Ultimate Serial Port Tool

Ultimate Serial Port Tool is a multi-function programmable instrument used for capturing, visualizing, and sending serial data.

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In the art of learning the software/hardware interface, instrumentation can mean the difference between a project meeting a deadline or pulling your hair out. Knowing what is happening on the wires between your processor and the peripheral, whether it is a Raspberry Pi talking to a uBlox GPS, or a Microchip PIC talking to a cellular modem or an MSP430 talking to an SD card, is critical to making a robust software interface.

This project is currently active on Kickstarter and you can view the project here.

What is the Ultimate Serial Port Tool?

USPT is a combination of hardware and software which connects up to 4 serial port analyzers thru a single USB cable to a PC. One version is geared towards UART development which is still a very prevalent interace in cellular modems, GPS modules, WiFi modules, Bluetooth modules and others. Particularly with UARTs, there is no single tool which can correlate both the Tx and Rx signals in time with respect to each other. Another version is geared towards SPI and I2C development which would be more useful for interfacing to serial memories or interprocessor connections.

The power behind UPST lies in the software interface which has the ablity to view data in many different scenarios such as timeline, packet sequence, byte timing ASCII, HEX, binary, and mixed modes. Log files can be captured over a period of time and opened up at a later time with full timing information as if the capture had just occurred. Data can be filtered by value, sequences or timing and can even be used to set up triggers which act like bookmarks so you can easily find specific data which may have been captured over a long 3 day weekend. With the correct hardware design, data can be injected into either Tx or Rx wires right from the PC and the results can be monitored in real time.

We designed UPST as a tool that you can use to troubleshoot your projects in real time whether it is a data collection gateway, a sensor fusion chip, an SD card or a BTLE module. You can monitor data over long periods and get a better picture of what is happening in your design.

  • Software is the key

    Ryan C. Minnig04/18/2017 at 03:49 0 comments

    A friendly user interface can be the difference between a paperweight and a powerful tool for daily use. The Ultimate Serial Port Tool is getting it's first testing with the new UI which lets users have a lot of control over configuration of the hardware. The basic "port, baud, N,8,1" is only the start with the USPT hardware. The hardware is maturing the electrical interface and now the software is setting the procedural aspects of the communication. We are also starting to look at the higher level "protocol" part of the equation which is a unique way at looking at not only "RAW" data, but packetized chunks of asynchronous data as well. Anyone who has done UART development from a microcontroller to a peripheral knows PuTTy. We are now moving beyond PuTTy so users can understand the groups of data the flow from their devices, not just a raw stream of bytes with no timing information. We have some unique ways of viewing data that will provide insight you haven't seen before with asynchronous data.

    Be looking for screen shots in the next few days to get an idea of what to expect as an interface to the already powerful and highly configurable hardware.

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huangxiangc wrote 10/29/2017 at 05:19 point


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Bharbour wrote 04/16/2017 at 00:48 point

Good Idea! I use a commercial version of this for working with I2C and SPI traffic all the time, and a home hacked version for async serial traffic. The software application is going to make or break this as a product. 

One feature that would increase the usefulness a lot is to add adjustable I/O level shifting. Probably 1.5V to 5.0V range would cover it.

Good Luck,


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Ryan C. Minnig wrote 04/16/2017 at 01:59 point

Thanks BobH.  I'm mostly focusing on the software for the UART portion of this hardware because of other tools like the Beagle, Cheetah etc. from TotalPhase.  The software is the key because of the asynchronous nature of UARTs and the timing between micro-controller and peripheral.  I already have level shifting in my sights and also one of the ports with an opto-coupler interface to remove the possibility of ground currents from the USB o PC connection.  This will be part of the Rev. B hardware.

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Bharbour wrote 04/16/2017 at 16:07 point

TotalPhase is the commercial tool vendor that I was referring to. I think that they have an RS232 tool, but it lacks the adjustable level shifting. I do a lot of FPGA and embedded system work and especially with the FPGA stuff, 1.8V and 2.5V were showing up a lot in addition to the 3.3V and 5V.

There might also be a niche for RS485/RS422 which would be a simple hardware addition to the FTDI. I just finished a short gig in industrial electronics work, and RS485 seems to show up there fairly often. That probably ought to be a separate board though, or there will be too much clutter.

Good Luck,


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