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I just recently started using a Sparkfun serial LCD. I am able to control it through an arduino, but I want to be able to control it through a terminal on my computer. To be able to move the cursor or clear the screen, you need to be able to send hexadecimal code to it, for example, 0xFE. I am unable to find an open source terminal program for Windows that will give me this functionality. An example of a program that works very well is Eltima serial port monitor, although it is rather expensive for just a student. I have a USB to serial FTDI breakout board to get the signal to the LCD. Any suggestions as for programs, under Windows 7, will be greatly appreciated.

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12 Answers 12

up vote 20 down vote accepted

I just write short Python programs using pySerial:

>>> import serial
>>> ser = serial.Serial(0)  # open first serial port
>>> print ser.portstr       # check which port was really used
>>> ser.write("hello")      # write a string
>>> ser.write(0xa4)         # write a byte
>>> ser.close()             # close port
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You want something like PuTTY or TeraTerm for human-readable serial i/o, or a good programming environment that makes it easy to open/access serial ports. I'm not a Python expert but MrEvil has a good point. Also the jsdb Javascript shell has an easy-to-use COM port feature:

S = new Stream('com1://115200');
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+1 for TeraTerm. Friends don't let friends use Hyperterm. However, for protocols with a lot of binary and checksums or CRC, there's no substitute for having something like Python, Lua or Perl in your toolbag, along with an understanding of your language's best way of using and controlling a serial port. – RBerteig Mar 23 '11 at 8:25

take a look at bray terminal at http://hw-server.com/software/termv19b.html

i think it's the best free terminal

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As everyone said before: Realterm. It's my #1 serial terminal program PERIOD.

Apart from that you may get good results with several other programs/hardware combinations:

Bus Pirate has a built-in LCD mode and can interface to nearly any serial device on any serial interface. You communicate with it via terminal software or Python, C, etc

Docklight is a terminal spying program/terminal scripting program that you may like. I've only begun to look into it but it seems like it has some good features.

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I couldn't install it on Windows 7 x64. This is the first installer that tells me that I should ask for a platform specific version – Jader Dias Oct 12 '10 at 1:21

See http://www.opencircuits.com/PC-Microcontroller_Communications for a discussion of serial monitors, mostly free.

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I find that RealTerm works for all of my serial port applications. I'm not sure if you are looking to programatically control the LCD or just manually send data/commands to it. RealTerm will let you send hex or ASCII values to to the serial port. It's a little buggy sometimes, but it's great for the price (free).


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I use RealTerm, as well. It's very good. – Leon Heller Mar 9 '10 at 19:20
I couldn't install it on Windows 7 x64. This is the first installer that tells me that I should ask for a platform specific version – Jader Dias Oct 30 '10 at 22:17
I'm not sure. I've only used it in Windows XP. – mjh2007 Nov 1 '10 at 12:40

My current favorite is MTTTY and can be downloaded from http://www.netburner.com/support/public_downloads.html

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Cool Term is pretty good and win/os x cross platform.


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On unixy systems, "screen /dev/ttyxxx" is pretty handy. I used to use cu a lot but there's a long standing bug in turning off flow control so it's less useful for embedded systems. Then there's Kermit. In all cases, the system's terminal emulation is put to good use instead of trying to reinvent one just for serial communication.

On windos, I second putty or possibly teraterm. Putty makes a good ssh client, too, so it's handy to have around anyway.

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You can use X-CTU, which is a lightweight XBee programmer that has a very good serial terminal in one of its 4 tabs. It features

  • Hexadecimal view
  • Text view
  • CTS, CD and DSR line statuses
  • DTR, RTS and Break assertions
  • 1-click port opening and closing
  • Text editor for sending data in packets
  • Clear screen button
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I also found this excelent option: HTerm by Der-Hammer


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I had the same problem with my sparkFun LCD, and found Termite by CompuPhase, and it worked fine. On linux i just used stty and echo from bash.

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protected by Kortuk Dec 30 '12 at 6:25

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