Capabilities and Supported Interfaces and Platforms

What Is the MATLAB Serial Port Interface?

The MATLAB® serial port interface provides direct access to peripheral devices such as modems, printers, and scientific instruments that you connect to your computer's serial port. This interface is established through a serial port object. The serial port object supports functions and properties that allow you to

  • Configure serial port communications

  • Use serial port control pins

  • Write and read data

  • Use events and callbacks

  • Record information to disk

Instrument Control Toolbox™ software provides additional serial port functionality. In addition to command-line access, this toolbox has a graphical tool called the Test & Measurement Tool, which allows you to communicate with, configure, and transfer data with your serial device without writing code. The Test & Measurement Tool generates MATLAB code for your serial device that you can later reuse to communicate with your device or to develop UI-based applications. The toolbox includes additional serial I/O utility functions that facilitate object creation and configuration, instrument communication, and so on. With the toolbox you can communicate with GPIB- or VISA-compatible instruments.

If you want to communicate with PC-compatible data acquisition hardware such as multifunction I/O boards, you need Data Acquisition Toolbox™ software.

For more information about these products, visit the MathWorks website at

Supported Serial Port Interface Standards

Over the years, several serial port interface standards have been developed. These standards include RS-232, RS-422, and RS-485 - all of which are supported by the MATLAB serial port object. Of these, the most widely used interface standard for connecting computers to peripheral devices is RS-232.

This guide assumes you are using the RS-232 standard, discussed in Overview of the Serial Port. Refer to your computer and device documentation to see which interface standard you can use.

Supported Platforms

The MATLAB serial port interface is supported on:

  • Linux® 64-bit

  • 64-bit

  • Microsoft® Windows® 64-bit

Using the Examples with Your Device

Many of the examples in this section reflect specific peripheral devices connected to a serial port — in particular a Tektronix® TDS 210 two-channel oscilloscope connected to the COM1 port, on a Windows platform. Therefore, many of the string commands are specific to this instrument and platform.

If you are using a different platform, or your peripheral device is connected to a different serial port, or if it accepts different commands, modify the examples accordingly.

Find Available Serial Ports Using the seriallist Function

The seriallist function returns a list of all serial ports on a system. The list includes virtual serial ports provided by USB-to-serial devices and Bluetooth Serial Port Profile devices. This provides a list of the serial ports that you have access to on your computer and could use for serial port communication. For example:


ans = 

  1×2 string array

  "COM1"    "COM3"