Using the Serial Plotter Tool

Learn how to setup and use the Serial Plotter in the Arduino IDE 2.

The Serial Plotter
The Serial Plotter

The Serial Plotter tool is a versatile tool for tracking different data that is sent from your Arduino board. It functions similarly to your standard Serial Monitor tool which is used to print data "terminal style", but is a greater visual tool that will help you understand and compare your data better.

In this tutorial, we will take a quick look on how to enable this feature (works for practically any sketch that uses serial communication), how a sample sketch looks like, and how it is expected to work.

If you need help to download and install the Arduino IDE 2, you can visit the IDE 2 downloading and installing guide. For other guides on how to use the editor, visit the IDE 2 docs.

Requirements

Goals

The goal with this tutorial is:

  • Learn how to use the Serial Plotter.
  • Create a simple sketch and test it out.

Example Sketch

To use the Serial Plotter, we will need to create a sketch and upload it to our board. This sketch needs to include at least one numerical variable, such as an

int
or
float
.

Below you will find two sketches, one using a potentiometer and

analogRead()
function, the other using the
random()
function. Both sketches have a variable named
static_variable
which has a permanent value of
500
, used as a reference value.

Choose and upload any of the examples below to your board.

Sketch (With Potentiometer)

  • int potentiometer
    - variable to store value from a potentiometer, connected to an analog pin (gives a value between 0-1023).
  • int static_variable = 500
    - variable that has an unchanged value of 500.
1int potentiometer;
2int static_variable = 500;
3
4void setup() {
5 Serial.begin(9600);
6}
7
8void loop() {
9 potentiometer = analogRead(A1);
10
11 Serial.print("Variable 1:");
12 Serial.print(potentiometer);
13 Serial.print(",");
14 Serial.print("Variable 2:");
15 Serial.println(static_variable);
16}

Sketch (Without Potentiometer)

  • int random_variable
    - variable that stores a randomized value between 0-1000.
  • int static_variable = 500
    - variable that has an unchanged value of 500.
1int random_variable;
2int static_variable = 500;
3
4void setup() {
5 Serial.begin(9600);
6}
7
8void loop() {
9 random_variable = random(0, 1000);
10
11 Serial.print("Variable 1:");
12 Serial.print(random_variable);
13 Serial.print(",");
14 Serial.print("Variable 2:");
15 Serial.println(static_variable);
16}

The Serial Plotter

Once the sketch is uploaded, we can test out the Serial Plotter.

Make sure the sketch has finished uploading before opening the Serial Plotter. You will see the text "upload complete" in the terminal output.

Navigate to Tools > Serial Plotter as shown in the image below.

Opening the Serial Plotter
Opening the Serial Plotter

If you choose the potentiometer example sketch, when turning the knob, you should be creating a "wave-like" pattern in the plotter. Here, we can use the

static_variable
as a reference, as we know it is always
500
. This is an easy example of just testing out an analog component.

The potentiometer example.

If you chose the random example sketch, when you open the plotter you will see very random spikes, as the values fluctuate rapidly.

The random example.

You can also enable/disable the variables by checking the box next to the variable name.

Enabling/disabling the variables.

Conclusion

The Serial Plotter is a really useful tool for tracking your variables. It can be used for testing and calibrating sensors, comparing values and other similar scenarios.

To learn more about the Arduino IDE 2 features, you can visit the Arduino IDE 2 docs.

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