ITP Notebook

Lab: Serial Input to P5

October 15, 2020

Physical Computing

Lab Guide

In this lab I connected data gathered by an Arduino to JavaScript code running in the browser. The circuit consisted of a linear potentiometer connected to my Arduino Nano 33 IOT.

The circuit The circuit

After installing P5 Serial Control, I was able to read serial data coming from the microcontroller in the P5 web editor with the help of the p5.serialport library. Once everything was connected properly I implemented a simple sketch that displays the potentiometer value.

Displaying the potentiometer value

I could then write a more complex program that graphs the value over time.

Drawing a graph using physical controls

The JavaScript code:

var serial;
const PORT_NAME = '/dev/tty.usbmodem142301';
var inData;
var xPos = 0;

function setup() {
  serial = new p5.SerialPort();

  serial.on('connected', serverConnected);
  serial.on('open', portOpen);
  serial.on('data', serialEvent);
  serial.on('error', serialError);
  serial.on('close', portClose);


  createCanvas(400, 300);

function graphData(newData) {
  var yPos = map(newData, 0, 255, 0, height);
  stroke(0xa8, 0xd9, 0xa7);
  line(xPos, height, xPos, height - yPos);
  if (xPos >= width) {
    xPos = 0;
    background(0x08, 0x16, 0x40);
  } else {

function draw() {

function serverConnected() {
  console.log('connected to server.');

function portOpen() {
  console.log('the serial port opened.');

function serialEvent() {
  var inString = serial.readLine();
  if (inString.length > 0) {
    inData = Number(inString);

function serialError(err) {
  console.log('Something went wrong with the serial port. ' + err);

function portClose() {
  console.log('The serial port closed.');

The Arduino code:

void setup() {

void loop() {
  int potentiometer = analogRead(A0);
  int mappedPot = map(potentiometer, 0, 1023, 0, 255);