed for a specific purpose.

They connect Cisco networking devices to terminals or PCs for configuration.

Typically, the Cisco end will connect via RJ45, and the terminal end will conclude in a serial connection.

What matters most about console cables is the specific nature of the connection. This is not an Ethernet or networking connection.

 It is a terminal connection, and its purpose is to enable the connected computer to configure the networking device.

This is true for older Cisco equipment and brand-new devices. The configuration is performed through the serial connection.

USB Console Cable: Connectivity

Cisco has now given us the ability to connect our laptops to the USB ports for console access.

Cisco has added USB Type-B ports to their devices and these ports can be used as a console cable.

Usb Console Cable

You will need three things to get this working.

1) A device that uses this type of USB Type-B port

2) A USB Type A to 5-pin mini Type-B cable

3) A driver from Cisco to make this work with your laptop operating system

You still need to install a driver on your laptop to use the USB interface as a serial communications port.

Don’t worry that this link shows the download location for 3900 ISR G2 routers.

The same utility works for the entire ISR-G2 line.

The latest version of the USB Console Software is version 3.1 The filename of the software is “Cisco_usbconsole_driver_3_1.zip” and the current version was release on Jan 20, 2010 with a file size of 14692.83 KB (15045453 bytes).

Currently, Cisco has USB console drivers for the following operating systems:

  • Windows 2000, Windows XP 32- and 64-bit, Windows Vista 32- and 64-bit
  • Mac OS X version 10.5.4
  • Redhat / Fedora Core 10 with kernel 2.6.27.5-117
  • Ubuntu 8.10 with kernel 2.6.27-11
  • Debian 5.0 with kernel 2.6
  • Suse 11.1 with kernel 2.6.27.7-9

Once you install the driver you need to create a connection using your favorite terminal emulation software. 

My favorite one happens to be SecureCRT from VanDyke. You need to set the terminal emulator to use the proper COM port that is being used by the USB port on your laptop.

Then you set the serial communications to the old-reliable standard: 9600 baud, 8 data bits, no parity, and 1 stop bit, no flow control.

However, I have been told that these console ports can be run up to 12Mbps but the baud rate of the serial port can only go as high as 115,200 bps.

That could have come in handy many moons ago when I had to upload IOS files using XMODEM.

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What Are the Primary Kinds of Console Cables?

Console cables come in many shapes and sizes and with a variety of connector types.

There are three that are used more commonly than the rest, mostly because of the frequency with which you will see these different connectors.

Usb Console Cable

RJ45 to DB9

A RJ45 to DB9 is probably the most well-known console cable today.

Once upon a time, console cables were connected with improvised “kits” that were little more than a string of adapters on the end of a serial cable.

Today, you can get an RJ45 to DB9 cable that replaces the “kit” with a single cord. As the name implies, one end is RJ45 and the other is DB9.

This is the most direct serial connection available, and it comes packaged with a wide variety of Cisco devices.

It’s something of a standard, but despite that, it’s designed to communicate with terminals that have the DB9 port.

If you want to connect it to a PC or laptop, you’ll likely need an additional adapter between the DB9 end and your USB port.

USB A to Mini-B

Another common console cable, the CAB-CONSOLE-USB, connects the USB on a terminal to a mini-B port on the Cisco device.

You’ll notice the lack of RJ45 connectors. This is a specialized cable that services smaller, often portable devices.

Despite the connection pieces, this is still a “serial” cable that enables terminal communication.

USB to RJ45

The CAB-CONSOLE-USB-RJ45 is arguably the most modern console cable. It ditches the less-used DB9 connector and streamlines your communication.

It goes seamlessly from the console port on the Cisco device to a standard USB port on a PC.

It’s the simplest way to create a terminal connection with modern equipment, and it is not a standard inclusion in Cisco hardware packages.

A handful of these cables can make network control substantially faster and easier.

That is what you need to know about console cables.

In the past, networking staff had to waste valuable time finding creative ways to bridge connections and configure devices.

With modern console cables, that time is saved and networking is that much easier.

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