PIC Chip Communication with a PC

Simple Serial - Controlling PIC Chips With Java (On Windows)

Download SimpleSerial Here

January 7, 2001 -- New Release:  SimpleSerial was incorrectly reading negative values from the serial port.  This bug has been fixed in the current version.  This new version also adds the ability to switch between using included Windows DLL and the JavaComm package from sun.  If you have troubles with my code and suspect it's buggy, you can now switch to Sun's package without rewriting any code.  

January 20, 2001 -- New Release  Better error messages.  Now if something goes wrong, SimpleSerial will actually tell you about it.

The previous version of SimpleSerial can be found here.

Controlling PIC chips with Java is easy and fun. It's simply a matter of reading and writing the serial port. The JavaComm package from Sun accomplishes this, but it's tricky to install and use. For heavy-duty serial port applications that require more than simple IO, that's the package for you. For most PIC chip applications, the "Simple Serial" package described here is what you want.  SimpleSerial is especially useful if you're going to be running on several different machines and don't have time to set up the environment on each one.  As long as you have SimpleSerialNative.dll in the same folder as your java code, (and the machine runs java), you're all set.  Because SimpleSerialNative.dll is small (28k), everything can fit on a single floppy disk.  SimpleSerial lets to communicate with the serial port using a handful of lines of code.

SimpleSerial was designed for Windows machines, but will work on any machine that supports Sun's JavaComm package.  Therefore, the code you write is still portable across platforms.

SimpleSerial was developed in Java 1.2 on Windows2000 using Symantec Visual Café 4.0.

If you're interested in SimpleSerial, please email benres@media.mit.edu with comments and suggestions.  I will let you know of any bug fixes or improvements.

  1. Download "SimpleSerial.zip", and unzip somewhere useful.

  2. Double click on JavaTerm.bat.  It runs a serial port terminal emulation program similar to HyperTerm.

  3. To build in Windows, double-click on SimpleSerial.vep to launch VisualCafe. If you're not using VisualCafe, you can build and run from the command line.
    To build: javac JavaTerm.java
    To run: java JavaTerm

  4. Run the included "JavaTerm" terminal emulation program.

Including SimpleSerial in your own project

  1. Include the following three files in your project:
    - SimpleSerial.java
    - SimpleSerialNative.java
    - SimpleSerialJava.java 

  2. Make sure SimpleSerialNative.dll is in the same folder as your .java files.  Alternatively, you can put it in your Windows/System folder.  If you don't do this, you'll get an "unsatisfied link error" when you run SimpleSerial.

  3. If "SimpleSerialJava.java" doesn't compile, remove it.  It means you don't have JavaComm installed.  You only need "SimpleSerialJava.java" if you want to use Sun's JavaComm as the glue between SimpleSerial and the actual serialport. 

  4. The code you write will look something like this:
public static void main(String args[]) {
    SimpleSerial ss; // declare the SimpleSerial object

    ss = new SimpleSerialNative(2); // new up the SimpleSerial object

    ss.writeByte((byte)'a'); // write a byte to the serial port

    // Give the PIC chip time to digest the byte to make sure it's ready for the next byte.
    try { Thread.sleep(1); } catch (InterruptedException e) {}

    ss.writeByte((byte)'!'); // write another byte to the serial port

    String inputString = ss.readString(); // read any string from the serial port.
    System.out.println("I read the string: " + inputString);

For more information about individual calls, see the comments in SimpleSerial.java.  



Controlling PIC Chips With your Palm Pilot

Palm Pilots contains a serial port just like that on your PIC chip or PC. Palm Pilots can communicate with PIC chips through a terminal emulation program, just like "Hyperterm" on the PC. Using the Palm Pilot to control your PIC, though, is significantly easier and more portable.

  1. Download and install the terminal software on your Palm Pilot. I'm using a shareware program called Online, which is available at: http://www.markspace.com/online.html. If you have trouble with this link, search on http://www.download.com.  You can also download my cached copy here.
  2. In the "Communications" menu for Online, configure for 9600 Baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, and "CR+LF" for Return. Leave "XON/XOFF" and "RTS/CTS" unchecked. On the main screen, check the box in the lower left corner that says "O" (online), and you're ready to go.
  3. To test communications, place your pilot in its cradle. Exit your hotsynch manager to free up the pilot serial port.
  4. Launch SimpleSerialEXE (or some other terminal program such as Hyperterm). Select the proper serial port from the menu. Type a few characters on the keyboard, and watch them appear on the pilot. Similarly, type some characters on the pilot, and see them appear on the screen. Communication is working.
  5. To connect the PIC chip to your pilot, you'll need a female-female gender changer, a null modem, and the Palm Pilot cable. The null modem swaps lines 2 and 3 of the serial port so the TX is connected to the RX, and vica-versa. Make sure you're using a null modem and not a gender changer or extension. The look similar. Null Modems typically say "Null Modem" on them. Gender changers and null modems are available from Radio Shack.

    Connect as shown:

    NOTE: To avoid lugging around your HotSynch cradle, Pilot sells portable serial cables that plug directly into your pilot.


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