In this post I am reviewing the Airconsole 2.0 Standard serial adapter which allows you ditch the console cable and connect to your switches and routers wirelessly using the console port for out-of-band management.
TL;DR – Airconsole review = two thumb up.
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Do you know how old the DB9 connector is? After all the technology advances we still use a console cable (RJ45 to DB9) to configure our switches and routers. For years we’ve been holding on to console cables in our bags.
I had once misconfigured a switch and had to console into it to fix my mishap. Unfortunately, the switch was at the top of a 52u rack. I’m 5’6” and that rack is 8 feet tall. I was able to connect the console cable but it was too short, making me stand while holding the laptop in one hand and typing with the other.
That’s one example where the Airconsole 2.0 gives the flexibility and ease of being able to use a console connection wirelessly over Bluetooth Low Energy or Wifi. It eliminates loose dangling cables and the large cost of console servers. At home, I can finally move my lab out of the living room and into the garage.
- It’s convenient.
- Eliminates cables.
- Airconsole offers 4 port USB to serial cable kit that can act as an inexpensive console server.
Comparable console servers costs upward of $400. It’s a must have tool to keep in your bag. It’s small and lightweight to fit in your pocket. Weighing only a couple of ounces.
In my review, I am testing Airconsole with Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS. Airconsole also works on PC, Linux, iOS, and Android. Compatible iOS apps will cost between $5.99 and $9.99, RapidSSH and Get Console, respectively. I believe the Android app, Serial Bot, is free.
Air console comes in a small white box with branding. Inside the box, the Airconsole serial adapter is on the side of the box next to graphics displaying their compatibility with all formats (Mac, PC, iOS, and Android).
Underneath that packaging are the adapters that come with the Standard edition:
- Null modem
- USB to Serial cable
- Bluetooth adapter
- Mini USB cable
Looking down at the adapter there’s the logo and an LED status indicator. Airconsole will be solid red for a few seconds during the POST self test. During boot up, it will slowly blink a blue LED.
When it reaches normal operation there will be intermittent blue blinking. If the LED is a faint blue or faint blue and red LED then you need to charge it.
A solid red LED that does not change indicates there is no firmware present on the Airconsole.
If there is no LED whatsoever then you have no power.
On one end there’s an RJ45 jack. You can actually connect this to your wired network for regular wired connectivity to the Airconsole.
On the other end there’s a USB port. The USB to serial cable plugs into here. You can also charge your phone with this port.
On the side, there’s a mini usb port for charging the Airconsole. Here’s a tip, when you plug Airconsole into the console port of a switch or router, plug in the USB cable into the switch/router to keep Airconsole charged.
On the other side, there’s a switch with 3 positions:
- Charge (C)
- On (R)
Don’t use the C position to charge the Airconsole. This position is to charge up other devices such as your phone.
Next to the positions are the power LED lights. There can be up to 4 bars:
- 1 bar = less than 30 minutes remaining
- 2 bar = less than 1 hour remaining
- 3 bar = 1-2 hours remaining
- 4 bar = 3+ hours remaining
Going down the side there’s also a small reset button.
If you turn the Airconsole upside down, there is a sticker with its serial number, MAC address, SSID (for wifi connectivity), and the SSID password.
My preferred method of using Airconsole is Bluetooth. You can connect to it over the network as well.
The Airconsole drivers must be downloaded prior to connecting over Bluetooth which can be found on get-console.com.
Once the drivers are installed, open the application called AirConsoleOSX. This app will be used to connect your laptop’s Bluetooth to the Airconsole. Before opening AirConsoleOSX, ensure the bluetooth adapter is plugged into the side of the blue USB to Console cable and that cable is plugged into the USB port of the Airconsole.
Upon opening, it will scan for the Airconsole.
Once detected, click on Connect.
If successful, you will see a “Connected Airconsole” message in the window.
Now you can use your favorite terminal application to connect to the console port.
I like using terminal or iTerm with screen. To connect using your terminal application, we just need to find the tty that was created after the connection. In Terminal, type in
ls -l /dev/tty.*
That will give you a list of all available tty connections.
rowelld$ls -l /dev/tty.* crw-rw-rw- 1 root wheel 18, 4 Jul 23 22:31 /dev/tty.Airconsole-1 crw-rw-rw- 1 root wheel 18, 0 Jul 19 12:19 /dev/tty.Bluetooth-Incoming-Port crw-rw-rw- 1 root wheel 18, 2 Jul 19 12:19 /dev/tty.Bluetooth-Modem crw-rw-rw- 1 root wheel 18, 6 Jul 23 22:31 /dev/tty.NullModem-1
What we want here is tty.Airconsole-1
To connect to Airconsole, type in
I’ve created an alias for this as
Now all I have to do is type in air and it will do the rest for me. Just remember to end your session using the keyboard shortcut CTRL-A + CTRL-\ and pressing y to acknowledge.
To connect the console over Bluetooth, connect the USB adapter into the side of the USB-to-serial cable and connect to the Airconsole via Bluetooth. Just remember that Airconsole 2.0 uses Bluetooth Low Energy which means you can’t go as far as Bluetooth headsets.
There are four versions of Airconsole which is briefly summarized here:
- Mini is an ultra compact version.
- Doesn’t have a built in battery.
- Much smaller than the Standard.
- 4 hours battery life
- Includes RJ45 and DB9 adapters
- 4 hours battery life
- Includes 2 cloud connection licenses
- 12 hours battery life
- NFC Tap-to-Connect included
- Bigger than the Standard and Pro
It’s a great tool to have handy. The downside is that it runs on battery but can be charged if you have an available USB port to plug into, which is usually on the switch or router. That’s also assuming you’ve remembered to bring the USB cable with you.
At $79 for the Standard version, it can be hard to justify if you’re part of a small shop with a limited budget. But if you look at comparing it the costs of running out-of-band management appliances, then it becomes an interesting selling point.
If you’re sold, then head on over to get-console.com and use voucher code PACKET6 on checkout to receive 10% off Airconsole.