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Easy-to-use Modbus RTU implementation for Python

Project description


MinimalModbus is an easy-to-use Python module for talking to instruments (slaves) from a computer (master) using the Modbus protocol. Example code includes drivers for Eurotherm and Omega process controllers. The only dependence is the pySerial module.

This software supports the ‘Modbus RTU’ serial communication version of the protocol, and is intended for use on Linux, OS X and Windows platforms. It is open source, and has the Apache License, Version 2.0. Tested with Python2.6, Python2.7 and Python3.2.

Home page

Home page with full API documentation (this page if viewed on

Python package index (PyPI) with download (this page if viewed on Note that no API is available). The download section is at the end of the page.

The SourceForge project page with mailing list and subversion repository ( ).

General on Modbus protocol

Modbus is a serial communications protocol published by Modicon in 1979, according to It is often used to communicate with industrial electronic devices.

There are several types of Modbus protocols:

Modbus RTU

A serial protocol that uses binary representation of the data. Supported by this software.

Modbus ASCII

A serial protocol that uses ASCII representation of the data. Not supported by this software.

Modbus TCP/IP and variants

A protocol for communication over TCP/IP networks. Not supported by this software.

For full documentation on the Modbus protocol, see

Two important documents are:

Note that the computer (master) actually is a client, and the instruments (slaves) are servers.

Typical hardware

The application for which I wrote this software is to read and write data from Eurotherm process controllers. These come with different types of communication protocols, but the controllers I prefer use the Modbus RTU protocol. MinimalModbus is intended for general communication using the Modbus RTU protocol (using a serial link), so there should be lots of applications.

As an example on the usage of MinimialModbus, the driver I use for an Eurotherm 3504 process controller is included. It uses the MinimalModbus Python module for its communication. Also a driver for Omega CN7500 is included. For hardware details on these process controllers, see Eurotherm 3500 and Omega CN7500.

There can be several instruments (slaves, nodes) on a single bus, and the slaves have addresses in the range 1 to 247. In the Modbus RTU protocol, only the master can initiate communication. The physical layer is most often the serial bus RS485, which is described at

To connect your computer to the RS485 bus, a serial port is required. There are direct USB-to-RS485 converters, but I use a USB-to-RS232 converter together with an industrial RS232-to-RS485 converter. This has the advantage that the latter is galvanically isolated using opto-couplers, and has transient supression. This software has been tested using a Westermo MDW-45 RS232-to-RS485 converter.

Typical usage

The instrument is typically connected via a serial port, and a USB-to-serial adaptor should be used on most modern computers. How to configure such a serial port is described on the pySerial page:

For example, consider an instrument (slave) with address number 1 to which we are to communicate via a serial port with the name /dev/ttyUSB1. The instrument stores the measured temperature in register 289. For this instrument a temperature of 77.2 C is stored as (the integer) 772, why we use 1 decimal. To read this data from the instrument:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import minimalmodbus

instrument = minimalmodbus.Instrument('/dev/ttyUSB1', 1) # port name, slave address (in decimal)

## Read temperature (PV = ProcessValue) ##
temperature = instrument.read_register(289, 1) # Registernumber, number of decimals
print temperature

## Change temperature setpoint (SP) ##
instrument.write_register(24, NEW_TEMPERATURE, 1) # Registernumber, value, number of decimals for storage

The full API for MinimalModbus is available on, and the documentation in PDF format is found on


It is better to put the details in a driver for the specific instrument. An example driver for Eurotherm3500 is included in this library, and it is recommended to have a look at its source code. To get the process value (PV from loop1):

#!/usr/bin/env python
import eurotherm3500

heatercontroller = eurotherm3500.Eurotherm3500('/dev/ttyUSB1', 1)  # port name, slave address

## Read temperature (PV) ##
temperature = heatercontroller.get_pv_loop1()
print temperature

## Change temperature setpoint (SP) ##

Correspondingly, to use the driver for Omega CN7500:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import omegacn7500

instrument = omegacn7500.OmegaCN7500('/dev/ttyUSB1', 1) # port name, slave address

print instrument.get_pv() # print temperature

More on the usage of MinimalModbus is found on

Default values

Most of the serial port parameters have the default values defined in the Modbus standard:

instrument.serial.port          # this is the serial port name
instrument.serial.baudrate = 19200   # Baud
instrument.serial.parity   = serial.PARITY_NONE
instrument.serial.bytesize = 8
instrument.serial.stopbits = 1
instrument.serial.timeout  = 0.05   # seconds

instrument.address     # this is the slave address number

These can be overridden:

instrument.serial.timeout = 0.2

For details on the allowed parity values, see


Python versions 2.6 and higher are supported (including 3.x). Tested with Python2.6, Python2.7 and Python3.2. This module is pure Python.

This module relies on pySerial (also pure Python) to do the heavy lifting, and it is the only dependency. You can find it at the Python package index:

Download and installation

From command line (if you have the pip installer, available at

pip install -U minimalmodbus

or possibly:

sudo pip install -U pyserial
sudo pip install -U minimalmodbus

You can also manually download the compressed source files from (see the end of that page). In that case you first need to manually install pySerial from

There are compressed source files for Unix/Linux (.tar.gz) and Windows (.zip). To install a manually downloaded file, uncompress it and run (from within the directory):

python install

or possibly:

sudo python install

If using Python 3, then install with:

sudo python3 install

There is also a Windows installer (.exe) available. Just start it and follow the instructions.

For Python3 there might be problems with easy_install and pip. In that case, first manually install pySerial and then manually install MinimalModbus.

To make sure it is installed properly, print the _getDiagnosticString() message. See the support section below for instructions.

Modbus data types

The Modbus standard defines storage in:

  • Bits

  • Registers (16-bit). Can hold integers in the range 0 to 65535 (dec), which is 0 to ffff (hex). Also called ‘unsigned INT16’ or ‘unsigned short’.

Some deviations from the official standard:

Scaling of register values

Some manufacturers store a temperature value of 77.0 C as 770 in the register, to allow room for one decimal.

Negative numbers (INT16 = short)

Some manufacturers allow negative values for some registers. Instead of an allowed integer range 0-65535, a range -32768 to 32767 is allowed. This is implemented as any received value in the upper range (32768-65535) is interpreted as negative value (in the range -32768 to -1). This is two’s complement and is described at Help functions to calculate the two’s complement value (and back) are provided in MinimalModbus.

Long integers (‘Unsigned INT32’ or ‘INT32’)

These require 32 bits, and are implemented as two consecutive 16-bit registers. The range is 0 to 4294967295, which is called ‘unsigned INT32’. Alternatively negative values can be stored if the instrument is defined that way, and is then called ‘INT32’ which has the range -2147483648 to 2147483647.

Floats (single or double precision)

Single precision floating point values (binary32) are defined by 32 bits (4 bytes), and are implemented as two consecutive 16-bit registers. Correspondingly, double precision floating point values (binary64) use 64 bits (8 bytes) and are implemented as four consecutive 16-bit registers. How to convert from the bit values to the floating point value is described in the standard IEEE 754, as seen in Unfortunately the byte order might differ between manufacturers of Modbus instruments.


Each register (16 bits) is interpreted as two characters (each 1 byte = 8 bits). Often 16 consecutive registers are used, allowing 32 characters in the string.

Implemented functions

These are the functions to use for reading and writing registers and bits of your instrument. Study the documentation of your instrument to find which Modbus function code to use.

Data type in slave


Function code


Function code



2 [or 1]


5 [or 15]

Register Integer, possibly scaled


3 [or 4]


16 [or 6]

Long (32 bits = 2 registers)


3 [or 4]



Float (32 or 64 bits)


3 [or 4]





3 [or 4]



Registers Integers


3 [or 4]



See the API for MinimalModbus on

Using multiple instruments

Use a single script for talking to all your instruments. Create several instrument objects like:

instrumentA = minimalmodbus.Instrument('/dev/ttyUSB1', 1)
instrumentB = minimalmodbus.Instrument('/dev/ttyUSB1', 2)

Running several scripts using the same port will give problems.

Issues when running under Windows

When running under Windows, the underlying pySerial may complain that the serial port is already open. This seems to occur especially when communicating with more than one instrument. It is possible to make MinimalModbus close the serial port after each call. Use it like:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import minimalmodbus
minimalmodbus.CLOSE_PORT_AFTER_EACH_CALL = True

instrument = minimalmodbus.Instrument('/dev/ttyUSB1', 1) # port name, slave address (in decimal)
print instrument.read_register(289, 1)

Modbus implementation details

In Modbus RTU, the request message is sent from the master in this format:

Slave address [1 Byte], Function code [1 Byte], Payload data [0 to 252 Bytes], CRC [2 Bytes].
  • For the function code, the allowed range is 1 to 127 (in decimal).

  • The CRC is a cyclic redundancy check code, for error checking of the message.

  • The response from the client is similar, but with other payload data.

Function code (in decimal)

Payload data to slave (Request)

Payload data from slave (Response)

1 Read bits (coils)

Start address [2 Bytes], Number of coils [2 Bytes]

Byte count [1 Byte], Value [k Bytes]

2 Read discrete inputs

Start address [2 Bytes], Number of inputs [2 Bytes]

Byte count [1 Byte], Value [k Bytes]

3 Read holding registers

Start address [2 Bytes], Number of registers [2 Bytes]

Byte count [1 Byte], Value [n*2 Bytes]

4 Read input registers

Start address [2 Bytes], Number of registers [2 Bytes]

Byte count [1 Byte], Value [n*2 Bytes]

5 Write single bit (coil)

Output address [2 Bytes], Value [2 Bytes]

Output address [2 Bytes], Value [2 Bytes]

6 Write single register

Register address [2 Bytes], Value [2 Bytes]

Register address [2 Bytes], Value [2 Bytes]

15 Write multiple bits (coils)

Start address [2 Bytes], Number of outputs [2 Bytes], Byte count [1 Byte], Value [k Bytes]

Start address [2 Bytes], Number of outputs [2 Bytes]

16 Write multiple registers

Start address [2 Bytes], Number of registers [2 Bytes], Byte count [1 Byte], Value [n*2 Bytes]

Start address [2 Bytes], Number of registers [2 Bytes]

For function code 5, the only valid values are 0000 (hex) or FF00 (hex), representing OFF and ON respectively.

It is seen in the table above that the request and response messages are similar for function code 1 to 4. The same can be said about function code 5 and 6, and also about 15 and 16.

For finding how the k Bytes for the value relates to the number of registers etc (n), see the Modbus documents referred to above.

Debug mode

To switch on the debug mode, where the communication details are printed:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import minimalmodbus

instrument = minimalmodbus.Instrument('/dev/ttyUSB1', 1) # port name, slave address (in decimal)
instrument.debug = True
print instrument.read_register(289, 1)  # Remember to use print() for Python3

With this you can easily see what is sent to and from your instrument, and immediately see what is wrong. This is very useful also if developing your own Modbus compatible electronic instruments.

Similar in interactive mode:

>>> instrument.read_register(4097,1)
MinimalModbus debug mode. Writing to instrument: '\n\x03\x10\x01\x00\x01\xd0q'
MinimalModbus debug mode. Response from instrument: '\n\x03\x02\x07\xd0\x1e)'

The data is stored internally in this driver as byte strings (representing byte values). For example a byte with value 18 (dec) = 12 (hex) = 00010010 (bin) is stored in a string of length one. This can be created using the function chr(18), or by simply typing the string '\x12' (which is a string of length 1). See for details on escape sequences.

For more information about hexadecimal numbers, see

Note that the letter A has the hexadecimal ASCII code 41, why the string '\x41' prints 'A'. The Latin-1 encoding is used (on most installations?), and the conversion table is found on

The byte strings can look pretty strange when printed, as values 0 to 31 (dec) are ASCII control signs (not corresponding to any letter). For example ‘vertical tab’ and ‘line feed’ are among those. To make the output easier to understand, print the representation, repr(). Use:

print repr(bytestringname)

Registers are 16 bit wide (2 bytes), and the data is sent with the most significant byte (MSB) before the least significant byte (LSB). This is called big-endian byte order. To find the register data value, multiply the MSB by 256 (dec) and add the LSB.


We use this example in debug mode. It reads one register (number 5) and interpret the data as having 1 decimal. The slave has address 1 (as set when creating the instrument instance), and we are using MODBUS function code 3 (the default value for read_register()):

>>> instrument.read_register(5,1)

This will be displayed:

MinimalModbus debug mode. Writing to instrument: '\x01\x03\x00\x05\x00\x01\x94\x0b'

In the section ‘Modbus implementation details’ above, the request message structure is described. See the table entry for function code 3.

Interpret the request message (8 bytes) as:








Slave address (here 1)




Function code (here 3 = read registers)




Start address MSB




Start address LSB




Number of registers MSB




Number of registers LSB









So the data in the request is:
  • Start address: 0*256 + 5 = 5 (dec)

  • Number of registers: 0*256 + 1 = 1 (dec)

The response will be displayed as:

MinimalModbus debug mode. Response from instrument: '\x01\x03\x02\x00º9÷'

Interpret the response message (7 bytes) as:








Slave address (here 1)




Function code (here 3 = read registers)




Byte count




Value MSB




Value LSB









Out of the response, this is the payload part: \x02\x00º (3 bytes)

So the data in the request is:
  • Byte count: 2 (dec)

  • Register value: 0*256 + 186 = 186 (dec)

We know since earlier that this instrument stores a temperature of 18.6 C as 186. We provide this information as the second argument in the function call read_register(5,1), why it automatically divides the register data by 10 and returns 18.6.

Special characters

Some ASCII control characters have representations like \n, and their meanings are described in this table:

repr() shows as

Can be written as

ASCII hex value

ASCII dec value






Horizontal Tab (TAB)





Linefeed (LF)





Carriage Return (CR)

It is also possible to write for example ASCII Bell (BEL, hex = 07, dec = 7) as \a, but its repr() will still print \x07.

More about ASCII control characters is found on

Trouble shooting

If there is no communication, make sure that the settings on your instrument are OK:

  • Wiring is correct

  • Communication module is set for digital communication

  • Correct protocol (Modbus)

  • Baud rate

  • Parity

  • Delay (most often not necessary)

  • Address

The corresponding settings should also be used in MinimalModbus. Check also your:

  • Port name

For troubleshooting, it is recommended to use interactive mode with debug enabled. See

If there is no response from your instrument, you can try using a lower baud rate.

See also the pySerial pages:

Known issues

For the data types involving more than one register (float, long etc), there are differences in the byte order used by different manufacturers. A floating point value of 1.0 is encoded (in single precision) as 3f800000 (hex). In this implementation the data will be sent as '\x3f\x80' and '\x00\x00' to two consecutetive registers. Make sure to test that it makes sense for your instrument. It is pretty straight-forward to change this code if some other byte order is required by anyone (see support section).

Changing close_port_after_each_call after instantiation of Instrument might be problematic. Set the value minimalmodbus.CLOSE_PORT_AFTER_EACH_CALL=True immediately after import minimalmodbus instead.

When running under Python2.6, for some conversion errors no exception is raised. For example when trying to convert a negative value to a bytestring representing an unsigned long.


Send a mail to

Describe the problem in detail, and include any error messsages. Please also include the output after running:

>>> import minimalmodbus
>>> print minimalmodbus._getDiagnosticString()

Note that it can be very helpful to switch on the debug mode, where the communication details are printed. See the ‘Debug mode’ section.

It can be helpful to describe which instrument model you are using, and possibly a link to online PDF documentation for it.


The details printed in debug mode (messages and responses) are very useful for using the included dummy_serial port for unit testing purposes. For examples, see the file test/

More implementation details are found on

Unit testing

Unit tests are provided in the test subfolder. To run them:


Also a dummy/mock/stub for the serial port, dummy_serial, is provided for test purposes. See

The test coverage analysis is found at To see which parts of the code that have been tested, click the corresponding file name.


Apache License, Version 2.0.


Jonas Berg,


Significant contributions by Aaron LaLonde and Asier Abalos.


If you find this software useful, then please like it on Facebook via

You can also leave a review on the SourceForge project page (then first make a SourceForge account).

Please also subscribe to the (low volume) mailing list (see so you can help other users getting started.


Text revision

This README file was changed (committed) at $Date: 2012-09-08 23:32:11 +0200 (Sat, 08 Sep 2012) $, which was $Revision: 166 $.

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