Instructables
If you are one of those people who never has the right cable when they need it then this project is for you. Turn one cat5 network cable into the Megatron of cabling by wiring custom adaptors and bridges. This straight through cable can transform into a crossover, serial, serial null-modem, cisco console, vga or vga extension cable by using four adapters, two links and one couple.

This project was originally published in vol 1 of Make (www.makezine.com) on page 96 and i highly reccomend reading it. Easy to follow wiring diagrams make it the perfect reference to read alongside this version. I've added a couple things you wont find in the mag such as vga over ethernet and alternate tecniques for creating the plugs.

Have fun and as always you can get me at jacob@makezine.com
 
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Step 1: Get Parts and Tools

MATERIALS
1 Length of Cat5 ethernet cable (complete cable)
1 Length of raw Cat5 cable
2 RJ45 to DB9 FEMALE (serial) converters
alternate: 2 RJ45 to DB9 male AND 2 DB9 female
2 RJ45 to HD15 MALE (monitor) converters
alternate: 2 RJ45 to DB9 male AND 2 HD15 male
1 RJ45 couple
4 RJ45 plugs
1 F-F HD15 gender changer (changes male to female)


TOOLS:
Soldering iron and supplies
RJ45 crimping tool
Wire cutters/strippers


NOTES:
If you have no use for a male to male vga cable you can replace one of the male HD15 connectors with a female and you wont need to buy the gender changer.
rrostie11 year ago
this is a big help with what I was planning to do, except I don't understand why you used two rj45 jacks. my plan is to use a rj45 jack, cable and keystone jack.
I was going to post saying that the blue and brown wires should not crossover but then I realized this is for a gigabyte connection. If it is for a gigabyte connection I would make a full cable for it and not use Cat5 I would go with Cat6 or if the connection needs to be at a gig and is highly impotent Cat7(yes there is
Cat7 and it is a pain).
hmm cool, but i never once EVER had ANYTHING that used a serial port.? whats used in them (other than ancient mouse's)
I take it you're pretty young. Serial was standard when I was a kid (Few years ago since I'm an early 90s kid).
no lol im not pretty young . im like your age i turn 16 in ....less than a month so ya im a 1992'r lol. but no every computer i EVER had i never had anything run on serial.. (prehistoric pc w like 500mb'ish hdd, 95 bell pc, mac g2, mac, mac g4, 98 dell, 2000xp, etc. lol but now im using my dream computer :DDDDD ...just amazing lol. and still havent came acrost a serial input device, even know the zillians of things iv used still LOL.
I still use RS232 (Serial). Softmodding satellite boxes ftw. I'm seriously surprised you've never used serial, I've owned tons of serial devices over the years.
I built a serial board for my fire alarm panel to use with my really old 1992 laptop
btop HammyHavoc6 years ago
The only serial devices I have ever owned are a mouse, a scanner, and my picaxe cable. What mods can yo actually do to a satellite box then? That sounds really interesting.
Derin btop6 years ago
maybe unlocking locked channels
btop Derin6 years ago
Woah, cool
Derin btop6 years ago
yea
Derin btop6 years ago
firmware
serial is incredibly useful, though most consumer devices dont use it any more. most modern flat panel LCD/Plasma TV screens have a control/service port on the back where you can control the screen from a comp, linux MCE uses it to trun the screen on/change inputs/etc. i use it for homebrew stuff (unable to afford large tv rofl) such as my pic programmer, but also on network stuff ive picked up second hand or when the screen dies on my linux box and i use the serial port with a simple console thing to get access again
Just about any I/O device was made at one time to use RS232 serial. Mice especially, but also printers, scanners, Disney sound source I think used it, UPS, external hard drives and CD-ROMs, etc. PS2 keyboards and mice still use a type of serial interface though I believe it is different from actual RS232. I've never done low level programming for those though so it might be the same or it might not, but it's definitely some type of serial. I still use serial from time to time for shell access to computers running Linux and to shell into my TiVo which also runs a type of Linux. Mostly though I use XbaseT to access those but serial is still handy for when the network decides it's not going to work. Actually network is a type of serial connection but it uses different protocols from RS232. Good Cisco routers will have a serial port for changing settings. Also USB and FireWire/IEEE1394 is a type of serial connection.
ps2 is plain usb.
They use similar protocols but ok,they arent the same
I tried to pull usb off serial but to no avail
dainichi Derin3 years ago
Not even 'similar protocols'; the difference between serial, PS/2 and USB is like the difference between pineapple, cabbage and pork.
USB uses differential signaling, serial and ps/2 do not.
Serial is officially +/- 12v (up to +/-15v) though many OEMs cheat.
PS/2 is 5v, USB is 3.3V
PS/2 is a synchronous protocol, whereas serial and USB are asynchronous.
USB has built in support for multiple, distinct devices; serial and PS/2 know only of the two ends of the cable.
There are ways of operating between some combinations of these, but it requires significant hardware and software to do it. The combinations that I know of are:
USB ->Serial
USB->PS/2
PS/2->Serial (though this is just a pinout adapter. the hardware switches to a different mode to use this)
PS/2->USB (another pinout adapter, and just like the above, the hardware must be able to make the distinction, or it won't work)
USB is +/-5v not 3.3v,
Mostly routers/switches now-a-days. Time clocks. Dialup modems (yes, they are still used for maintenance purposes on some equipment). Lots of scientific/telecom equipment. UPSes. It's still in use enough that Dell decided to forego PS2 ports on some of the servers I have, but they still have a serial port! Someone else mentioned CDRom & external HDs, but I doubt that was ever the case (too slow). The Disney Sound Source used the Parallell port, I had one in the 90's. Do you have a Linksys router? They have a serial connection (it's on the PCB, but not wired up to reduce costs).
cowen4 years ago
Very good instruct-able.  I have many of these cables for many types of connections.

I use a Fluke 4xxx series cable tester and need to test various cables and save the results.
DieCastoms6 years ago
Is it possible to get a female Cat5 cable end, so that your cross over mini-cable would not also need the coupler? I have been wanting to make one of those for my wife for her laptop bag. I considered getting a coupler and removing one female end and replacing with a short piece of Cat5 and a male end, but I don't know what is inside the coupler (ei. wires or simply metal contacts that bridge from one female to the other..). Mike at DC.
But that would reduce the beauty of this setup. You use the coupler if you are in a pinch and don't have enough CAT5 to reach, you also use it to add in the coupler to the serial connections to make them crossover. Sometimes I have my cable, and the cable at the location, but neither of those is long enough on it's own for what I need to connect. I was able to fit the 2 DB9 shells, the coupler, and the mini-crossover inside an altoids mint tin. Skip the CISCO adapter unless you work with such equipment.
mice
Danny_Payne5 years ago
whats the difference the cisco adapter and the mini crossover??
volto5 years ago
Nice pictures!
volto5 years ago
agis686 years ago
NICE JOB....
Mammuth6 years ago
Good instruct. You can actually bypass the mini-cross & cisco by easily opening the couplers and rewiring them (the brass pins attached to the wire can be bended and removed from the plastic) without the use of the crimping tool. You can make them stand out by either colour coding / writing their nice flat & large surface (ie perm marker, labels..) this way you only need straight cat5 cables
rmsbod6 years ago
Great instructions. Thanks. However. Where can I get the RJ45 to HD15 Male/female connectors. I've hunted the web but no joy. Please help!!!!!
grassoviso6 years ago
Can anyone tell me where to purchase these connectors so that I may build one of these myself? Thanks, Nick grassoviso@aol.com
digikey.com

part number for the RJ45 to DB9 FEMALE (serial) converters: AE10310-ND

You should be able to get the RJ-45 ends, crimper, and cat-5e cable at any bigbox hardware store. the female to female RJ-45 may also be there too.

Here's a list of electronics suppliers
voltagex7 years ago
What I need is something like that for every different type of USB socket I have! Mini-A Mini-B USB-A USB-B and a couple of the proprietary ones (Sandisk, iRiver MP3 players)
USB might be tricky. You'd have to open up a cable and figure out how the wires are twisted. It might not be possible without introducing errors and slowing down communications.
Forgive my ignorance, but why is the twisting important? I thought USB worked off 4 wires, 2 data, 2 power and that was the end of it!
The twisting is what rejects the noise because it's unshielded. Shielding puts a piece of thin metal (foil) around the wires which is grounded to block the noise from getting to the wires inside. USB is shielded, cat5 is not. That is where you might run into problems. The U in UTP stands for unshielded. What the twisting does is expose all conductors equally to any noise source. The idea is that because all conductors are exposed equally, any change in voltage caused by noise will change the voltage on all conductors equally and so they cancel each other out. It doesn't work quite as well as shielding but works well enough for hardware which is designed for it. It would be great to try out though if it works. In high noise environments you might run into some erratic operation or maybe not. You won't know until you try it, so I say give it a try and if it works then use it. Just look out for any erratic operation like your keyboard or mouse disappearing from the hardware list or jerky movements of the mouse cursor and other such things. If it's bad enough to annoy you then just buy some 4 conductor cable with shielding and use that instead. It's pretty cheap. Just hook up the wires the same on both ends and connect the shielding to the outer shell of the USB connectors. This is how real USB extension cable is made. Personally I would go that route because that is the "correct" way to do it, but I get easily annoyed when something goes wrong and want to be on the safe side. If you like experimenting though then by all means go ahead and try the cat5.
Derin voltagex6 years ago
twisted pair(utp)
step 4Wire the DB9 Plugs u made 2 wire goes to one pin RJ45 Pin1 (blue): DB9 Pin3 RJ45 Pin2 (orange): DB9 Pin5 ****** RJ45 Pin3 (black): DB9 Pin2 RJ45 Pin4 (red): DB9 Pin7 RJ45 Pin5 (green): DB9 Pin4 RJ45 Pin6 (yellow): DB9 Pin5 ******* RJ45 Pin7 (brown): DB9 Pin8 RJ45 Pin8 (white): DB9 Pin1 and DB9 Pin6 while in pic dscn0290 u made RJ45 Pin6 (yellow): DB9 Pin9 so what is the right thind the pic or what ?????????????
dan0008928 years ago
Cisco Rollover (console) cables are wired as follows: 1 - 8, 2 - 7, 3 - 6, 4 - 5, 5 - 4, 6 - 3, 7 - 2, 8 - 1 Therefore, if you're adapting from a straight through, I believe that your adapter should be wired like this: End 1: White-Orange Orange White-Green Blue White-Blue Green White-Brown Brown End 2: Brown White-Brown Green White-Blue Blue White-Green Orange White-Orange I did something quite similar for myself to reduce the number of cables I need to carry when I go to sitesbut with just a red crossover adapter and a blue rollover adapter. Dan CCNA
wischi8 years ago
Cool I want stuff like this wischi