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Messages - K5WA

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Establishing a WS-1216H serial connection for a PLC (remote end) and Touch Panel (control end).

Basic setup of the WS-1216H is mostly in the manual but I felt the manual lacked a good step by step overview to guide me as a newby.  This note tries to fill in the holes but is not meant to cover things that are in the manual already.  This is a first draft so I can remember what Iíve done (now that I see it working) but if things are not clear, ask me questions and Iíll be glad to answer.  I can use those answers to further refine this note for future revisions.
Iím assuming this process works for any other serial device which does NOT use software on the control end to operate the remote PLC (or other serial device) but I have only tried my PLC and panel.  The WS-1216H normally expects software to be used on the control end but I wanted to use my touch panel instead of software since Iíve invested a lot of time programming it and didnít want to ďre-invent the wheelĒ.  That control end software can simply use the virtual serial port established by connecting the WS-1216H and using the Microbit Setup Manager to make the virtual port.  In my case, I wanted to use my existing Touch panel AutomationDirect C-More micro 6Ē panel) to communicate with my remote PLC ( Click family).  I was not able to find enough information in the Microbit manuals to make this work so I have been experimenting until I figured it out by trial and error (Iím REALLY determined to get my remote station running!).  It makes sense now that I figured it out but I sure never saw it explained like Iím trying to do with this note.
Here is my laymanís description of what I found works.  This is probably obvious to all network/software engineers but it has taken lots of experimentation for a serial port newby like me to make this work by trial and error.

1)   The WS-1216H needs to have Microbit Setup Manager running on both the remote and control ends.  The serial port tab of Setup Manager establishes a virtual COM port.  They donít have to be the same (e.g. remote could be COM 4 and control could be COM 2).  On the serial port tab of Setup Manager, pressing the SAVE button should result in the ďInstalledĒ message in the status window.  Hitting REFRESH breaks that so I assume REFRESH is meant to be used when you want to change the COM port for any reason.
2)   The webpage for the WS-1216H needs to have a unique port to access the page and a second port for the serial communication.  You cannot use the standard web browser port 80 for either one.  To access the WS-1216H on the same LAN as it is located, you must use its IP address appended with the HTTP port number.  In my case, that was  When viewing the remote WS-1216H from the control site, you use the DDNS host name appended with the port number.  You must also open the port you choose on both the remote and control end routers.  For example, if you chose port 1181 for the HTTP browser access and port 1182 for the serial connection, both of those ports need to be opened in your routers.
3)   You will need a NULL MODEM cable on the remote end or you can swap the RXD/TXD wires in the optional DB9 dongle sold by Microbit.
4)   The remote end connects to the PLC directly via the remote LAN once you fill in the LAN address (using Setup Manager), fill in the port you choose and set up the serial parameters (speed, stop bits, parity).  At this point, you should be able to access the WS-1216H with a browser on this LAN.  You now need to go to the DDNS setup of the WS-1216H page and make sure the DDNS is turned on. The remote end is done.
5)   On the control end, use the Microbit Setup manager to establish a virtual serial port by going to the remote PCís Microbit Setup Managerís Serial port tab and chose a serial port (for example you might chose COM2).  Then enter the DDNS URL and port number (1182 in this example) so that the control knows where to look for the remote end.  No need to set serial parameters (speed, stop bits, parity).  At this point, you should see that the WS-1216Hís webpage ďSystem InfoĒ tab shows that you are connected to the remote.  There should be TXD and RXD numbers shown and zero (or very few) RXD errors.  As a test, move to the Set Relays menu to try turning relays off and on.  Youíre almost there if the relays work.
6)   Now you connect your Touch Panel (or whatever serial connected device you have) to the control computer with a serial connection.  Use Device Manager to see which COM port opens.  Letís say it is COM27 for this example.  You now have COM2 and COM27 established but they have no way of communicating at the moment since they are not connected/bridged.
7)   Install a virtual serial port emulator to build a communication bridge between COM2 and COM27 (or whichever COM ports you show in Device Manager).  I use the free VSPE (Virtual Serial Port Emulator) software which has a bridge option.  Step through the bridge setup to establish COM2 with speed, stops bits, parity to match your panel.  Mine was 38400, 1, N.  Press the TEST button and it will say connected if properly done.  Now do the same for COM27 (your panelís COM port).   
8)   You should now be able to control your remote PLC with the CONTROL Panel.  If not, double check your serial port settings throughout the chain to make sure they all match.  I made a mistake on mine and had 2 stop bits instead of 1 in a couple of places and it didnít work.  If they all match, it works well. 

1   You purchased the optional serial pigtail (or made one) for the WS-1216H
2   You have set up the WS-1216H on your LAN and have seen it function.
3   Your serial device simply uses RXD/TXD signals and ground connection; no handshaking.

Contact me if I can answer any questions:
Bob K5WA

One more note after using this connection for a day...
I had to set the port buffer (slider adjustment in Win10 Device Manager for the specific port) to 2 out of 4 rather than 4 out of 4 since the connection was dropping out after 10 minutes randomly.  It is now solid and has been running for hours.  This will handle my needs.
Again, I can't explain why these settings work but after lots of trial and error, they work for me.

Well, I see 220 people were attracted to view my post from the description but there were zero answers so I'm assuming others may be interested in my findings.  The guys who already figured this out will find this very basic but for us newbies who don't know up from down, I hope this helps get you over a hurdle so you can use COM1 for "transparent" (my definition - standard RS-232 communication that you normally take for granted when you plug a cable from your computer to an RS-232 device).

In my case, I need to have a transparent RS-232 link to my remote SO2R station which will handle my PLC based control system (128 I/O for antenna switching, rotation and misc. items).  I could not find a simple and direct set of instructions to make this work but here is a check list to do this one job now that I've stumbled on it.

1) Use a null modem cable on the RADIO end between the RRC and the RS-232 device.  (I just used a standard off-the-shelf NULL modem cable but you could make one that just uses 3 pins RX,TX,GND).
2) Under the SERIAL settings of each RRC, use the MODE 3, char timeout setting.  MODE 1 was recommended but it was VERY slow and I found MODE 3 to be great and very fast.
3) Make sure the baud rates match your RS-232 device;i.e. if your device runs at 38,400 8N1, make sure each RRC is set the same way.
4) On the CONTROL RRC, make sure you don't accidentally leave the "Use USB COM Port as 1" turned ON.  It has to be OFF if you want to use the DB9 COM1 port on the CONTROL RRC.
5) Make sure you click the CONNECT button on the status page of the CONTROL RRC before you try to see if serial data is flowing.  The yellow LED on each RRC will light when a solid connection is establish.

All the other setting are fairly unimportant if you ONLY want COM1 communication but this will help you isolate any issues when you test on your home LAN like I'm doing.  I'm open for any questions but remember, I'm a newbie and use the hit or miss technique to figure things out so don't think you will be getting an answer like a PHD in EE would give.  ;-)   My direct email, if needed, is K5WA at arrl dot net.

Good luck!

Bob K5WA

I have a PLC on the RADIO end and an HMI Panel on the control side of my RRC pair.  This RRC pair worked perfectly earlier for K3 Twins, CAT (for N1MM) and WinKeyer.  I removed the K3, CAT and WinKey settings so I now simply have one function for this pair; i.e. COM1 transparent RS-232 channel for my PLC.  I cannot find a FULL description in the manual, only bits and pieces with many caveats and dead end instructions.  I've tried all the pinout connections shown in the manual but it still does not communicate. I'm even using a terminal program to watch the ports to see what is happening.  I get the initial 1258 header from the RRC but nothing more.  I get this same result for COM1 and COM2.

Does anyone know where I can find a complete set of setup instructions or a sample .bin file for transparent serial communication that I can follow?

Thanks for any ideas.

Bob K5WA


OK, thanks.  The good news is that I can stop looking for another serial port in this first 1258 set because it does what I want now: CAT for N1MM, K3 control and WinKeying perfectly.  I have a WS-1216H so I'll run my PLC serial line through that.  After I get that running, I'll start setting up the second K3 in my SO2R remote using the exact setup I used on the first, progress is being made.  I've also ordered RemoteRigs' ACOM control unit (forgot the model number) so I can use the amps as well. 

The project is coming together.

Thanks for your help!

Bob K5WA


I have a question that seems to fit best in this thread.

Similar to the above, I have the K3 twins, N1MM and WinKeyer running successfully with the K3 twin setup as you describe above.  Different from above, I am not interested in FT-8 or RTTY.  I still need one more RS-232 (or RS-485) COM port to run my extensive PLC station control (18 antennas, two 4SQR switches, beverage switching and 4 rotators) system but it seems like I've used up all the COM ports available in the 1258.  COM0 is for the K3, COM1 has Mode 7, Com2 has "Logical parallel to COM0" and COM3 (extra) is used by WinKey.

Am I out of luck using the 1258 MKII for one more serial port?  I also have a WS-1216H in case you can tell me that it has a COM port available.  I'm sure these answers are in the manuals somewhere but I can't find them.

Bob K5WA

Hardware, Cabling, Installations / Re: WinTest/K3 Twins
« on: 2018-08-20, 00:00:50 »
Thanks, yes, I've posted a note to SM2O and we'll see what he says.  Oh to be so close and then fail.  ;-)

Oh well, I'm in this for the long term now and this is just a minor setback.  You've helped me get a configuration that works so I consider I've made a major step forward toward the end result but I'll put some good RF protection on these units from now on.


By the way, I tried the reset button on the board but I'm sure the unit needs to be powered for that you work so it did nothing.



I just got my 1258 MK II radio end (s/n 3170) running after a 3 year layoff from my remoting project.  As I was testing it on air with my terrible home antenna, I apparently got RF into the 1258 MK II and it will not power up now.  Is there anything I can do to get it running again?  With my microscopic glasses, I don't see any obvious damage on the board but I'm guessing a chip is fried.  I'm assuming I would need to send it back to you for repair or buy a new one?

Also, I have an older 1258 (s/n 2123) which I put in place of 3170.  Can you point me to any jumper or hardware changes I need to make on 2123 so that it will work with my 1258 MK II Control (3196)?

Bob K5WA

Hardware, Cabling, Installations / Re: WinTest/K3 Twins
« on: 2018-08-19, 22:57:16 »

Sorry to bother you with this but in my testing at home here (very fun), I apparently got RF into the Radio RRC with my crummy antenna here at home and it won't even power up now.  I've used my microscopic glasses and don't see any obvious damage but wondered if you knew of a hardware reset procedure.  I tried the reset button on the back but I'm sure it needs a powered box to work.  I guess I need to send this to Sweden?

Thanks again,

Hardware, Cabling, Installations / Re: WinTest/K3 Twins
« on: 2018-08-19, 14:46:04 »

Just tested it and it worked the first time!  I used the USB connection for COM1 and WinKeyer is on the virtual com port.  Now it is working with N1MM.

Vielen Dank!


Hardware, Cabling, Installations / Re: WinTest/K3 Twins
« on: 2018-08-19, 14:36:22 »
OK, thanks Mitch.  I'll try that today.

Bob K5WA

Hardware, Cabling, Installations / Re: WinTest/K3 Twins
« on: 2018-08-19, 03:54:21 »

I'm using N1MM, K3 and K3/0 in about the same 1258 MKII application as the others here.  I read the manual to say that I can use the virtual ports and don't need to connect my CAT to CONTROL COM1 or any hardware port.  Am I misunderstanding the manual?  I have the rigs working perfectly and N1MM is using the CONTROL Winkey emulator (via virtual port) but I can't get the CAT line to communicate via virtual port.  I have not tried the hardware COM1 solution and hope I don't need to because I have other plans for COM1.

Thanks for any ideas as I get back into this remoting project I halted 3 years ago.  ;-)

Bob K5WA

General discussion forum / Re: Elecraft K3 power on problem
« on: 2012-05-23, 16:30:12 »
I decided I could not wait until this evening to try this modification.  I played hookey from work and made the mod.  Everything works perfectly now.

Thanks Mike! :)

General discussion forum / Re: Elecraft K3 power on problem
« on: 2012-05-23, 15:44:13 »

Thank you very much!  I'll make that modification tonight.  I've also informed Elecraft so they can be aware of this since I'm sure it will come up again.

Bob K5WA

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