Technological Innovation

Can You Convert RS232 to RS485?


In the world of electronic communication, the ability to convert one data transmission standard to another can be crucial. One common challenge faced by engineers and technicians is converting RS232 to RS485. In this article, we will delve into the technicalities behind this conversion process and explore the tools and techniques necessary to achieve it.

The RS232 Standard

RS232, or Recommended Standard 232, is a serial communication standard widely used for connecting devices in various industries. It uses single-ended signal lines, where a voltage level is represented by a positive or negative voltage with respect to ground. The RS232 standard supports bidirectional communication between two devices, typically over relatively short distances (up to 50 feet).

The RS485 Standard

RS485, on the other hand, is a differential serial communication standard used for longer-distance communication compared to RS232. It uses two signal lines, A and B, which transmit data as complementary voltages. The distance covered by an RS485 connection can reach up to 4,000 feet, making it suitable for industrial applications that require long-range communication.

Converting RS232 to RS485

Converting RS232 signals to RS485 involves several steps and requires the use of additional components. Here's a general of the process:

1. Signal Level Conversion: RS232 uses voltage levels of ±3V to ±25V to represent binary states, while RS485 employs lower voltage levels of ±0.2V to ±6V. To bridge the gap between these voltage levels, a level converter is required to translate RS232 signals into RS485-compatible voltage levels and vice versa.

2. Signal Direction Conversion: RS232 uses a single pair of wires to transmit and receive data, but RS485 requires separate pairs of wires for transmitting and receiving. To convert the signal direction from RS232 to RS485, a transceiver chip is used. This chip enables bidirectional communication by switching between transmit and receive modes based on control signals.

3. Impedance Matching: Impedance matching ensures that the impedance of the transmission line matches the impedance of the devices connected to it. This improves signal integrity and reduces reflections. Adding termination resistors at both ends of the RS485 connection helps achieve proper impedance matching.

4. Protocol Considerations: RS232 and RS485 use different protocols for data transmission. Therefore, additional protocol converters may be required to ensure compatibility between the two standards. These converters facilitate the translation of data formats, baud rates, and other protocol-specific parameters.


Converting RS232 to RS485 involves more than just connecting wires; it requires an understanding of signal levels, direction conversion, impedance matching, and protocol considerations. By following the steps outlined in this article, engineers and technicians can successfully convert RS232 signals to RS485 and establish reliable long-distance communication.


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