Mac OS X Serial Terminal Programs

On April 28, 2010, in Tech, by tom

I do some embedded software development at home on my Mac, and as others in this situation know, it’s a Windows world out there. It’s fair to say that while there are some tools for embedded developers, there’s not a lot going around by way of free or open source embedded development tools.

Thus my choice of of Atmel AVR micro-controllers which are supported by the free and open avr-gcc based CrossPack development environment from Objective Development and eclipse C/C++ IDE with the AVR-eclipse plugin for an IDE. I use an Atmel AVRISP-Mk2 serial programmer with a USB-RS232 dongle and this works fine with Avrdude for programming devices. I also sometimes use Arduino and its development environment, and recommend it for anyone starting out programming micro-controllers.

However I have long been on the look out for a reliable, fairly simple serial terminal program for OS X for debugging purposes. It’s always useful to have serial terminal to display program flow information and register settings or to interact with the micro-controller, but I have had trouble finding one which suits my needs. I have tried the various “screen” command line tricks but found this lacking in flexibility, and I have tried ZTerm and found it unreliable, always messing up characters and I wasn’t about to go through the pain of setting up and using minicom. So the search continued.

Until today, when I found 2 new programs I’d not seen before: CoolTerm and goSerial. CoolTerm looks a little more full featured and polished at this stage and I’m happy with it’s performance. It’s more reliable than ZTerm from my short experience with it today.

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