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Xyplex Console Server Connections Guide
(updated: Jun 26, 2008, 10:54 am)

This document will outline terminal server connections to Xyplex 1600/1800 series console servers. These connections use the Xyplex-defined signal pinouts for the RJ-45 connector, but the same wiring schema is used by the iTouch In-Reach product line, owned by MRVCommunications. All of the connections listed here presume that you are connecting to the RJ-45 connections on the terminal servers. All connections make use of standard ethernet cables (RJ-45, 8-conductor, 'straight through' cables) unless specified otherwise.

Table of Contents
Xyplex RJ-45 signaling
Similarites between Xyplex/Cisco Schemas
RJ-45 Cable Diagrams
Making a null modem cable
About Serial BREAK
Attaching devices to a PC instead
Loading Xyplex OS on Flash
Xyplex 1640 Configuration Tips
RJ-45 adapter Information
Specialty Cables (USR, Sun, DEC)
Connecting to DE-9 devices
Connecting to DB-25 devices
Author Credits

Xyplex RJ-45 signaling

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Signal Type











TD. Gnd.



RD. Gnd.












Xyplex signals

1) Input means a signal from the external device, coming in to the RJ-45 port
2) Output means a signal source from the RJ-45 port, going out to the external device

The reference ground, and data signals, are located on the center pairs of the RJ-45, so you can use a straight-through RJ-11 cable for simple, data-only connections. (However, you should not use RJ-11 or RJ-12 connectors in your RJ-45 jacks for longer than quick tests, as these smaller connectors will tend to bend the outer RJ-45 pins up, and this can lead to intermittent or open connections on the RJ-45 jack later on, affecting the hardware flow control and hardware handshaking leads.)

Note the differences between the Cisco Pinouts and the Xyplex pinouts!
Both wiring schema are symmetrical, but there are differences!

1) The grounds are not the same. Xyplex has two ground pins, while the Cisco uses pin 4 for ground, and pin 5 is sometimes a 'switch' telling the serial port to use RS-232 signalling instead of RS-422 signalling.
2) The hardware flow control leads are inverted between Cisco and Xyplex. That is, in the Cisco schema, all of the inputs are on the same half of the connector, while the Xyplex schema puts the 'output' flow control signal on the same side of the connector as the 'input' data and handshaking leads.

As a result, most of the Cisco and Xyplex adapters tie RJ-45 pins 4 and 5 together. Because of these differences, you could use a Xyplex adapter in a Cisco environment (and vice-versa), if you don't need hardware flow control. In such a case, I would recommend that you disable the hardware flow control signals on the ports of either end of a connection when you are using the wrong schema adapter. While this will work in a pinch, I still recommend using the correct adapters or specialty cables whenever possible, to avoid confusion if you need to troubleshoot connections later. (If you need to use the wrong schema adapters, I also suggest making a note about where you used them, making time to get more of the correct adapters, and then scheduling a time to swap them out, and restore the flow control configurations.)

Cable Diagrams

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The best way to make a null-modem connection between two Xyplex RJ-45 terminal servers is to use a USOC 'rolled' 8-wire cable.However, if you need to connect devices over a longer distance, you can use standard 8-wire 'straight through' (ethernet) cables and a pair of DB-25 adapters to make the null-modem signal transition. (CDDI cables are also wired as 'USOC-rolled' cables.) Using a Crossover Ethernet cable will not work.

APACN part: 24490-21

APACN part: 24490-22

Standard Ethernet cables follow a specific wiring pattern. However, not ALL ethernet cables have 8 wires in the cable, since a standard Ethernet interface only uses 4 of the wires. For console connections, you need to make sure that your cables have all 8 wires, either 'straight through' (as shown to the left) for most connections, or 'rolled' (as shown in the center). The USOC cable used for CDDI connections will also work as a "rolled" cable, if you have them in the appropriate lengths.

With Xyplex RJ-45 console server pinouts, as well as Cisco RJ-45 console pinouts, using a "rolled" cable is like using a Null-modem adapter on the connection.

The Crossover Ethernet cable will not work as a null-modem cable for Xyplex (or Cisco) gear.

Making a Null Modem Cable with Xyplex adapters

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The four charts below show you how to use adapters to make a Null Modem, using standard ethernet cables to provide the appropriate lengths. (Always match vendor-compatible parts! Connect Xyplex format with Xyplex format, MOD-TAP with MOD-TAP, etc. Your connection will not work if you mix different vendors models.)

Cisco Adapter combinations









(If you connect both DTE adapters, or both DCE adapters together, you get a straight-through cable.)

Micro-Annex Adapter combinations









(If you connect both DTE adapters, or both DCE adapters together, you get a straight-through cable.)

Xyplex/iTouch Adapter combinations









(If you connect both DTE adapters, or both DCE adapters together, you get a straight-through cable.)

IOLAN Adapter combinations









(If you connect both DTE adapters, or both DCE adapters together, you get a straight-through cable.)

You can also use the 'straight-through' cables shown in the tables above to allow you to insert an RS-232 passive signal tracer or a breakout-box in-line between the RJ-45 devices, so that you can monitor the signal states on the various leads, as a troubleshooting aid.

About Serial BREAK...

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Older (and un-modified) Xyplex terminal servers, specifically the 1600 and 1800 product family, Will Send Serial BREAK when the Xyplex device is power cycled. These units send the BREAK signal to all of their serial ports as soon as the power is turned off, or the power is accidentally disconnected. If you have any older Sun Microsystems server consoles attached to the Xyplex, this Serial BREAK signal will cause these machines to halt, and come to the "ok>" prompt.

ASP Technologies developed some hardware dongles to prevent some terminal server devices from sending Serial BREAK. At one point, they sold a dongle that would be soldered in-line between the DC output of the power supply of the older Xyplex devices, and their main circuit board. There is no good way to tell if your older Xyplex hardware has one of these dongles, unless you open the case and look. (ASP made other devices for Digi products that would connect in-line with the power lead coming to the Digi product from external devices. These dongles were visible outside the Digi device.)

When iTouch Communications bought the Xyplex product line, they continued to support (and sell) the older units, but the also developed the In-Reach product family, and they made sure that they wouldn't send Serial BREAK unless you command the port to send the signal.

MRV Communications (iTouch's parent company), started re-branding all of their products in 2004, including the In-Reach line and integrated power control.

If you are interested in learning more about which devices send Serial BREAK at inappropriate times, please check our BREAK Testing Pages.

Attaching devices to a PC for configuration

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When you are deploying console servers, you may still want to have a way to wheel a terminal or a laptop up to a machine to check configurations (basically, the practical (or paranoid) among us want to have a safety net, in case the console services fail). In this case, using modular adapters actually simplifies our job!

By connecting all of your remote consoles to the patch panels (or to the RJ-45 ports on Console Servers) using straight-through Ethernet cables, all you need to do is connect an adapter to your laptop, and set up a Terminal Emulator package to talk to the serial port of the laptop.

    To connect your PC to a Xyplex-wired console server or patch panel, you would use the XFDCE91 adapter, and a terminal emulation program.

If you want to set up a "crash cart", I'd also suggest that you set the serial port speed on all of your consoles to 9600 bps, 8-N-1 (since that seems to be the most common setting). Having a common speed removes one more variable to have to remember during a crisis.

If you want your "crash cart" to take the place of your console server, you should use the XFDTE91adapter. This way, you can unplug a hosts cable from the console server, and connect it directly to the adapter on the crash cart, without the need for a null-modem connection.

When you have successfully configured your devices, all you need to do is disconnect the cable from the adapter on your PC, and connect the cable to a port on a Xyplex console server.

    If you have any Sun workstations connected to your console services, you should test to make sure that your terminal emulator software doesn't send a serial BREAK when you start/stop it, since the BREAK signal will likely send your Sun host to the OK prompt. (This has also been reported on some SGI and NeXT hosts.)

Formatting and Reloading a Xyplex Flash Card

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Copy the Xyplex software image xpcsrv20.sys and loader image mcffs1.sys to a the local tftp server directory.

Boot the Xyplex either via card, BOOTP, or DTFTP.

Login and set priv mode.

Enter the following commands one at a time being sure to modify the pathname and tftp server IP address for your network.

format card option 3 nonredundant
set server get card load file "xpcsrv20.sys" ip address area 2
set server get card load file "mcffs1.sys" ip address area 1

Type show manager files to verify a proper card format and to see that system files are present. Compare your output to the example output below.

MX1608B V6.3 Rom 440000 HW 11.00.00 Lat Protocol V5.2 Uptime: 0 00:04:40
Address:   08-00-87-0F-F3-03   Name:   CONSOLE01.ELKINS     Number:         0
                                                        01 Jan 1986  00:04:40
Files from directory /MC/SYSTEM
 File Name    Version   Date        Time         Size
 MCFFS1.SYS   V2.15     22 Dec 2002 23:25:50    28928 bytes AREA 1 Size   64886
 XPCSRV20.SYS V6.3      22 Dec 2002 23:23:56   796096 bytes AREA 2 Size 1768897
     2 files, 825024 bytes.
Files from directory /MC/PARAM
 File Name    Version   Date        Time         Size
 -0FF303.SYS  ver 17    01 Jan 1986 00:04:16     5076 bytes
 DEFAULTS.SYS ver 0     22 Dec 2002 23:21:48     1024 bytes
     2 files, 6100 bytes.

Type "init del 1" to reboot the term server and test the new card.

Configuration Suggestions for Xyplex Console Servers

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The older Xyplex devices are a bit tricky to install into console server roles. If you are connecting your network equipment console ports to your console server, remember to consider;

  • Setting an idle timeout on the console exec of the network gear
    • You probably don't want someone to leave a port in the enabled mode...
  • Consider adding a password to the async ports of the network gear (just like you do for read-only access via telnet.)

Configuring a Xyplex 1600 for Console Server use:
(This should be a good starting point for Xyplex 1800, and iTouch In-Reach console servers as well.)

1. Connect the ethernet port of the Xyplex to the console network switch. (The Xyplex units won't respond on their console ports if the "LAN" LED isn't lit. If you have a 10-Base-T connector, the easy solution is to attach a BNC "T" connector, to this port, and attach a pair of 50-ohm terminators. If you attach a transciever, you will need to connect it to something else, to get 'link', before the LAN LED will light.

2. Connect the included Xyplex cable to port 1 of the term server, and plug the DB9 adapter into the COM port of your PC. Other options are to use a straight through cable (green) with a yellow XFDCE adapter, or a yellow Xyplex roll cable with a black XFDCE adapter. (The default port settings are 9600 bps, 8 data bits, No parity, and 1 stop bit, commanly displayed as 9600-8-N-1. If you are inheriting a used chassis, some of the port speeds may be different.)

3. Press enter until a prompt appears. By default, the Xyplex ports will try to autobaud (to automatically detect and match the serial port speed to the serial speed of the attached device), and the Xyplex code is looking for the carriage return ([enter] or [return] key) character.

    3a. If you don't get a prompt on the lowest numbered port, try the highest numbered port, and then start working your way through the entire range. You may have a terminal server that has a presious connection that doesn't give you a prompt...but they probably left at least one port working in a normal mode...

4. Once you have a prompt from the unit, enter the configuration mode type "set priv" and press the [enter] (or [return]) key. Then type the default priveleged password. (The default password is system.)

5. Cut and paste the commands from the table below, into a text editor, and modify some of the settings for use in your network. (Things like the host name, network info, domain info, PASSWORDS...) Note that some of the lines apply to ALL the ports, a few to almost-all of the ports, and a few commands only apply to one or two ports. In the example below, I'm using a 16-port device, and I'm reserving the highest port (16) as my local console port, and using ports 1-15 for normal Console Server access.

    5a. Note: To make changes to both the running config and the stored config simultaneously, type "define server change enabled" on the Xyplex console before editing any other parameters on the Xyplex console.

    5b. Once you have the text file configured the way you want it, copy the lines into a terminal program (to send the commands to the Xyplex via the serial port).

    5c. Whether you type the lines by hand, or copy-and-paste the data, you may run into syntax errors. This may happen because of a typografic error, or because the version of Xyplex code you are running does not support the command(s) that cause the error. Things to be aware of include;

  • Pressing return with a partially-completed command will show you the available arguments for the next part of the command.
  • The -701- errors are usually an incomplete command.
  • The -702- errors are usually a spelling error (but the Xyplex will tell you which word was not recognized, and what the available keywords are for that part of the command.
  • Some commands want double-quotes around parts of the argument. If you don't use the double-quotes, the command won't be accepted.
  • If you think I've made a typo here (or the Xyplex tells you to spell a command (such as 'pasthru') a particular way, I offer this small bit of advice: "Let the Wookie win!" (Type it the way the software wants to see it typed.)

6. Once you have input all of the commands you wish to input, type "init del 1" to reboot the Xyplex and activate the changes.

7. If you used the config I've given below, the new local access port will become port 16, so to reconnect after rebooting you will need to move the cable to port 16.

8. Now set the time and date with the commands
set server time xx:xx:xx
set server date dd mmm yyyy ("mmm" is the first three letters of the month.)

9. Done.

The list below are the recommended settings. If you have older firmware, some of these commands may not work on your unit. The variables shown in bold are meant to call your attention to the port numbers, or to important, site-specific information for your network. (The port numbers refer to a 16-port device.)

define server change enabled   [<-- if you want to make changes live...]
define server name console01.subnetwork
define server int name
define server welcome ""
define login password "[insert password here]"
define priv password "[insert other password here]"
define server login prompt "passwd "
define server int address
define server int subnet mask autoconfigure disabled
define server int subnet mask
define server int pri gate address
define server int broadcast address
define server int gateway auto discovery disabled
define po 0 tel echo remote
define po 0 tel remote 23
define po 0-16 prompt "console01.subnetwork.subdomain"
define po 1-16 autoconnect enabled
define po 1-16 inactivity logout disabled
define po 1-16 flow control disabled
define po 1-16 autobaud disabled
define po 1-16 autoprompt disabled
define po 1-16 message codes disabled
define po 1-16 internet connect disabled
define po 1-16 broadcast disabled
define po 1-16 input flow control disabled
define po 1-16 output flow control disabled
define po 1-16 loss notification disabled
define po 1-15 line editor disabled
define po 1-16 verification disabled
define po 1-15 access remote
define po 16 access local
define po 16 password enabled
define po 1-16 break disabled
define po 1-16 tel newline nul
define po 1-16 tel binary session mode pasthru
define po 1-16 default sessions mode pasthru
define po 1-16 tel csi escape disabled
define po 1-16 type ansi
define po 1-16 speed 9600
define po 1-16 char size 8
define po 1-16 parity none
define po 1-16 typeahead size 2048
define po 1-16 ip tcp window size 2048
define po 1-16 uli disabled

RJ-45 Adapter Schematics

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I am a strong proponent of buying pre-wired, pre-labeled adapters and cables. Generally speaking, you probably can't build an adapter cheaper, if you consider the value of your time as well as the component costs. And, whether or not I can make 100 adapters without a mistake isn't being questioned, I'm sure I'd rather not make 100 by myself. The best advantages for buying pre-built adapters and pre-wired cables include;

  • Consistent wiring and labeling of the parts.
  • Consistent shell colors and labels aides in troubleshooting, by visually identifying the parts.
  • Enhances reliability, knowing you can grab any adapter and count on it being wired correctly.
  • If you need a LOT of adapters or cables for a build-out, you probably don't want to build them all yourself!

You can purchase any of the adapters and cables listed on these pages individually (or in bulk) from APA Cables & Networks ( You also have the option of buying a Xyplex Console Kit, which includes a complete set of adapters, and some of the specialty cables listed above, as well as a passive RS-232 Signal Tracer. The default shell color is blue for Xyplex adapters. You can get the shells in another color if you want, provided you want one of the colors listed below:

Available colors: BK = black, GN = green, RD = red, YL = yellow, BL = blue, GY = grey

So, the APACN part number XFDTE91-GN would denote the DB-9 female DTE adapter, wired for the Xyplex RJ-45 format, but supplied with a green plastic shell (instead of the default blue shell).

APA Cables & Networks also sells adapters and adapter kits for other RJ-45 schema, including the Annex/Bay/Nortel, IOLAN Rack+ and Cisco console server families. APA Cables & Networks uses different default colors to make it easier to visually identify the different RJ-45 wiring schema.

With all of this said, I also understand that sometimes you just need to make that one cable or adapter, and buying just one isn't practical. So, here are the schematics. (The APA Cables & Networks part number is shown below each adapter. If there is a Xyplex equivalent, I've noted the Xyplex part number as well.)

APACN p/n 24490-08

APACN p/n 24490-09

APACN p/n 24490-10

APACN p/n 24490-11

APACN p/n 24490-15

APACN p/n 24490-12

APACN p/n 24490-26

APACN p/n 24490-25

APACN p/n 24490-79

APACN p/n 24490-80

APACN p/n 24490-81

APACN p/n 24490-82

Specialty Cables for Xyplex Console Servers

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As with adapters, I recommend buying pre-built, pre-labeled, tested cables. APA Cables and Networks sells specialty cables for connecting Xyplex consoles ports to other console servers and devices, and these can be ordered from the descriptions and part numbers shown below. The default length is 7 feet, but you can order custom lengths as needed. The cables come with black boots on the RJ-45 end, and labels denoting the Xyplex end. The MMJ end does not get a boot, since they can't find anyone who makes a colored MMJ boot.

APACN p/n 24490-74








APACN p/n 24490-87




U.S. Robotics (USR, now 3-Com) digital modem chassis have a different pinouts than Cisco on the console ports on their NICs and NACs.

You can accommodate these devices by combining a XFDTE adapter with a USR cable (part number 1.009.691-B) attached to the USR console port, and an ethernet cable to connect the XFDTE adapter to the Xyplex port.

You can also make a single cable, with RJ-45 male connectors on each end. Make sure that you label both ends of the cable, since the wiring is not symmetrical (it makes a difference which end plugs into the Xyplex port!) APA Cables and Networks sells a couple of cables for this (black boot on the Xyplex end, orange boot on the USR end);

APACN p/n 24490-83

Sun Netra, T3 Hardware

Most Sun hardware has used a female DB-25 connector for the TTY A and B ports. (Use a XMDCE adapter to connect to a Xyplex console port.)

The Sun Netra T-1 (model 105) uses an RJ-45 console, and it happens to be wired identically to the Cisco console port.

  • To connect a Netra T-1 105 to a Xyplex console port, use a ciscoc-xyplex cable.

APACN p/n 24490-74

The DB-25 serial adapter that comes with the Sun Netra T-1 (Sun p/n 530-2889-02) is wired similarly to the Cisco part 29-0808-01, (APACN CMDCE adapter, with the addition of adding a 'frame ground' connection. The plastic DB-25 shell has a metalized coating, and a drain ground lead is attached from pin 1 of the DB-25(m) connector to a lead attached to the metalized shell. The schematic on the Sun p/n 530-2889-03 is similar, except they changed the colors of the wires inside the shell (and the tabs which hold the DB-25 connector are much more fragile, so take my word on the wiring inside!)

If you use the Sun part (or the CMDCE part), you will geta proper connection for the data leads, and the hardware handshaking, but not the hardware flow control. It would be better to use the XMDCE adapter instead, to ensure that you can use the hardware flow control if you ever need to.

The Sun Netra T-3 disk arrays use an RJ-13 connector for it's RS-232 console, and you only get data and ground for your connection (no flow control or handshaking). APA Cables and Networks sells a couple of cables for connecting these devices (black boot on the Xyplex end, no boot on the RJ-13 end);

APACN p/n 24490-61

Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC, then Compaq, then H.P.) equipment often used an RJ-13 with an offset locking tab, referred to as a Modified Modular jack (MMJ). This included their VT-series terminals, VAX equipment, and even newer Alpha series equipment.

APA Cables and Networks sells a cable for this (black boot on the Xyplex end, and no boot on the DEC end);

APACN p/n 24490-84

Devices with DE-9 console ports

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There are four DE-9 to Xyplex-schema RJ-45 adapters available from APA Cables and Networks

  • female adapter, APACN part number: 24490-15 ("XFDCE91").
  • female adapter, APACN part number: 24490-12 ("XFDTE91").
  • male adapter, APACN part number: 24490-26 ("XMDCE91").
  • male adapter, APACN part number: 24490-25 ("XMDTE91").

Rather than list all of the connection possibilities on this page, I have created my Xyplex Host-to-Adapters Page, which lists which adapter (or cable) you will need to connect any device on the list to a Xyplex, iTouch, or MRV Communications console server port.

There are currently four additional DE-9 to Xyplex-schema RJ-45 adapters with DSR tied to DCD available from APACN;

  • female adapter, APACN part number: 24490-79 ("XFDCE92").
  • female adapter, APACN part number: 24490-80 ("XFDTE92").
  • male adapter, APACN part number: 24490-81 ("XMDCE92").
  • male adapter, APACN part number: 24490-82 ("XMDTE92").

Note: Some Cisco 1900-series switches use a DE-9 console connection, instead of the RJ-45 connector. Some of these devices do not like a connection between DE-9 pin 1 and pin 6, connecting DSR to DCD on the DE-9, while other versions of the 1900 will require this connection. (If the Cisco 1900 you have attached a DE-9 adapter to is spewing AT modem commands out the port, you've got the wrong adapter...add or remove the loop as needed.) The XFD*E91 does not have the DCD connection tied to DSR, while the XFD*E92 series does have the tie connecting DSR to DCD on the DE-9.

APACN sells any of these adapters (individual or bulk), as well as a complete adapter/cable set.

Devices with DB-25 console ports

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Rather than list all of the possibilities here, I have created an Xyplex Host-to-Adapters Page, which lists the various combinations of male and female, DTE/DCE, DB-9 and DB-25, with a list of the various devices which fall under each connector type.

APA Cables and Networks sells any of these adapters (individual or bulk), as well as a complete adapter/cable set.

For basic RS-232 troubleshooting info, view my Minor Scroll of Console Knowledge

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