Terminal Emulator hardware USB to Keyboad/Monitor



  • I was offered a Netgate SG4860 cheap, so I picked it up… just doing some planning before I convert from my PC based box.  One of the little details is if, and if so, how to use my existing Monitor (VGA) and keyboard setup (wall mount).    I had lunch with an old friend who is still working... a senior level admin for a national investment company.  He took me over to the DC to show off some new goodies.  I walked by some units that looked like older Netgate XG series (but not) that had small box plugged into the USB port that served as a dumb terminal emulator/interface providing outputs for monitor, USB and PS2 style keyboards.    It registered but I didn't really think to inquire at the time.  The box was about 4 inches long, by about 3/4 inch high and 1 inch wide.  It had a USB-A input on one end, VGA output on the other and one side had USB-A and PS2 keyboard inputs.

    Does anybody know what I'm speaking of?  If so, who makes them...?  I think this may be the easiest way to convert my pfSense physical installation in my TE closet at home.

    Thanks,
    Rick



  • I'm a bit surprised no one else had any input as to the use of the console port on the NetGate appliances other than by PC and software.  I still haven't found the boxes I saw in the data center but my research has led me to another variant… in case anyone is curious.  Briel Computers has a board level terminal emulator called the PockeTerm.  It uses a Propeller micro-controller and is update-able and somewhat programmable.  I've contacted Vince for more information.

    http://www.brielcomputers.com/wordpress/?cat=25

    Rick



  • @Ramosel:

    I'm a bit surprised no one else had any input as to the use of the console port on the NetGate appliances other than by PC and software.

    Everyone's probably trying to figure out why someone would buy a machine that has a serial console as a selling point and then attach something to it to add VGA & keyboard, instead of just buying something with VGA & keyboard. Whipping something like this up with an ARM board (raspberry pi zero even) is pretty straightforward, other than the "why" factor.



  • @VAMike:

    Everyone's probably trying to figure out why someone would buy a machine that has a serial console as a selling point and then attach something to it to add VGA & keyboard, instead of just buying something with VGA & keyboard. Whipping something like this up with an ARM board (raspberry pi zero even) is pretty straightforward, other than the "why" factor.

    Why?, the 4860 was offered for $25 from a friend who bought box full at a wholesale auction house that didn't know what they were. 
    I use an 8 port rack mount KVM for direct access to all my servers and PCs in the TE closet at home.  It has no serial console input.  When something does go wrong, I don't want to have to be hunting around for a laptop with putty to gain access.  Push a button, fix.


  • Galactic Empire



  • @Ramosel:

    Why?, the 4860 was offered for $25 from a friend who bought box full at a wholesale auction house that didn't know what they were. 
    I use an 8 port rack mount KVM for direct access to all my servers and PCs in the TE closet at home.  It has no serial console input.  When something does go wrong, I don't want to have to be hunting around for a laptop with putty to gain access.  Push a button, fix.

    I'd just plug the serial cable into one of the other machines…



  • @VAMike:

    I'd just plug the serial cable into one of the other machines…

    And in my data center, I'd fire you on the spot.

    Or since I retired early, my successor would.  Sorry, I'm not looking for "good enough".  I'm looking to keep things simple and separate.  You (rhetorical) don't go plugging things into mission critical servers and loading unnecessary software.  I still run my own systems with the same standards.

    I'm just looking for the name or source of a solution I know is out there.  I know it exists, I've seen it with my own eyes.  You may see the serial console as a selling point… obviously there are those who don't.  CiP- the newer, high end, NetGate appliances do have VGA/USB ports... probably for the very reason I bring this up - KVM/KMM access.



  • @Ramosel:

    And in my data center, I'd fire you on the spot.

    And in my data center you'd be fired for being unable to cope with a simple standard serial console. But since we're talking about a house, get a grip. Bottom line: you need a computer with a frame buffer to translate a serial signal into a console with video & keyboard. I gave you two suggestions for how to achieve that. If you don't like those ideas, you'll need to google harder.


  • Galactic Empire

    @Ramosel:

    @VAMike:

    I'd just plug the serial cable into one of the other machines…

    I'm just looking for the name or source of a solution I know is out there.  I know it exists, I've seen it with my own eyes.  You may see the serial console as a selling point… obviously there are those who don't.  CiP- the newer, high end, NetGate appliances do have VGA/USB ports... probably for the very reason I bring this up - KVM/KMM access.

    Show me a Cisco router with a VGA port !



  • @NogBadTheBad:

    Show me a Cisco router with a VGA port !

    Nah, but you'd aggregate them into a serial KVM switch with a VGA or C210 port.

    Big thanks for the heads up on the AirConsole…  that will solve an unrelated issue (convenience) in my garage/shop on the Tormach CNC

    Since I once signed contracts worth millions with Raritan, I called a contact and was put in touch with someone from their technical sales.  I described what I was looking for and they make such a device.  She is sending me a "sample".


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    The problem is the output from the 4860 isn't straight serial. It's actually a USB to Serial adapter. Most things you'd see like a multi-port serial console aggregation style box wouldn't work.

    You will need to connect to to something with a USB port and the serial drivers, plus a terminal program. As has been mentioned, it would be trivial to cook something like that up with a Pi where you have a monitor/keyboard hooked to the Pi and leave it running screen latched onto the serial port all the time. Most current distros of Linux/BSD/Windows have the drivers built in.


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