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Using breakout-server

breakout-server is provided as an alternative to the Breakout Server GUI application. It is a node.js-based server for Breakout.js, bridging serial data from an Arduino board to and from a web browser using websockets. It also provides a simple webserver for hosting static content.

If you're looking for a pure node.js implementation for Arduino, please see johnny-five and firmata.

To Install

$ npm install breakout-server

This will only install the server. You will need to clone or download Breakout.js separately. Minimally all you need from Breakout.js is the files in Breakout/dist/ and the firmware in Breakout/firmware/.

Windows users, refer to the readme for node-serialport before attempting to install breakout-server.

To Run

Install required Arduino libraries

  1. Install ConfigurableFirmata to your Arduino sketchbook library. The easiest way to get it if you are using Arduino 1.6.4 or higher is using the Arduino Library Manager. In the Arduino IDE, go to Sketch > Include Library > Manage Libraries then search for "ConfigurableFirmata" and click Install after tapping on the ConfigurableFirmata item in the filtered results. Otherwise, following the instructions in the ConfigurableFirmata readme.
  2. Download or clone Breakout.js and navigate to Breakout/firmata/BreakoutFirmata and open BreakoutFirmata.ino in the Arduino IDE. Compile and upload the sketch to your board.

Running breakout-server

Run node server.js --help to view the command line options.


You will need to provide the name of the serial port you are connecting to. You can get the name by connecting a board to your computer, and running ls /dev/tty.* in the terminal in OS X, ls /dev/ttyACM* in the terminal in Linux, or get it from the Arduino IDE under Tools -> Serial Port. When running the server, specify the port using the -p command as follows (substituting in the serial port name for your attached board):

$ node breakout-server/server.js -p /dev/cu.usbmodem14241

You can alternatively change the default serial port name by updating the following line in server.js:

  .option('-p, --port <device>', 'Specify the serial port [/dev/cu.usbmodemfd121]', '/dev/cu.usbmodemfd121')

It is important to understand the relative path from where you run breakout-server to the root of the website. You may need to supply the path using the -d option depending on the location of your index.html file relative to where you run the server from. For example, if you created a project directory and installed breakout-server into that directory using npm and you also created another folder named 'public' that contains your static files, then you would run the server from the root of the project directory as follows:

$ node breakout-server/server.js -p /dev/cu.usbmodem14241 -d public

And then in your browser navigate to: http://localhost:88887/

To run the examples included with breakout-server, navigate to the breakout-server directory and run server.js:

cd breakout-server
$ node server.js -p YOUR_SERIAL_PORT

Then navigate to http://localhost:8887/examples/simple_led.html in your browser.

To run the examples included with Breakout (Breakout/examples/) you will need to install breakout-server within the Breakout directory. This is due to the relative paths set to the file (see more about this below).

cd Breakout
$ npm install breakout-server
$ node breakout-server/server.js -p YOUR_SERIAL_PORT

And then in your browser navigate to: http://localhost:8887/examples

Schematics for the examples can be found here:

Additional command line options

There are 2 additional command line options:

  • -s is used to change the server port (default = 8887)
  • -m is used to put Breakout into a state where multiple web applications can connect to the same board. To enable it, pass -m true. However, understand that this is not practical in many situations (since 2 or more web applications could try to access the same pin on a board for example.) it's perhaps provided more of an experiment than anything else.

Including client in your index.html file

When creating your index.html file, include before the Breakout.min.js script. This is included in all of the files in Breakout/examples/ so use those as a reference.

There are two ways to include

  1. Allow the server (breakout-server/server.js) to provide it. If you take this route, you will need to ensure that the path to is relative to where you are running the server from. For example, if your project directory has breakout-server and public folders at the top level and your run the server from the top level of the directory (node breakout-server/server.js -p YOUR_SERIAL_PORT) then you would use the following path when including in your index.html file because the project root (where you are running the server from) is one level above the public folder.
<script src="../"></script>
  1. Get from a cdn (for example). This is the most flexible since you don't need to worry about the path to the server, but you'll need to be sure the version is compatible. See breakout-server/node-modules/ for the current version of the server. Also if you get this way then you can use a separate webserver for your project and simply use breakout-server as a serial to websocket bridge.

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npm i breakout-server

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