CSerial – A C++ Class for Serial Communications

This article was contributed by
Tom Archer and Rick Leinecker.


This class is meant as a very simple alternative to the more robust, feature-rich
CSerialPort class
presented by Remon Spekreijse. In other words, if you need a very simple class
to read or write data to the serial port, then this class might be perfect for you.
However, if you need more control over just how the serial communications is to be
conducted, then Remon’s very fine class will probably be what you want.


Common uses of remote communications are business applications that
link differnet sites in order to keep tabs on inventories and transactions. For
example, I once wrote a large drug-dispensing proram in which many
clinic sites automatically received new orders and updated pharmacy information
each evening from a centry host location. The centry host gets
inventory levels and transaction information from each site during evening
hours. A large part of my time was spent construction telecommunications
routines that sent and received information packets. To that extent, I offer this
simple CSerial class in the hopes that it will save someone from the grungy world
of serial communications that I had to endure and will free your mind up to
concentrate on the problem domain.

CSerial class member functions

  • CSerial::CSerial()
  • CSerial::CSerial() – Basic c’tor that takes no arguments.
  • CSerial::Open(int nPort = 2, int nBaud = 9600 )
    This member function is used to open the serial port. It takes two interger
    arguments. The first argument contains the port number where the valid entries
    are 1 through 4. The second argument is the baud rate. Valid values for this
    argument are 1200, 2400, 4800, 9600, 19200, 38400 and 76800. This function returns
    TRUE if successful. Otherwise, it returns a value of FALSE.
  • CSerial::Close() – While the d’tor will automatically close
    the serial port for you, this function has been added just in case there is a reason
    that you need to explicit close the port.
  • CSerial::SendData(const char *, int) – This function writes data from
    a buffer to the serial port. The first argument it takes is a const char* to a buffer
    that contains the data being sent. The second argument is the number of bytes being sent.
    This function will return the actual number of bytes that are succesfully transmitted.
  • CSerial::ReadDataWaiting(void) – This function simply returns the
    number of bytes that waiting in the communication port’s buffer. It basically allows you
    to “peek” at the buffer without actually retrieving the data.
  • CSerial::ReadData(void*, int) – This function reads data from the port’s incoming
    buffer. The first argument that it takes is a void* to a buffer into which the data
    will be placed. The second argument is an integer value that gives the
    size of the buffer. The return value of this function contains the number of bytes
    that were successfully read into the provided data buffer.

Example Usage

Here are some examples of how easy it is to use this class.

Opening the serial port

CSerial serial;
if (serial.Open(2, 9600))
 AfxMessageBox("Port opened successfully");
 AfxMessageBox("Failed to open port!");

Sending Data

CSerial serial;
if (serial.Open(2, 9600))
 static char* szMessage[] = "This is test data";
 int nBytesSent = serial.SendData(szMessage, strlen(szMessage));
 ASSERT(nBytesSent == strlen(szMessage));
 AfxMessageBox("Failed to open port!");

Reading Data

CSerial serial;
if (serial.Open(2, 9600))
 char* lpBuffer = new char[500];
 int nBytesRead = serial.ReadData(lpBuffer, 500);
 delete []lpBuffer;
 AfxMessageBox("Failed to open port!");


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