I'm a relative newcomer to the Arduino, but have been tinkering with it for a while now. I bought an official Arduino UNO, plus ethernet shield and they work great.
However, for a new project I'm looking at building a single board that is essentially Arduino+ethernet+microSD. There are various affordable ethernet boards out there, but most don't include SD and require programming directly through serial, as opposed to the convenient USB connection offered on official Arduinos.
Basically, my question is whether or not I can easily add a 3rd-party USB-to-serial chip to allow programming on a custom 'Duino via USB. I was looking at this chip: http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/universal-asynchronous-receivers-transmitters/0406580/
and thought it would perhaps be suitable. Would anyone be able to confirm/deny this? If I'm completely wrong here, would you be able to suggest an alternative that would work?
I know the Arduinos (of late) use another Atmel chip programmed as a serial converter, though these chips are (to the best of my knowledge) only available in tiny packages, hence pretty impossible for me to solder.
As a side question, regarding the popular ENC28J60 ethernet IC (which I would be using), I understand that the chip has no hardware TCP/IP stack, so it has to be implemented via software. Is this fairly reliable or does it carry issues with it? I was wondering if the code would greatly reduce the size of applications you can write.
I'd be very grateful for any help you can offer.