How to Use a Rs232c Cable

Written by nichole liandi
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How to Use a Rs232c Cable
An RS-232C cable with a DB9 and a USB connector (NL Graphics)

The RS-232C cable is commonly used computer cable, but it is becoming less common as time goes on. While the RS-232C cable is easy to connect and use, it is limited in the amount of data it can transfer (256 kilobytes per second), and its maximum effective length (about 150 meters). Nonetheless, the RS-232C cable connection will be found on many older computers. Usually the serial RS-232C cable connection is used as a connection to a printer, scanner, a combination of the two devices, or as a connection to an external hard drive. Its use in personal computers is being phased out in lieu of USB interfaces and cables.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • RS-232C cable
  • computers or peripherals with RS-232 cable connections

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  1. 1

    The RS-232C cable is a shielded cable with a male multi-pin connector on both ends (although there are some variations with a standardised multi-pin connector on one end and a proprietary connector on the other). The RS-232C is a "serial" cable, designed for transfer of data through a computer's serial port. The serial port on a computer will always be a female multi-pin connection, of which the DB-15 is the most common (a trapezoidal jack, with two rows of pin inputs, totalling 15). Before installing, be sure the cable you have matches the inputs you wish to connect it to.

    How to Use a Rs232c Cable
    An RS-232C cable with a DB9 and a USB connector (NL Graphics)
  2. 2

    Insert the plug of the cable into the port on the computer you're connecting it to. Be sure that you insert the plug straight in, so that the pins don't get bent. Push in firmly until the cable is seated securely. Then twist the thumb screws on either side of the cable's plug clockwise to hold the cable securely in place.

  3. 3

    Attach the other end of the cable to the device you're connecting. As noted before, there are a number of different connectors that may be on the other end of a RS-232C cable, including USB connections and proprietary printer plugs. Connect the cable as appropriate for the usage in question.

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