DB9 form factor USB-RS232 replacement

If you’re attached to that favorite DB-9 interfaced device you should look into this part. FTDI is selling a USB-RS232 adapter as a replacement for DB-9 connectors. They come with USB male or female connections depending on the application and have the same serial footprint and pinout to which you’re accustomed. Using converter cables is just fine but this simplicity requires a few minutes of desoldering, rather than redesigning, etching, and populating a board in order to give that older design built-in USB connectivity.

[Thanks Juan]

Composing music with the Force Trainer

In the ongoing quest to make the Force Trainer useful [Hunter Scott] developed a music composition platform for your mind (channel Jack Black’s voice for the last half of that sentence). Using the Force Trainer’s serial port [Hunter] feeds the data stream into a computer via an FTDI cable and uses Processing to make the music. It’s good, and the demos on his site are worth the click, but we still can’t get enough of the shocking video from back in March. But we digress, let [Hunter] walk you through his setup in the video after the break. [Read more...]

Adding reset to an FTDI cable

Hackaday alum [Adam Harris] hacked an FTDI cable to use for programming his Arduino. After cracking open the plastic case he found the FTDI chip used is the same as the one in the SparkFun programmer. The only real difference was that his cable wasn’t resetting the Arduino, he had to do that manually. The solution was to reroute the RTS wire so that it connected up to the DTR pin. This proved difficult because of the tiny footprint of the chip, but after many tries he managed to get a piece of wire wrap soldered in place.

Apple IIe Twitter ticker

A hand input bootloader and a custom communications protocol are what bring the Apple IIe Twitter ticker to life. [Chris Yerga] bought the decades-old machine for $20 at a flea market. Having just completed his TweetWall he decided to adapt the idea for the 1 MHz machine. He manually input a 50 byte bootloader that would let him dump programs into memory via the joystick port. From there he rigged up a connection with a USB FTDI cable. Now the images and text are processed by a modern-day machine and fed to the Apple IIe at 3600 baud. See this in action after the break.

[Read more...]

RC truck source for robotics platform

[Michael] sent us a link to his RC robotic platform. He started with the same RC toy as the iPhone Robot (CAR) but ended up with a blank slate waiting for more features. What he has is an Arduino with a motor driver, three bump switches for the front and rear, and a XBee module.  On the other side of things he used a SparkFun USB to FTDI connector to interface another XBee module with a PC in order to use Processing.

In the clip after the break you can see the motor control needs to have more fine-tuning done so the beast isn’t just out of control when running. But there’s a ton of potential here. It should not be a problem to add at lease rudimentary video feedback from the device. The Arduino is currently only being used marginally, leaving plenty of space to add on-board sensing such as IR, proximity, or light.

It’s a clean start, we expect to see updates! [Read more...]

Serial communication with cell phones

Hackaday alum [Will O'Brien] has been doing some cellphone integration work. He recently picked up some Motorola c168i cellphones from eBay. It turns out there is a serial port that uses TTL communication with a standard head-phone jack as an interface. [Will] soldered up a connector and used a USB to FTDI cable to interface with the phone. To his surprise he was able to read off the stored text messages even though they were PIN protected in the phone’s operating system. The messages on these units were trivial but this is another example of the importance of clearing your data before discarding your devices.

Introduction to FTDI bitbang mode


It was an interface that launched a thousand hacks. Near trivial to program, enough I/O lines for useful work, and sufficiently fast for a multitude of applications: homebrew logic analyzers, chip programmers, LCD interfaces and LED light shows, to name a few.

Today the parallel printer port is on the brink of extinction (and good riddance, some would say). Largely rendered obsolete by USB, few (if any) new peripherals even include a parallel connector, and today’s shrinking computers — nettops, netbooks, media center PCs — wouldn’t have space for it anyway. That’s great for tidy desks, but not so good if you enjoyed the dirt-cheap hacks that the legacy parallel port made possible.

Fear not, for there’s a viable USB alternative that can resurrect many of these classic hacks! And if you’ve done much work with Arduino, there’s a good chance it’s already lurking in your parts drawer.

[Read more...]


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