Serial connections and threads in a GUI

Aaron Hoover ahoover at
Tue Sep 29 23:56:05 CEST 2009

I have a wx-based GUI application that I'd like to have read  
"streaming" data from a serial port and plot that data using  
matplotlib and a figure canvas. It's a robotic application where the  
workflow goes something like this:

1) Connect to robot
2) Configure robot settings
3) Command robot to do something for time, t
	- While robot does something, read sensor data and plot
4) End of t seconds, resume at (2)

I have the application reading from the serial port in a separate  
thread, but my problem is this - I'd like the user to be able to write  
to the serial port by interacting with the GUI between runs. However,  
the infinite loop running inside the thread responsible for receiving  
data has exclusive access to the serial connection object.

Because of how the application works, I know that I won't need to  
write to the serial port when I'm in the middle of receiving data, so  
that simplifies things somewhat. But, how can I allow the thread  
access to the connection for reading, but then have it give up control  
over the connection when it's done so the main GUI thread can access  
the connection again for writing?

Currently, I have the thread's run() method exit when it's done  
receiving data. But, that means that I can only receive data again  
using the same thread by calling run(), blocking the main GUI thread  
from updating the plot until it completes.

This is my first go at using threads in Python, so I'm sure there's a  
straightforward way to do this that I'm just missing. At any rate,  
thanks in advance for your patience and assistance.


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