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Guide to Serial Cables

Serial Cable : What is it?

Serial Cables

Serial cables connect different devices to computers or other devices with a similar interface. They are used in many computer peripherals such as printers, scanners, and external storage. They send data one bit at a time through one wire, and receive data at the same rate through another. The ends can be any combination of male and female connectors in 9-pin or 25-pin configurations. Current standards set a maximum cable length of 50 feet. 

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Types of Serial Cables

Serial CablesSerial Cables

Kinds of Serial Cables include the following:

Modem cables

  • Modem cables have pins wired straight through, meaning the pins on both connectors have identical functions.
  • They are designed to connect data terminal equipment (DTE) to data terminal equipment (DTE).
  • The most common example is computer to modem connection, where the computer is the DTE and the modem is the DCE.


Null modem cables

  • Null modem cables are used for two DTE devices, such as computer-to-computer connections.
  • The pin wires are usually crosslinked and designed to allow full or partial handshakes between the two devices.


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Choosing Serial Cables (Buying tips)

Insulation: Choose a serial cable with a PVC or plastic insulating cover to protect the wiring. Make sure the cover is thick but lightweight, and does not easily fray or tear.

Cable length: Choose a serial cable that is long enough to provide mobility, but does not cause clutter. Six- to ten-foot cables are usually sufficient for desktop applications.

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