pyserial - How to read the last line sent from a serial device


I have an Arduino connected to my computer running a loop, sending a value over the serial port back to the computer every 100 ms.

I want to make a Python script that will read from the serial port only every few seconds, so I want it to just see the last thing sent from the Arduino.

How do you do this in Pyserial?

Here's the code I tried which does't work. It reads the lines sequentially.

import serial
import time

ser = serial.Serial('com4',9600,timeout=1)
while 1:
    print ser.readline() #How do I get the most recent line sent from the device?
3/15/2015 3:52:08 PM

Accepted Answer

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your question, but as it's a serial line, you'll have to read everything sent from the Arduino sequentially - it'll be buffered up in the Arduino until you read it.

If you want to have a status display which shows the latest thing sent - use a thread which incorporates the code in your question (minus the sleep), and keep the last complete line read as the latest line from the Arduino.

Update: mtasic's example code is quite good, but if the Arduino has sent a partial line when inWaiting() is called, you'll get a truncated line. Instead, what you want to do is to put the last complete line into last_received, and keep the partial line in buffer so that it can be appended to the next time round the loop. Something like this:

def receiving(ser):
    global last_received

    buffer_string = ''
    while True:
        buffer_string = buffer_string +
        if '\n' in buffer_string:
            lines = buffer_string.split('\n') # Guaranteed to have at least 2 entries
            last_received = lines[-2]
            #If the Arduino sends lots of empty lines, you'll lose the
            #last filled line, so you could make the above statement conditional
            #like so: if lines[-2]: last_received = lines[-2]
            buffer_string = lines[-1]

Regarding use of readline(): Here's what the Pyserial documentation has to say (slightly edited for clarity and with a mention to readlines()):

Be careful when using "readline". Do specify a timeout when opening the serial port, otherwise it could block forever if no newline character is received. Also note that "readlines()" only works with a timeout. It depends on having a timeout and interprets that as EOF (end of file).

which seems quite reasonable to me!

3/15/2015 3:53:56 PM

from serial import *
from threading import Thread

last_received = ''

def receiving(ser):
    global last_received
    buffer = ''

    while True:
        # last_received = ser.readline()
        buffer +=
        if '\n' in buffer:
            last_received, buffer = buffer.split('\n')[-2:]

if __name__ ==  '__main__':
    ser = Serial(

    Thread(target=receiving, args=(ser,)).start()

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