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How to use the Vault’s COM port
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.
For users who do not have a DB9 port on their computer: we offer our Protectli USB COM Port here. Necessary drivers should be automatically installed for Windows and Linux when connected, and are provided by FTDI. The adapter is based on the high quality FTDI FT232 chipset.
Additionally we have confirmed the following USB C to RJ45 serial cables work:
OIKWAN – (link)
Moyina – (link)
Cable Matters – (link)
USB C to RS232 DB9 adapter – (link)
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 Pin||DB9 Pin||Signal|
Vault Pro Series USB COM Port (VP2400/VP4600 Series)
Serial application settings remain the same as above – Speed 115200.
For Windows 10/11, linked below are the latest WHQL drivers supplied by Fintek. We have noticed system instability with the driver supplied by Windows update, the drivers below seemed to have resolve this issue.
Driver Install Instructions
- Download driver above and unzip into desired location
- Attach COM cable to PC and Vault
- Open “Device Manager” and navigate to “Ports (COM & LPT)”
- Right Click on “Fintek USB-to-Serial” and select “Update Driver”
- Select “Browse my computer for drivers”
- Under “Search for drivers in this location:” Browse to the location of the unzipped driver
- Select the top level folder named “F81232_230522_whql_2” and click ‘OK’
- Verify “Include Subfolders” is selected and then click “Next”
- The you should then see confirmation of successful driver install
- A restart may be required to complete the driver install
- Verify the latest driver is now installed by again right clicking on the “Fintek Usb-to-Serial” device and selecting “Properties”, then the tab titled “Driver”
- Driver Provider: Fintek USB2COM
- Driver Date: 5/22/2023
- Driver Version: 18.104.22.168
Ubuntu/Debian should have the drivers included, otherwise here is a (link) to the available driver (USB to Serial Port (F81532A/F81534A/F81535/F81536)) along with build instructions.
Unfortunately Fintek does not offer Mac driver support at this time.
*Note: When using the VP2420 with coreboot BIOS, expand the size of the PuTTy window for the best functionality.*
If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out by opening a support ticket: https://protectli.com/submit-ticket/