Archive for November, 2007

Monitor Serial Port Activities

If you are developing or debugging serial-port based hardware, analyzing or reverse-engineering protocols employed by a certain serial device, or are developing software that communicates with such devices, sooner or later you’ll need to see what data comes through the COM ports.

Serial Monitor allows intercepting, monitoring and logging of all serial (COM) port traffic in real-time. It captures data transmitted through all RS232 ports on your computer simultaneously, and provides access to the COM port data in an easily readable format.

Serial (COM) ports have been around in all PCs since IBM first released a personal computer. While today more and more computers are coming without RS232 connections and are being replaced with USB, computers equipped with serial ports and RS232 hardware are still widely available on the market. These devices are usually inexpensive thanks to the simplicity of development, and provide great value to the consumers.

While developing communication software that works with devices connected through serial ports is relatively easy, it is still quite impossible to do without seeing what is being transmitted through the COM ports from the device to your software product. It is also quite impossible to develop a stable application without taking care of the various aspects of serial port programming such as different port speeds, synchronization issues, buffering, and port states.

Developing or debugging communication hardware can be even harder as hardware developers have special needs in logging and analyzing data sent or received through the COM ports. There aren’t that many development tools that help with debugging devices for COM ports.

To make things even more complicated, there aren’t many tools at all that provide any meaningful output besides the raw data. A proper tool should allow you to analyze the performance of the device, play back serial port activities in real-time or in slow motion, and transmit captured or new data to the COM port.

Serial Monitor by HHD Software is fully capable of intercepting, logging and analyzing data transferred between a Windows PC and any number of COM port devices in real-time. Sure you’ll have access to the raw COM port data, but for easy debugging and reverse-engineering a more convenient presentation of the data transmitted through the COM ports is readily available. Serial Monitor can decompose the data and provide output in the convenient MODBUS and PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) formats, allowing you to create your own MODBUS packets and transmit them to the device.

Are you using separate tools for analyzing device logs? Serial Monitor supports exporting data to several popular formats for easy analysis. Not using third-party tools? Serial Monitor has a built-in statistics analyzer offering a graphical Statistic View.

If you are used to the look of console-based serial terminals of the ancient days, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the modern sleek look and convenient views provided by Serial Monitor. HHD Software recognizes the needs of today’s developers using big-screen hi-resolution monitors, and provides a scalable, adjustable and fully customizable user interface with vector icons that look smooth at any resolution.

Serial Monitor is part of the Device Monitoring Studio family that offers USB and COM port monitoring to software and hardware developers. Serial Monitor comes in four editions and six license types, powerful enough for the most demanding user while remaining well within reach of corporate and individual developers. Download your free evaluation copy now: http://www.hhdsoftware.com/

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