ROS and Serial Communication

Recommended reading: Serial Communication, ROS Serial – Arduino tutorial, Arduino Basics

Beneath all the software abstractions, much of the communications between the devices we use daily are electrical signals, in either analog or serial form.

Analog communication utilizes all range of the voltage allotted by the medium (e.g. 0v – 5v for Arduino). The range is used to deliver a granular form of data; for example, an analog temperature sensor might indicate a low temperature with a low voltage and high temperature with high voltage. While an analog input might simplify processing of the communication (just pass the voltage levels through an equation), it is also error-prone in many of the cases due to the possibility of electrical noises.

Serial/digital communication is a form of communication that essentially utilizes bits to communicate – sending 2 kinds of voltages, no voltage indicating a low, or off, signal and some high voltage indicating an on signal. While the serial communication prevents much of the noise (by using two range of disparate volts), the devices that send and receive the communication would need some sort of a processor to process and retrieve the data that has been abstracted away.

Also, by its encoded nature, serial communication can also reduce miscommunication by using encoding schemes that guarantee that the both parties are communicating properly.

Given that the web pages above present a much better explanation of how analog and serial communications work, I’ll stop my post here. Please contact me if you need any topics clarified.

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