How to use the Vault’s COM port

Last Updated On March 27, 2019
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Several models the Vault come with an external COM port that can be used to view the Vault’s console output.  This COM port is simply a redirect from the Vault’s display output (whether HDMI or VGA).  Importantly, this output is used before an operating system boots, giving the user the ability to use the COM port instead of the VGA or HDMI ports for things like adjusting BIOS settings (if needed).

Connecting to the COM port is relatively simple.  Given that there aren’t many computers with COM ports these days, you’ll want to make sure you have a USB to Serial adapter (like this), as well as the serial cable that was supplied with your Vault.  Plug your serial port adapter into your computer.  If you’re running Windows 10, drivers should not be an issue. For the pinout of the COM port, see the table at the bottom of this article.

Note: For users who do not have a DB9 port on their computer, instead of using the supplied Serial RJ45 to DB-9F connector as well as a serial to USB converter, you can use a direct USB to serial RJ45 converter (like this).

By default, the Vault’s serial port is enabled, so out of the box, you can connect the RJ45 end of the blue serial port to the port labeled “COM” on the Vault.  Be sure not to plug the COM port RJ45 into any of the Vault’s network ports.

You also need to know what COM port your USB to serial adapter connects to.  This can be found in the Windows Device Manager (Start –> Settings –> Search for ‘device manager’).  Refer to the image below for where to find which COM port you need to use.  In this example, we are using COM3.

On your computer, you’ll need to use extra software in order to access the COM port.  In Windows, Putty (available here) is a popular choice.  Download, install, and open Putty.  You will find yourself at a screen that looks similar to the following.

First, click “Serial” under “Connection Type”, then adjust your “Serial Line” as necessary.    Next, change the “Speed” to be “115200” (this is the default value the Vault is set to).

Next, click “Open” and you will see a blank terminal window open.  Power on your Vault and you should start to see the equivalent of the VGA or HDMI output appear in the console window.

If you wish to access the Vault’s BIOS, you can do so by repeatedly clicking the <DEL> key as the Vault boots.  You should see a screen that looks like the following (note that the below screenshot actually shows COM port 4, not 3).

If the COM port is not communicating, it may be because “Console Redirection” is not enabled in the BIOS. To verify that “Console Redirection” is enabled, do the following (note that you would need to connect a USB Keyboard and VGA or HDMI enabled monitor to your Vault in order to enable serial).

  • Enter BIOS as described above by pressing the “Delete” key during boot.
  • Verify the BIOS Main Screen appears.

BIOS Main Screen

  • Select “Advanced” Tab and use the Down Arrow Key to select “Serial Port Console Redirection”

BIOS Advanced Tab

  • Select “Serial Port Console Redirection” and verify the screen is displayed.

BIOS Console Redirection Enabled

  • Select “Console Redirection” and verify that it is enabled.
  • Save and Exit BIOS (F4).
  • Verify the COM port session is now working.

COM Port Pinout

The pinout for the COM Port and RJ-45 to DB9 cable is shown in the table below. On the Vault, pin #1 of the COM port is the rightmost pin when looking at the port.  On the DB9 side of the cable, pin #1 is the upper right pin of the 5 pins when looking into the connector end.

Console Port (DTE)RJ-45 PinDB9 PinSignal
TX32RX
GND4--
GND55GND
RX63TX

If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out by opening a support ticket: http://protectli.com/submit-ticket/