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37.19 Communicating with Serial Ports

Emacs can communicate with serial ports. For interactive use, M-x serial-term opens a terminal window. In a Lisp program, make-serial-process creates a process object.

The serial port can be configured at run-time, without having to close and re-open it. The function serial-process-configure lets you change the speed, bytesize, and other parameters. In a terminal window created by serial-term, you can click on the mode line for configuration.

A serial connection is represented by a process object, which can be used in a similar way to a subprocess or network process. You can send and receive data, and configure the serial port. A serial process object has no process ID, however, and you can't send signals to it, and the status codes are different from other types of processes. delete-process on the process object or kill-buffer on the process buffer close the connection, but this does not affect the device connected to the serial port.

The function process-type returns the symbol serial for a process object representing a serial port connection.

Serial ports are available on GNU/Linux, Unix, and MS Windows systems.

— Command: serial-term port speed

Start a terminal-emulator for a serial port in a new buffer. port is the name of the serial port to connect to. For example, this could be /dev/ttyS0 on Unix. On MS Windows, this could be COM1, or \\.\COM10 (double the backslashes in Lisp strings).

speed is the speed of the serial port in bits per second. 9600 is a common value. The buffer is in Term mode; see Term Mode, for the commands to use in that buffer. You can change the speed and the configuration in the mode line menu.

— Function: make-serial-process &rest args

This function creates a process and a buffer. Arguments are specified as keyword/argument pairs. Here's the list of the meaningful keywords, with the first two (port and speed) being mandatory:

:port port
This is the name of the serial port. On Unix and GNU systems, this is a file name such as /dev/ttyS0. On Windows, this could be COM1, or \\.\COM10 for ports higher than COM9 (double the backslashes in Lisp strings).
:speed speed
The speed of the serial port in bits per second. This function calls serial-process-configure to handle the speed; see the following documentation of that function for more details.
:name name
The name of the process. If name is not given, port will serve as the process name as well.
:buffer buffer
The buffer to associate with the process. The value can be either a buffer or a string that names a buffer. Process output goes at the end of that buffer, unless you specify an output stream or filter function to handle the output. If buffer is not given, the process buffer's name is taken from the value of the :name keyword.
:coding coding
If coding is a symbol, it specifies the coding system used for both reading and writing for this process. If coding is a cons (decoding . encoding), decoding is used for reading, and encoding is used for writing. If not specified, the default is to determine the coding systems from the data itself.
:noquery query-flag
Initialize the process query flag to query-flag. See Query Before Exit. The flags defaults to nil if unspecified.
:stop bool
Start process in the “stopped” state if bool is non-nil. In the stopped state, a serial process does not accept incoming data, but you can send outgoing data. The stopped state is cleared by continue-process and set by stop-process.
:filter filter
Install filter as the process filter.
:sentinel sentinel
Install sentinel as the process sentinel.
:plist plist
Install plist as the initial plist of the process.
:bytesize
:parity
:stopbits
:flowcontrol
These are handled by serial-process-configure, which is called by make-serial-process.

The original argument list, possibly modified by later configuration, is available via the function process-contact.

Here is an example:

          (make-serial-process :port "/dev/ttyS0" :speed 9600)
— Function: serial-process-configure &rest args

This functions configures a serial port connection. Arguments are specified as keyword/argument pairs. Attributes that are not given are re-initialized from the process's current configuration (available via the function process-contact), or set to reasonable default values. The following arguments are defined:

:process process
:name name
:buffer buffer
:port port
Any of these arguments can be given to identify the process that is to be configured. If none of these arguments is given, the current buffer's process is used.
:speed speed
The speed of the serial port in bits per second, a.k.a. baud rate. The value can be any number, but most serial ports work only at a few defined values between 1200 and 115200, with 9600 being the most common value. If speed is nil, the function ignores all other arguments and does not configure the port. This may be useful for special serial ports such as Bluetooth-to-serial converters, which can only be configured through ‘AT’ commands sent through the connection. The value of nil for speed is valid only for connections that were already opened by a previous call to make-serial-process or serial-term.
:bytesize bytesize
The number of bits per byte, which can be 7 or 8. If bytesize is not given or nil, it defaults to 8.
:parity parity
The value can be nil (don't use parity), the symbol odd (use odd parity), or the symbol even (use even parity). If parity is not given, it defaults to no parity.
:stopbits stopbits
The number of stopbits used to terminate a transmission of each byte. stopbits can be 1 or 2. If stopbits is not given or nil, it defaults to 1.
:flowcontrol flowcontrol
The type of flow control to use for this connection, which is either nil (don't use flow control), the symbol hw (use RTS/CTS hardware flow control), or the symbol sw (use XON/XOFF software flow control). If flowcontrol is not given, it defaults to no flow control.

Internally, make-serial-process calls serial-process-configure for the initial configuration of the serial port.