FT232RL: Real Or Fake?


Above are two FTDI FT232RL chips, an extremely common chip used to add a USB serial port to projects, builds, and products. The one on the left is a genuine part, while the chip on the right was purchased from a shady supplier and won’t work with the current FTDI drivers. Can you tell the difference?

[Zeptobars], the folks behind those great die shots of various ICs took a look at both versions of the FT232 and the differences are staggering. Compared to the real chip, the fake chip has two types of SRAM etched in the silicon – evidence this chip was pieced together from different layouts.

The conclusion [Zeptobars] reached indicated the fake chip is really just a microcontroller made protocol compatable with the addition of a mask ROM. If you’re wondering if the FTDI chips in your part drawers are genuine, the real chips have laser engraved markings, while the clone markings are usually printed.

Make a simple O-scope with a FTDI board and a couple of ADC’s

[RandomTask] has posted a nice tutorial on how to use a FTDI serial to usb converter, and a couple analog to digital converters to make a simple software oscilloscope. Using a “Universal Serial to USB converter” and one of many FTDI break out boards, he first reprograms the chip using FTDI’s programming software to put the device into a FIFO (first in first out) mode.

From there a pair of ADC0820 8 bit digital to analog converters are wired up, and input is fed to a couple 555’s for testing. It should be noted that there is no input protection, so things like voltages above 5 volts, or negative voltages are a big no-no with this setup. It still could be very handy while working with micro controllers or other digital circuits.

Data is then sent to the computer and displayed using a VB.net program, which has some basic features like scale and triggering, but also contains a couple bonuses like Calc Freq and Calc V delta calculation.

Many people have these little serial to usb converters, and might be in need of a simple scope. If you’re one of them, then you can cobble this together pretty darn quickly, and cheaply.

Serial hacking with an ATtiny2313


[Sprite_tm] automated a portion of serial hacking by sniffing out the baud rate using an ATtiny2313 and FT232 breakout board. The firmware assumes 8 data bits, no parity, and 1 stop bit (8N1). This is pretty much defacto among serial ports so it should work well, though some devices do use different settings. The auto detection routine can sniff rates as low as 110 baud and supports non standard rates. Released under GPLv3, the software is also supplied in hex format.  [Sprite_tm] has provided great project in past such as Working with VFDsControllable bristlebot, and AVR boost converter. Additional information regarding serial hacking after the break.

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