I'm working with an SDS011 particular sensor through its serial interface. The spec sheet (http://inovafitness.com/upload/file/20150311/14261262164716.pdf) indicates that the second to last byte of a serial packet is a checksum equal to sum of all the data bytes.

I am using pyserial to read and interpret the serial data. Here's a snippet of the code:

import serial

def read_sensor(port):
    while True:
        header = port.read(2)
        if header == b'\xAA\xC0':
            data = port.read(6)
            checksum = port.read()
            tail = port.read()
            if tail == b'\xAB':
                return header + data + checksum + tail

port = serial.Serial(port=MY_PORT)
packet = read_sensor(port)
data_sum = sum(packet[2:8])
checksum = packet[8]

if data_sum == checksum:

However, I haven't got a single packet whose checksum hasn't been an error. Is there anything I could be potentially doing wrong?

2 Answers 2


Generally, a checksum byte is computed using 8-bit arithmetic, with overflow ignored.

The Python sum function uses arithmetic of indefinite precision (eg, 32- or 64-bit words for small values, with additional words for larger numbers).

Try comparing checksum to data_sum % 256. If that doesn't fix the problem, print out some of the data packets and checksum values so that you can use a calculator to test different combinations.

  • data_sum % 256 fixed it. I thought it was strange that data_sum values were greater than a byte. Should've just checked the first byte! Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 3:31

I assume MY_PORT stands for COMxx. Since you set no timeout, it means port.read() will block till it gets the number of bytes requested. I suggest you add a print() to display the bytes returned, if any.

To get the sum, use data_sum = sum(packet[2:8]) & 0xff to ensure you only get a byte. Also add port.reset_input_buffer() right before you call read_sensor(), to flush the input buffer.

It would also be a good idea to take at least 3 consecutive readings from the sensor in case of any errors in the first reading right after opening the port. Dont forget to add a port.close() at the end of your code.

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