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A User's Guide

What is pymata-express?

Pymata-Express is a Python 3 compatible (Version 3.7 or above) Firmata Protocol client. When used in conjunction with an Arduino Firmata sketch, it permits you to control and monitor Arduino hardware remotely over a serial link.

Like its conventional sibling pymata4, pymata-express allows you to take advantage of the advanced feature set of the FirmataExpress (recommended) or StandardFirmata Arduino server sketches. However, unlike its conventional sibling, pymata-expresses implements its API utilizing the Python asyncio package.

Pymata-Express Major Features:

  • Applications are programmed using the Python 3 asyncio package.
  • Data change events may be associated with a callback function for asynchronous notification, or polling may be used when a synchronous approach is desired.
  • Each data change event is time-stamped and stored.
  • API Reference Documentation is available online.
  • A full set of working examples are available for download online.
  • Supports StandardFirmataWiFi.

Why Use Asyncio?

You may be wondering why you might consider using pymata-express instead of pymata4. Pymata-express tends to execute more quickly than pymata4 and at a lower CPU utilization rate.

If you run the examples available in both packages, pymata-express completes the task approximately 10% faster than pymata4 and at a significantly lower CPU utilization rate.

That being said, if you are not already familiar with asyncio, you may find the asyncio learning curve is rather steep (but worth it, in my opinion). If you are more comfortable with traditional Python programming, then pymata4 may be the better choice.

Both packages have similar APIs, and the set of examples provided in each package parallels the other. Compare examples to get an understanding of the differences

No matter which package you pick, since the APIs between the two packages are so similar, converting an application from one API to another should be straight forward.

Advantages of Using The FirmataExpress Sketch Over StandardFirmata:

  • The data link runs at 115200, twice the speed of StandardFirmata.
  • Advanced Arduino auto-discovery support is provided.
  • Additional hardware support is provided for:
    • HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensors.
    • DHT Humidity/Temperature sensors (in collaboration with Martyn Wheeler).
    • Stepper motors.
    • Tone generation for piezo devices.

An Intuitive And Easy To use API

For example, to receive asynchronous digital pin state data change notifications, you simply do the following:

  1. Set a pin mode for the pin and register a callback function.
  2. Have your application sit in a loop waiting for notifications.

When pymata-express executes your callback method, the data parameter will contain a list of items that describe the change event, including a time-stamp.

Here is an example demonstrating using a callback to monitor the state changes of a digital input pin.

import asyncio
import time
import sys
from pymata_express import pymata_express

Setup a pin for digital input and monitor its changes
using a callback.

# Setup a pin for analog input and monitor its changes
DIGITAL_PIN = 12  # arduino pin number
IDLE_TIME = .001  # number of seconds for idle loop to sleep

# Callback data indices
# Callback data indices
CB_PIN = 1

async def the_callback(data):
    A callback function to report data changes.
    This will print the pin number, its reported value and
    the date and time when the change occurred

    :param data: [pin, current reported value, pin_mode, timestamp]
    date = time.strftime('%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S', time.localtime(data[CB_TIME]))
    print(f'Pin: {data[CB_PIN]} Value: {data[CB_VALUE]} Time Stamp: {date}')

async def digital_in(my_board, pin):
     This function establishes the pin as a
     digital input. Any changes on this pin will
     be reported through the call back function.

     :param my_board: a pymata_express instance
     :param pin: Arduino pin number

    # set the pin mode
    await my_board.set_pin_mode_digital_input(pin, callback=the_callback)

    while True:
            await asyncio.sleep(IDLE_TIME)
        except KeyboardInterrupt:
            await board.shutdown()

# get the event loop
loop = asyncio.get_event_loop()

# instantiate pymata_express
board = pymata_express.PymataExpress()

    # start the main function
    loop.run_until_complete(digital_in(board, 12))
except (KeyboardInterrupt, RuntimeError) as e:

Sample console output as input change events occur:

Pin: 12 Value: 0 Time Stamp: 2020-03-10 13:26:22
Pin: 12 Value: 1 Time Stamp: 2020-03-10 13:26:27

What You Will Find In This Document

Copyright (C) 2020 Alan Yorinks. All Rights Reserved.

Last updated 3 July 2020 For Release v1.18