How to Connect a Router/Switch Through the Console Port?

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Every Cisco router/network switch has a console port on its back. It is there to provide a way to hookup a terminal to the router in order to work on it. The console port (sometimes called the management port) is used by administrators to log into a router directly — that is, without a network connection. The console must be used to install routers onto networks because, of course, at that point there is no network connection to work through.

Connecting the Console Port to a PC

How to Connect a Router, Switch Through the Console Port

Console (rollover) Cable and Adapters

The console cable can be:


Making the physical connection

Follow these steps to connect the Router/Switch to a terminal or PC running terminal emulation software:

Step 1 Locate the console port on the back of the Router/Switch.

Step 2 Connect the console (or rollover) cable to the console port on the Router/Switch.

Step 3 Use the correct adapter to connect the other end of the cable to your terminal or PC.

Step 4 If your terminal or PC has a console port that does not fit one of the adapters, you must provide the correct adapter for that port.


Connecting using HyperTerminal

Click on the HyperTerminal icon below to launch a pre-configured HyperTerminal connection. This connection is configured for use with all Cisco Router/Switches. (The Router/Switch should be connected to your laptop at this time.

Depending on your browser settings, you may initially see a message asking whether you want to open the file or save it to disk. To launch the connection now, select the “open” option. To save the connection to your local hard-drive for future use, select the “save” option.

If you selected the “open” option, you should now be communicating with the Router/Switch. If you are experiencing problems, make sure the

Router/Switch is powered on; you are attached to the proper Com Port and verify your cabling.


Setting up a HyperTerminal connection file

Using this procedure you will create a named connection that you can save and reuse. (This creates a connection identical to the one provided above, and is included primarily for your reference.)

To set up a HyperTerminal connection on your laptop:

Step 1 Click the Start button on the Windows Taskbar, and select Programs > Accessories > Communications > HyperTerminal. HyperTerminal launches and displays the Connection Description dialog box.

Alternatively, if you previously saved a connection for Cisco equipment, you can launch it by selecting Programs > Accessories > Communications > HyperTerminal > connection_name.

Step 2 Type in a name and optionally select an Icon to represent your HyperTerminal session. Click OK. The Phone Number window appears.

Step 3 Locate the Connect Using field near the bottom of the Phone Number window. Select “Direct to COM1” from the drop-down list to indicate that this connection is a local session (and not a dial-up session). Click OK. The COM1 Properties window appears.

Step 4 On the Port Settings tab, enter the following settings:

  • Speed – 9600
  • Data Bits – 8
  • Parity – none
  • Stop bits – 1
  • Flow Control – none

Step 5 Click OK to make the connection. The COM1 Properties window disappears. You should now see a blinking cursor in the HyperTerminal terminal window.

If there are any problems at this point, then see below the Troubleshooting console port problems to isolate and fix the problem.


Troubleshooting console port problems

SYMPTOM: No connection.

  • Check your laptop’s settings to see if COM1 is loaded.
  • Click on Start > Settings > Control Panel. Within the Control Panel window, open the Systems icon. Choose the Device Manager tab, and ensure that COM1 is an option on the Ports drop-down list. If COM1 is missing, reboot your laptop and repeat this check. It should now appear.


SYMPTOM: No response from Router/Switch once connected to Router/Switch via console.

  • Check to ensure you are using the correct cable (roll-over as opposed to straight through).
  • Verify that HyperTerminal is configured to use the correct communications port.


SYMPTOM: Only getting garbage from the Router/Switch.

Ensure HyperTerminal is setup using the correct speed — 9600 Baud.


References: Cabling Guide for Console and AUX Ports

Guide: Using the Cisco Console in Linux





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