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Arduino and real time charts in Excel

plots graphs in real time with Arduino and Excel

One of the most important things in the robot design is the possibility to check and control the values feeded by the analogic sensors, i.e. accelerometers, gyros, IR sensors. In order to view the sensor values you can use the Serial Port that can be displayed in the Serial Monitor inside the Arduino IDE environment. But it isn’t possible to show charts or save the data read from the sensors.

There are several software that allow to show the graphs derived from the sensors data, and I published in the past a LMR tutorial (here). Usually you use Processing or similar language that require always to write some code. You have to write code to change the charts or to implement new lines in the graphs.

I thought that the ideal situation would be to use a software that everyone knows: Microsoft Excel. If it were possible to use Excel to receive the data from the serial port, it would be easy to make very nice and user friendly charts. I searched in Google and i found a sw that allows easily to view the serial port values in Excel.

The sw is made by a competitor of Arduino, Parallax, the company that sells the Boe-Bot and the Propeller, wich are in direct competition with Arduino. The sw is called PLX-DAQ and it is a free software. You can download it here. It works only in Windows, sorry.

In practice it is a little sw in VBA that adds some features to Excel to receive and elaborate real time data. If the data are in Excel it is also possible to save them in a file and it is possible to use the amazing function library already present in the spreadsheet software. The documentation about PLX-DAQ is complete and clear. 

Other details, code for Arduino, command explanation here: http://robottini.altervista.org/arduino-and-real-time-charts-in-excel

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Great post! Thanks!

I usualy dont use ms sw but I will try this one .

it is very important, if your computer isn't a very fast computer, to separate the data feeding sheet and the sheet with the graph. The plotting activity is CPU and GPU time consuming, so the computer can't take the data from serial and plot the graph at the same time. If the graph is created in another sheet, in background, the plotting is fast and the computer can manage the data feeding and the plotting at the same time.

Very interesting article. will try this in the next days just to see what I can do with that data.

Hi alegiaco,

For those of us that use linux or other non-windows, the same can be achived in libre office/ open office.

Here's an example.


Thanks ...excellent post!

I was hoping you could help me or point me in the right direction. I am looking to display analog/sensor readings from ioio in real time (or 1 reading per second) in a spreadsheet and also control the outputs to signal a relay from from the spreadsheet. I am not a programmer, dont even know where to start, but thought I could use excel logic to isue commands based on the feedback from the sensors. 

Any help would be really really


If one really wants to be industrious and make this work with anything there's also a java api






thank you it is very useful tool. i was using an other excel file found in the net (XLCOMM97.xls). it uses some Visual Basic Scripts to control the serial port read and write. however it requires a good programming knowledge and timing is not easy to sync with the arduino.

The PLX-DAQ dose not require this low level programing it is easier to work with.

thank you for the information sharing.