Serial interfaces have been used extensively for over 30 years. The RS232 standard is still very commonly used in numerous scientific devices, lab equipment, process monitoring controllers, and many other types of peripheral devices.
A challenge when using serial interfaces and devices is found when attempting to monitor serial port activity. There are several factors that need to be considered, such as the hardware and cabling, communication settings, and protocols. To successfully monitor COM port activity and the data that is transmitted to them, you need both a dependable serial port sniffer and an inclusive log of the serial activity.
This article is meant to inform you about the best RS232 protocol analyzer tools and describe their features as well as any issues with the application. We will also talk about some of the ways that developers can be helped by using an RS232 analyzer. First, let’s look at the best RS232 monitor software tools available.
Serial Port Monitor is an RS232 monitor and analyzer developed by Eltima Software that runs on the Windows operating system. This tool makes it easy to monitor, analyze and log all serial port activity in your system.
Advanced RS232 monitor software by Eltima
Serial Port Monitor is a full-featured software utility that is used for RS232/RS422/RS485 port monitoring and analysis.
The engineers at Eltima developed this application to answer the question of how to monitor RS232 communication with a host of features that are essential for those developing or debugging serial applications or devices. Some highlights are:
The ability to open and monitor a port already opened by another application.
Four different data views. See your data in table, line, dump or terminal mode. You can also see all modes at the same time in the display window
Flexible and user-friendly interface that allows easy access to your serial ports without the need for any programming skills.
Playback and session comparison lets you repeat the exact commands or data sent to a device and automatically displays the differences between sessions.
Monitor multiple ports within one monitoring session.
Send monitored data to files or the clipboard for easy analysis.
Allows to log and analyze Modbus RTU and ASCII protocols.
Fully supports all Windows versions including Windows 10.
This professional-grade serial monitor will become an essential part of your toolbox when working with serial applications and devices.
SerialMon is a freeware application that enables you to monitor or sniff RS232 serial ports from the Windows OS. It can be run strictly as a software solution or used in conjunction with simple hardware cabling attached to the equipment you desire to monitor.
It is a small software package that will not take up any significant resources on your computer. It serves as a protocol analyzer for the ABB RP570, ABB SPA-bus, and NMEA 0183 protocols.
Free Serial Protocol Analyzer by HDD Software
Here is another free software tool that is designed to run on older versions of Windows and will allow you to display and analyze data exchanged between an application and a serial device. It was developed by professionals experienced in serial device architecture and can be a powerful tool for development, debugging, and optimizing serial applications.
One drawback to this software package is that it does not support the newer versions of the Windows OS. This makes the tool less useful than others that support Windows 10. It is worth a look if you are using Windows 2000, Vista, or other older Windows versions.
Portmon for Windows
Portmon for Windows lets you monitor and display both serial and parallel port activity on legacy versions of the Windows OS. It is meant to be run on WinNT, Windows 95, and Windows 98.
The package has a number of useful features that increase its utility for serial device or application developers. The tool supports remote monitoring across the network and lets you capture your monitoring sessions to a file for later analysis.
This tool will help you understand how RS232 serial communication works with its advanced filtering and search capabilities. You can copy a line from your output window to the clipboard for use in other programs and can set highlight colors for a more user-friendly display.
2. How can RS232 Protocol Analyzer help developers perform tasks?
Without the use of an RS232 monitoring tool, it is difficult to check the data flow between a serial port and a computer. By employing such a tool, the user can easily display, log, monitor, and analyze the serial port activity of their system. There are a number of ways that an RS232 port monitor can assist developers and make their jobs easier. Among them are:
A serial monitor lets you monitor multiple serial ports at the same time
Use of an serial monitor allows you to evaluate multiple serial ports simultaneously. This ability lets you see your system in its entirety at one time rather than having to test each port or device individually. This can save time and give you a better picture of your overall system performance as it relates to serial devices.
A COM monitor means you do not need to use extra cabling
Using an RS232 monitoring software application removes the requirement for extensive cabling to be employed. This can save money as well as reducing clutter in your office. Usually, if you are using RS232 monitoring hardware you will need expensive cables that will quickly become a nightmare to manage. Saving on the expense and hassle of cabling is an excellent reason for using a software solution like Serial Port Monitor by Eltima Software.
Latency and time-tagging issues can be minimized with a serial monitor
Time-lag issues and latency are minimized with a serial port monitor. Traditional COM port monitoring solutions often leave developers experiencing latency and time-lagging issues that make their monitoring tasks more difficult. A quality serial monitor can help eliminate these issues by presenting the monitoring information in a user-friendly manner and allowing the user to save monitoring data to a file. Time-stamping of data transmission and handshaking events make it easy to analyze your monitoring results at your convenience.
A COM monitor can be used by anyone. No programming experience is required
COM monitors typically require no programming skills to be used effectively. Installation is usually straightforward and can be done by anyone with basic computer skills. Once the tool is installed all of your serial port traffic will be monitored and can be analyzed by the proper personnel at any time.
Many diverse industries and business will find a serial monitor useful
RS232 monitors are useful to businesses in almost any industry. One of the driving forces of any business is to gain a competitive edge in its area of expertise. One way to gain an advantage over your competitors is by saving time and money in your daily operations.
Using RS232 port monitor utility can save time for your developers and money by eliminating the need for any additional hardware when working with your serial devices and applications. Companies in industries as diverse as communications, semiconductor manufacturing, design services, and industrial instrumentation all have taken advantage of RS232 monitoring software. Companies of any size can benefit from this software, and its use can help smaller companies compete with their larger competitors.