Simple serial point-to-point communication protocol


I need a simple communication protocol between two devices (a PC and a microcontroller). The PC must send some commands and parameters to the micro. The micro must transmit an array of bytes (data from sensor).

The data must be noise protected (besides parity checking, I think I need some other data correction method).

Is there any standard solution to do this? (I need only an idea, not the complete solution).

P.S. Any advice is appreciated. P.P.S Sorry for any grammar mistakes, I hope you understand.

Edit 1. I have not decided whether it will be master/slave protocol or both sides can initiate communication. The PC must know when micro have done a job and can send data. It can continuously poll the micro if data is ready, or the micro can send data, when a job is done. I don't know which is better and simpler.

Edit 2. Hardware and physical layer protocol. Since RS-232C serial standard used in the PC, I will use asynchronous communication. I will use only RxD, TxD and GND signals. I can't use additional wires because the microcontroller AFAIK doesn't support them. BTW I'm using the AVR ATmega128 chip.

So I will use fixed baud rate, 8 bits of data, 2 stop bits without parity checking (or with?).

Data link protocol. That's what my question primarily concerned about. Thanks for suggesting HDLC, PPP and Modbus protocols. I will research on it.

Best Answer

I would use HDLC. I have had good luck with it in the past. I would for a point to point serial just use the Asynchronous framing and forget about all of the other control stuff as it would probably be overkill.

In addition to using HDLC for the framing of the packet. I format my packet like the following. This is how options are passed using 802.11

U8 cmd;
U8 len;
u8 payload[len];

The total size of each command packet is len +2

You then define commands like

#define TRIGGER_SENSOR 0x01
#define SENSOR_RESPONSE 0x02

The other advantage is that you can add new commands and if you design your parser correctly to ignore undefined commands then you will have some backwards compatibility.

So putting it all together the packet would look like the following.

 // total packet length minus flags len+4
 U8 sflag;   //0x7e start of packet end of packet flag from HDLC
 U8 cmd;     //tells the other side what to do.
 U8 len;     // payload length
 U8 payload[len];  // could be zero len
 U16 crc;
 U8 eflag;   //end of frame flag

The system will then monitor the serial stream for the flag 0x7e and when it is there you check the length to see if it is pklen >= 4 and pklen=len+4 and that the crc is valid. Note do not rely on just crc for small packets you will get a lot of false positives also check length. If the length or crc does not match just reset the length and crc and start with decoding the new frame. If it is a match then copy the packet to a new buffer and pass it to your command processing function. Always reset length and crc when a flag is received.

For your command processing function grab the cmd and len and then use a switch to handle each type of command. I also require that a certain events send a response so the system behaves like a remote procedure call that is event driven.

So for example the sensor device can have a timer or respond to a command to take a reading. It then would format a packet and send it to the PC and the PC would respond that it received the packet. If not then the sensor device could resend on a timeout.

Also when you are doing a network transfer you should design it as a network stack like the OSI modle as Foredecker points don't forget about the physical layer stuff. My post with the HDLC is the data link layer and the RPC and command handling is the Application Layer.

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