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'[EE] Serial over Ethernet options'
2012\05\23@101126 by Denny Esterline

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As the title implies, I'm looking for some serial over Ethernet solutions.

Skipping some of the messier details, I have a few hundred devices in the
field that need to have some config options changed. Normally this is done
via rs232 connection to a PC -it's a little more complicated now that
they're in customer hands in 28 different states. So, I can put a tech to
work for the next year and really rack up his frequent flyer miles or I can
find a connectivity solution and do it remotely.

What I'd like to be able to do is send the customer a "black box", have
them plug it into their network and my device and give me a call. Using a
similar unit at my location, we have serial access to a PC in my office. I
realize that having that happen seamlessly and without the customer
configing it to their network and being able to connect to it from my end
without even knowing what subnet it's going to end up on is a tall order...
How close can we come? :-)


-Denn

2012\05\23@101917 by Harrison Cooper

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Are you sending them and having the customer keep them, or returning them back to you...these black boxes.  If you are getting them returned, then maybe think about a cell modem with a serial connection.  This way, the only thing you need to make sure of is that there is cell coverage from your service provider of choice.

Otherwise, you might run into problems of getting access to your box over the network, if they have it closed off to outside traffic.  Then someone has to set things up at the customer site to allow you to get in.



{Original Message removed}

2012\05\23@102504 by Denny Esterline

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They'd be returning them.
Cellular is definitely an acceptable alternative. Again, it's not a
landscape I'm familiar with - what options are there in that arena?



On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 7:19 AM, Harrison Cooper <spam_OUTHCooperTakeThisOuTspamfusionio.com>wrote:

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> {Original Message removed}

2012\05\23@103640 by Kerry Wentworth

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If you know in advance what needs to be changed, you could simply put a PIC, an EEPROM and a MAX232 in the black box, and have it make the changes automatically.  If you need to make decisions based on data that is in the machine, you could rig up a simple audio modem and talk to it through any phone.

Kerry


Denny Esterline wrote:
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2012\05\23@103748 by Matt Bennett

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On Wed, May 23, 2012 9:25 am, Denny Esterline wrote:
> They'd be returning them.
> Cellular is definitely an acceptable alternative. Again, it's not a
> landscape I'm familiar with - what options are there in that arena?

The real issue is security.  There is a telnet demo in the Microchip
Ethernet stack- but telnet is really just opening up a raw TCP socket on
the well-known telnet port.  This allows you to transfer data 2 ways- but
the data is completely unencrypted, out in the open, with essentially
trivial authentication and the password in plaintext. With telnet, you
would be able to easily access the device, but *SO WOULD ANYONE ELSE WITH
AN INTERNET CONNECTION*

It is virtually universal for firewalls to block incoming requests on the
telnet port (by default).

If you want a moderate level of protection/authentication and wide
accessibility, consider running your interface over SSL over http.

Matt Bennett
Just outside of Austin, TX
30.51,-97.91

The views I express are my own, not that of my employer, a large
multinational corporation that you are familiar with

2012\05\23@104203 by Charles Craft

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Mail them a laptop (loaner) that has the RS-232 cabling attached.
Connect to the laptop via pcAnywhere, GoToMyPC or Webex and use a terminal emulator to change the config.

chuckc



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2012\05\23@104400 by Charles Craft

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With most companies having digital phone systems now, modems are anything but simple. :-)



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2012\05\23@105112 by Yigit Turgut
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You can handle the TCP/IP part seamlessly with a 18FJ9760 using
Microchip's stack. Stack supports DHCP thus your customer just plugs
the device  and you are on air. Interfacing 18FJ9760 to a MAX232
sounds like a solution to me.

On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 5:11 PM, Denny Esterline <.....desterlineKILLspamspam.....gmail.com> wrote:
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2012\05\23@112610 by Kerry Wentworth

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Even digital phone systems pass sound.  I'm talking about a speaker and a microphone held up to a telephone handset.  300 baud stuff.  Should be plenty. And simple.  Customer dials phone.

Kerry


Charles Craft wrote:
> With most companies having digital phone systems now, modems are anything but simple. :-)
>
>
>
> {Original Message removed}

2012\05\23@112733 by Bob Ammerman

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If the "black box" can layer the RS232 over HTTP then you probably wouldn't need any fancy
configuration at the customer site. You may actually be able to find such a tool.

-- Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems

{Original Message removed}

2012\05\23@121538 by Denny Esterline

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This is the kind of thing I'm hoping for, any specific suggestions?
Cellular is certainly appealing...


As to the 300 baud audio suggestions made by others... Thanks but not
really an option. I said "config options" but that actually includes about
1Mb of PLC ladder logic software.

And a special thank you to those suggesting I could do it with a PIC. Don't
get me wrong, I love PICs, but I'm looking to throw (someone else's) money
at a solution, not pick up another project for myself. :-)

On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 8:27 AM, Bob Ammerman <EraseMEpicramspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTroadrunner.com> wrote:

> If the "black box" can layer the RS232 over HTTP then you probably wouldn't
> need any fancy
> configuration at the customer site. You may actually be able to find such a
> tool.
>
> -- Bob Ammerman
> RAm Systems
>
> {Original Message removed}

2012\05\23@131212 by Bob Ammerman

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I googled the magic string:

remote serial over http

And got many hits that look like what you need.

The advantage of this scheme is that at least one end of the link look to its network environment like just another PC using a browser to access the internet. Few networks will restrict that type of access.

-- Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems

{Original Message removed}

2012\05\23@181952 by Chris Roper

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The Telit Modules are good if you want a GSM solution.
They have a micro on board that you could create the interface code
and they have a Python interpreter too for quick solutions.
A Telit Module, max232, 3V8 PSU and antenna is all you need in the box.
Get your Service Provider to give you a unique APN and you have secure
end to end serial communications.

Cheers
Chri

2012\05\23@215546 by Brent Brown

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For an off the sheIf solution look for "industrial 3G cellular router", "M2M serial modem" or similar. Surprising how many there are around once you know what you're looking for.

I've used several of the NetComm range, designed and built in Australia AFAIK. This one probably will do all you require but not one I've used:

http://www.netcommwireless.com/product/m2m/ntc-4000

Just throw a SIM card in it (on a data plan, with a provider that offers service in the geographical regions you require it to be sent to), and with a little bit of configuration the device takes care of the hard work of connecting through the interweb. In my case I've used the more expensive routers with Ethernet to create a mini network of vaious hardware device, PC, PLC, etc. each of which I can access over the interweb, but they certainly also provide an RS232 port that can be used to do exactly what you want.

These routers have support for several different DDNS clients (paid or free)... use it so when your device connects and is given a public IP address it resolves to a name you assign it. eg. mydevicespamspam_OUTdyndns.org, @spam@mydeviceKILLspamspamno-ip.com, etc. Tricks are the SIM card must allow for a public IP dynamic address, and the service provider must not block any incoming connection requests (usually the provider offers several APN's with different features) and you then manage all firewalling yourself in the config of the router (poke holes in the firewall just where you went them).

Telnet is one way of getting your serial data flowing across the interweb, but I'm not a real expert on this part sorry... I've dabbled and got things working once or twice that's about all. Yes the Telnet port is a known port and not secure, but in your case it's only open when the device is on (only while your servicing session is in progress, not a daily event hopefully), the public IP address is random (that is the IP addres is dynamic and may change between sessions but you know what it is because the DDNS client resolves it to a URL that only you know and don't necessarily share with anyone), and the protocol of the RS232 data that flows back and forth is also proprietary to your product.. all meaning that any attack on your embedded system(s) in hte field would require a very targeted and concerted effort possibly with inside knowledge.

Does that help and/or confuse? :-)

Brent.

On 23 May 2012 at 7:11, Denny Esterline wrote:

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2012\05\23@222852 by Brent Brown

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On 24 May 2012 at 13:55, Brent Brown wrote:

> These routers have support for several different DDNS clients (paid or free)... use it
> so when your device connects and is given a public IP address it resolves to a
> name you assign it. eg. KILLspammydeviceKILLspamspamdyndns.org, RemoveMEmydeviceTakeThisOuTspamno-ip.com, etc.

Oops, the examples above weren't supposed to be email addresses. Should have written eg. mydevice.dyndns.com, mydevice.no-ip.com
DynDns and No-Ip are a couple of well known DNS providers.

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