Author Topic: Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)  (Read 1628 times)

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Offline MrMobodies

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Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)
« on: May 10, 2022, 11:57:29 pm »


I realized my APC UPS wouldn't work when I plugged it in not just that it would shut down on connection and was a bit concerned about that.
I found others with the same issue and came aross this yesterday
https://www.apc.com/shop/uk/en/products/UPS-Communications-Cable-Smart-Signalling/P-940-0024

Quote
UPS Communications Cable Smart Signalling
Price £53.99 including vat
940-0024 Features
Key Features
Cord Length: 2 meters
UPS Communications Cable Smart Signalling  :bullshit:
UPS Cables that provide dedicated connections between APC UPSs and desktops, workstations, and servers
RoHS
Interface Cables Features & Benefits
Provides availability and reliability to let your UPS send signals over longer distances.  :blah:
UPS cable provides dedicated serial/USB communication between the UPS and the server, independent of the network.

When I see that word with this combination I tend to get very skeptical  thinking they they are up to something.
Unless there is *SOMETHING* in the cable sleeving or connecting then maybe I could understand.

I found this article just now:
https://www.apc.com/us/en/faqs/FA156800/
Quote
Why does a Smart-UPS turn off when a standard serial cable is attached?
Issue: Why does a Smart-UPS turn off when a  standard serial cable is attached?
Product Line: Smart-UPS
Environment: All Smart-UPS  models, All Serial Numbers

Cause: 1 A Smart-UPS will turn off if a standard serial cable is connected.  :bullshit: This is due to the proprietary pinout of APC Smart-UPS serial cables.
Resolution: Always make sure a proper APC Serial Cable is being used. APC Serial Cables will always have part number clearly marked on the connector end of the cable. Do not connect the serial cable if it is not marked with one of these part numbers.

SU, SUA, SUM, and SURT models use a DB9 to DB9 Serial cable. These cables are the 940-0024 or 940-1524 (Smart-Signaling) or 940-0020 (Simple Signaling)
SMT, SMX, SMC, and SRT models use a new Keyed RJ45 to DB9 cable to further differentiate between the APC cable and a standard serial cable. These cables are 940-0625A or 940-1525A (Smart Signaling) or 940-0128D (Simple Signaling)
 
Published on:8/10/2012
Last Modified on:9/29/2021

Signalling am I missing something here... "Smart signalling vs simple signalling" or if this a load of old nonsense?

1 To me it sounds like it is deliberate. Maybe I am missing something? could this had been the tradition with their older stuff many years before that or is it that they have decided to change a few pins around and give it a fancy name like there is something special about the wires/conductors in this cable that the UPS requires to work.

I brought a used on Ebay for £6 and it works:

I changed the wires around on another serial cable and it works too:
APC Smart Ups/Pro 400 to 650 series Pinout
Quote
F      M
1      
2      4
3      5
4      
5      6
6      
7      
8      
9      

EDIT:
Number pinouts on the male connector corresponding to the same positioning (parallel and not reversed) as the female connector so it is the same as the other diagrams I have seen but where the numbers are just reversed on male connector.


No problem so far:

Schneider/APC: You can't use a normal serial cable because we have changed the pinouts and won't tell you to get you to buy our own.

Joke: You have to buy our own cables which is proprietary (none of your business about pinouts or how it works) as it does very smart signalling between your UPS and will allow you to extend the cable longer.


Telling me to use a particular cable number reminds me of what use to happen years ago with equipment and power supplies with a common barrel jack... Use only this power supply model number. No voltage rating, polarity if DC and current.

I was trying to find something older to see how far back that went but found an APC UPS document from 2004 where they mention it too and it has the word "smart" in there as well:
Quote
Utilize apenas or cabo fornecido to connect to serial port. OBSERVATION: A serial pad interface is incompatible com or no-break.


What do you think?
Ever had this issue before?

Shall I tear down that £6 cable to see if there is something in there?
« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 10:08:49 pm by MrMobodies »
 

Offline BradC

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Re: Scheider/APC Smart signalling scam (serial cable)
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2022, 04:04:30 am »
There isn’t and the pin out has been known for years. It’s legacy from the old old smartups pre-serial comms where the serial lines were used for dumb signalling and control. Not a conspiracy, just backward compatibility.

The pin outs are like a rash all over the net if you do a 10 second search. Check the NUT or apcupsd docs if all else fails.
 
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Offline MrMobodies

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Re: Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2022, 04:18:21 am »
I didn't see any mention of compatibility. So they decided from the beginning to use that particular pin configuration.

It would have been nice if it was given an official standard relating to serial communication and labelled up on the actual port instead of a bunch of codes on the cables that I found confusing.

What in the cable is suppose to be "smart signalling" in the cable itself, it's no different to any other apart from the pinout.

Is that just marketing nonsense?

Maybe I'll change the title in the post.
Thread name changed:
Scheider/APC Smart signalling scam (serial cable)
to
Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)

Sorry about that I think I jumped to conclusions too soon.
It would have been helpful if they explained why it was as they say "proprietary" in terms of compatibility if that is the case.

I can't seem to find a way of running multiple copies of the PowerChute at the same time on the minipc I dedicate to monitoring stuff. I was thinking of making a copy and renaming the services which uses some form of Apache and SQL but I can't find where to change the port numbers in the configuration files.

Now one is connected to a minipc that has a serial port on it and other on a laptop that stays on all the time with no serial port but I found a Moxa Nport DE-311 network serial port server that I forgot about for many years which has now come in handy and seems to work fine with it.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 04:35:00 am by MrMobodies »
 

Offline darkspr1te

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Re: Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2022, 09:11:23 am »
I didn't see any mention of compatibility. So they decided from the beginning to use that particular pin configuration.

It would have been nice if it was given an official standard relating to serial communication and labelled up on the actual port instead of a bunch of codes on the cables that I found confusing.

What in the cable is suppose to be "smart signalling" in the cable itself, it's no different to any other apart from the pinout.

Is that just marketing nonsense?

Maybe I'll change the title in the post.
Thread name changed:
Scheider/APC Smart signalling scam (serial cable)
to
Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)

Sorry about that I think I jumped to conclusions too soon.
It would have been helpful if they explained why it was as they say "proprietary" in terms of compatibility if that is the case.

I can't seem to find a way of running multiple copies of the PowerChute at the same time on the minipc I dedicate to monitoring stuff. I was thinking of making a copy and renaming the services which uses some form of Apache and SQL but I can't find where to change the port numbers in the configuration files.

Now one is connected to a minipc that has a serial port on it and other on a laptop that stays on all the time with no serial port but I found a Moxa Nport DE-311 network serial port server that I forgot about for many years which has now come in handy and seems to work fine with it.
I've used NUT and APCUPSD for years on serial based APC units, theres the official protocol which covers the usual info like power status, battery etc but then theres another protocol which covers the NVRAM settings including battery age , all changeable as well as the input voltage (240/120) which only messes with the math for load requests.
using the above tools (NUT/APCUPSD) you can have one linux pc monitoring multiple serial UPS's and then in turn send that data onto clients (NUT works always as client server via TCP) or have client pull that data(per ups unit or as a whole). it can also pass onto graphana.

heres a good site for info,
https://networkupstools.org/protocols/apcsmart.html

darkspr1te
 
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Offline Ranayna

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Re: Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2022, 12:33:16 pm »
I think that this is an error that most people make who try serial communication with an APC UPS :D
It is very common to read about someone that killed a bunch of servers by plugging in the wrong serial cable into the UPS. Inevitably, any such post is accompanied by a lot of ranting against APC...
 
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Offline MrMobodies

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Re: Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2022, 09:31:37 pm »
There isn’t and the pin out has been known for years. It’s legacy from the old old smartups pre-serial comms where the serial lines were used for dumb signalling and control. Not a conspiracy, just backward compatibility.

According to the product page of the UPS in question it didn't see the part number when I was looking. I did find 940-0024 but when looking to buy I see letters put in front like "C" in "940-0024C" . I was concerned about buying the wrong cable and having to return it. Maybe I didn't look well or was impatient.

Quote
The pin outs are like a rash all over the net if you do a 10 second search. Check the NUT or apcupsd docs if all else fails.

I noticed that too but there seems what I thought looked many different variations of the pin outs so I didn't know which one to trust and I don't to waste to time finding out especially after I saw it shutdown the first time.  Fortunately it didn't damage the Acer minipc I connected it to.

So I found a cheaply priced £6 cable on ebay with a part number associated to other listings with this model believing it might or might not work but fortunately it did so tear down time and got the other cable the same.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/203835445636
Quote
reversed to match diagram below this one:
M      F
4      2
5      3
6      5
EDIT:
Number pinouts on the male connector corresponding to the same positioning (parallel and not reversed) as the female connector so it is the same as the other diagrams I have seen but where the numbers are just reversed on male connector.


https://pinouts.ru/visual/gen/apc_smart_cable.jpg  (image file attached to post)
Quote
M      F
2      2
1      3
9      5

https://networkupstools.org/protocols/apcsmart.htm
Quote
M      F   
NC    1-|
2      2  |
1      3  |
NC    4-|
9      5
NC    7-|
NC    8-|

I've used NUT and APCUPSD for years on serial based APC units, theres the official protocol which covers the usual info like power status, battery etc but then theres another protocol which covers the NVRAM settings including battery age , all changeable as well as the input voltage (240/120) which only messes with the math for load requests.
heres a good site for info,
https://networkupstools.org/protocols/apcsmart.html

darkspr1te

https://networkupstools.org/protocols/apcsmart.html]https://networkupstools.org/protocols/apcsmart.html
Quote
Description
Here’s the information on the elusive APC smart signalling protocol used by their higher end units (Back-UPS Pro, Smart-UPS, Matrix-UPS, etc). What you see here has been collected from a variety of sources. Some people analyzed the chatter between PowerChute and their hardware. Others sent various characters to the UPS and figured out what the results meant.

RS-232 differences
Normal 9 pin serial connections have TxD on 3 and RxD on 2. APC’s smart serial ports put TxD on pin 1 and RxD on pin 2. This means you go nowhere if you use a normal straight through serial cable. In fact, you might even power down the load if you plug one of those cables in. This is due to the odd routing of pins - DTR and RTS from the PC usually wind up driving the on/off line. So, when you open the port, they go high and *poof* your computer dies.
...
That hack didn’t work out so well (damned cats), so it was retired quite awhile back. The most practical solution was to go out and BUY the DOS/Win version of Powerchute just for the black (smart) cable  :-+. I recommend doing the same thing if you actually care about this thing working properly. Of course, if you have one of the newer packages that came with PowerChute, you already have the cable you need.

Must be fortunate it didn't kill what I initially connected it to but it did power down.

Thanks for that I'll give that tool a go at some point:


http://dba.kedra.org/2013/07/power-outage.html

I just found out, that some pins on the female side are indeed shorted and the pinout is the same as what I worked out except I numbered them by parallel positioning as there were numbers on that male connector so I assumed it the same as the female connector.

I looked again what I found yesterday and I think the other confusion was with the diagrams that I mistook for an RJ 10 pin connector that I mistook for serial so sorry about that.

Thank you very much for your assistance.

Sorry about me getting confused I feel like I tripped over myself with this one with the pin outs.


« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 10:09:45 pm by MrMobodies »
 

Offline darkspr1te

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Re: Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2022, 07:00:23 am »
There isn’t and the pin out has been known for years. It’s legacy from the old old smartups pre-serial comms where the serial lines were used for dumb signalling and control. Not a conspiracy, just backward compatibility.
http://dba.kedra.org/2013/07/power-outage.html

I just found out, that some pins on the female side are indeed shorted and the pinout is the same as what I worked out except I numbered them by parallel positioning as there were numbers on that male connector so I assumed it the same as the female connector.

I looked again what I found yesterday and I think the other confusion was with the diagrams that I mistook for an RJ 10 pin connector that I mistook for serial so sorry about that.

Thank you very much for your assistance.

Sorry about me getting confused I feel like I tripped over myself with this one with the pin outs.

You will also see some APC UPS's have a RJ45/RJ11 port, if you see two of the ports that are the same type then thats the line lightning filter (old ones would be telephone line RJ11, newer would be RJ45 ethernet ) , however later models used a RJ45 for a serial port(RS232 spec)  and then even later USB via the same port (differing pinouts) both are easy to make from old USB or serial cable and a ethenet crimping tool.

You may even come across some fake APC's , these are easy to spot as they sport the newer black case style but the output ports are single units into a steel case and the serial port is always 9-pin serial port style (D9 style) , they are sorta real apc's but someone got hold of the parts to build old units into new cases(as can be seen by checking factory battery date via serial) however apc will not provide any support (cable or powerchute stuff) , i found myself in this situ when a client supplied his own UPS setup for new office install, 20 hand made serial cables later we then had issue of pc's not having serial ports so then pl2303 usb serial was purchased only to find win7/win10 drivers do not exist or hacked ones but you have to switch off driver enforcement, a royal pain i will say

darkspr1te
 
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Offline bitwelder

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Re: Scheider/APC Smart signalling bullshit (serial cable)
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2022, 12:15:10 pm »
I had a similar problem with another proud APC product. It was a switched rack PDU, basically a long bar to be installed in a server rack that has a number of IEC sockets, which can be turned on and off via its Ethernet interface.
We bought a set of those, 2nd hand, and for the initial configuration they have a RJ45 serial port.
However, although there is a very common standard for those ports (e.g. used with Cisco swirches), APC had to scramble the pins, requiring customers  to buy their serial cable.

Luckily somebody on the Internet has reverse-engineered the cable and published the pinout, so it was easy for us to just DIY the cable (which basically was used only once).
 


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