11

The PiGPIO library http://abyz.me.uk/rpi/pigpio/index.html mentions that one of it's features is "software serial links using any user gpio".

I take this to mean that you can use it to generate a software UART on any 2 free GPIO pins.

In the projects' examples page, there is are no examples for this feature and I have found none on Google.

Has anyone done this? If so please point me to the example.

If not, are there any alternative libraries for bit-banging a UART?

Thanks,

13

Here is some Python I used to test the reliability of software serial. The input side is fairly trivial. You just make the appropriate bit bang serial open calls in Python or C. The output side is more involved as you have to use waveforms to construct the bit stream.

The code here is using 7-bit rather than 8-bit data. The test was written at about the same time as I was adding support for different bits per byte.

The code writes blocks of binary data to a gpio connected to a laptop (via serial dongle). The laptop echoes the incoming serial data to its output serial line. The Pi reads the serial data on another gpio.

The code checks for discrepancies between the sent and received data. The laptop is assumed to be error free, so any errors are assumed to be in the bit banging.

Looking at the logs anything less than 19.2kbps was solid. Anything up to 115.2kbps was reasonable (but would require checksumming) and 230.4kbps gave a 13% byte error rate.

#!/usr/bin/env python

# bb_serial.py
# 2014-12-23
# Public Domain

# bit bang transmit and receive of serial data
#
# tested by connecting the arbitrary RX/TX gpios to a USB
# serial dongle plugged in to a Linux box.
#
# on the Linux box set the baud and data bits (cs5-cs8)
#
# stty -F /dev/ttyUSB0 19200 cs8
# cat </dev/ttyUSB0 >/dev/ttyUSB0
#
# so the Linux box echoes back data received from the Pi.
#
# laptop timings deviations
#
# baud  exp us   act us
#   50   20000    13310 * 75
#   75   13333    13310
#  110    9091    13310 * 75
#  134    7462     6792 * 150
#  150    6667     6792
#  200    5000     6792 * 150
#  300    3333     3362
#

import sys
import time
import difflib

import pigpio

RX=19
TX=26

MSGLEN=256

if len(sys.argv) > 1:
   baud = int(sys.argv[1])
else:
   baud = 115200

if len(sys.argv) > 2:
   bits = int(sys.argv[2])
else:
   bits = 8

if len(sys.argv) > 3:
   runtime = int(sys.argv[3])
else:
   runtime = 300

ten_char_time = 100.0 / float(baud)

if ten_char_time < 0.1:
   ten_char_time = 0.1

MASK=(1<<bits)-1

# initialise test data

msg = [0] * (MSGLEN+256)

for i in range(len(msg)):
   msg[i] = i & MASK

first = 0

pi = pigpio.pi()

pi.set_mode(TX, pigpio.OUTPUT)

# fatal exceptions off (so that closing an unopened gpio doesn't error)

pigpio.exceptions = False

pi.bb_serial_read_close(RX)

# fatal exceptions on

pigpio.exceptions = True

# create a waveform representing the serial data

pi.wave_clear()

TEXT=msg[first:first+MSGLEN]
pi.wave_add_serial(TX, baud, TEXT)
wid=pi.wave_create()

# open a gpio to bit bang read the echoed data

pi.bb_serial_read_open(RX, baud, bits)

# zero error counts

bad_char = 0
total_char = 0

# run for fixed time

start=time.time()

while (time.time()-start) < runtime:

   pi.wave_send_once(wid)   # transmit serial data
   pi.wave_delete(wid)

   TXTEXT = TEXT

   first += 1
   if first >= MSGLEN:
      first = 0

   TEXT=msg[first:first+MSGLEN]
   pi.wave_add_serial(TX, baud, TEXT,bb_bits=7)

   while pi.wave_tx_busy(): # wait until all data sent
      pass

   wid=pi.wave_create()

   count = 1
   text=""
   lt = 0
   total_char += MSGLEN

   while count: # read echoed serial data
      (count, data) = pi.bb_serial_read(RX)
      if count:
         text += data
         lt += count
      time.sleep(ten_char_time) # enough time to ensure more data

   if text != TXTEXT: # Do sent and received match?
      if lt == MSGLEN: # No, is message correct length?
         for i in range(MSGLEN): # If so compare byte by byte.
            if text[i] != TXTEXT[i]:
               # print("{:2X} {:2X}".format(text[i], TXTEXT[i]))
               bad_char += 1
      else: # Wrong message length, find matching blocks.
         ok = 0
         s=difflib.SequenceMatcher(None, TXTEXT, text)
         for frag in  s.get_matching_blocks():
            ok += frag[2] # More matching bytes found.
            # print(frag)
         # print(text, MSGLEN, ok)
         if ok < MSGLEN: # Sanity check.
            bad_char += (MSGLEN - ok)
         else:
            print("*** ERRONEOUS good={} LEN={} ***".format(ok, MSGLEN))

print("secs={} baud={} bits={} bad={:.3f}%".
   format(runtime, baud, bits, float(bad_char)*100.0/float(total_char)))

print("total={} badchar={}".format(total_char, bad_char))

# free resources

pi.wave_delete(wid)

pi.bb_serial_read_close(RX)

pi.stop()

Logs

harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 230400; done
secs=300 baud=230400 bad=12.610%
total=249344 badchar=31443
secs=300 baud=230400 bad=12.580%
total=247296 badchar=31111
secs=300 baud=230400 bad=12.669%
total=246528 badchar=31232
secs=300 baud=230400 bad=12.274%
total=249600 badchar=30635
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 115200; done
secs=300 baud=115200 bad=0.378%
total=246784 badchar=934
secs=300 baud=115200 bad=0.152%
total=241408 badchar=368
secs=300 baud=115200 bad=0.189%
total=249088 badchar=472
secs=300 baud=115200 bad=0.347%
total=242688 badchar=843
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 57600; done
secs=300 baud=57600 bad=0.080%
total=220416 badchar=177
secs=300 baud=57600 bad=0.066%
total=219392 badchar=145
secs=300 baud=57600 bad=0.099%
total=219904 badchar=218
secs=300 baud=57600 bad=0.084%
total=219136 badchar=184
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 38400; done
secs=300 baud=38400 bad=0.019%
total=206336 badchar=39
secs=300 baud=38400 bad=0.021%
total=206848 badchar=43
secs=300 baud=38400 bad=0.015%
total=206592 badchar=30
secs=300 baud=38400 bad=0.030%
total=206592 badchar=61
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 19200; done
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175104 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175360 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175360 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174336 badchar=0
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 75; done
secs=300 baud=75 bad=0.000%
total=2048 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=75 bad=0.000%
total=2048 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=75 bad=0.000%
total=2048 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=75 bad=0.000%
total=2048 badchar=0
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 19200; done
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174592 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174592 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174848 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174848 badchar=0
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 19200; done
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174848 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175360 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174592 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174848 badchar=0
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 19200; done
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174592 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175104 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175104 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175360 badchar=0
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 19200; done
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175104 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174592 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174848 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175104 badchar=0
harry /ram $ for ((i=0;i<4;i++)); do /code/bb_serial.py 19200; done
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174848 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174848 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=174848 badchar=0
secs=300 baud=19200 bad=0.000%
total=175104 badchar=0
  • What serial dongle did you use? Older ones can sometimes be rather unreliable... – not2qubit Mar 15 '17 at 22:22
  • I used a PL2303HX USB To RS232 TTL 5V 3.3V Output module for the tests. £1.53 from eBay. – joan Mar 16 '17 at 7:50
  • You could easily test the reliability of the dongle; connect it's own Tx to Rx and rerun the test – earcam Nov 29 '17 at 13:24
0

When you wire Tx directly to Rx for testing w/o anything that would add error like dongles it tells you how good the library really performs.

Use GPIO 23 as Tx and GPIO 24 as Rx or other free GPIO on Raspberry Pi 3b+. This looks good in same order as the on board UART and it is practically next to it, just 3 pins to the right, with a GND pin at the right of Rx.

Results:

Until 19200bps no errors.
- 38400 and 57600 bps less 1% error sometimes
- 115200bps was 10-20% error or so
- 230400bps over 80% error or so

If you can live with 19200 or less without needing to use checksum hashes nor SPI/I2C to UART convertors - it should be fine.

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