LED Blinker/PC status indicator project

This is my first post and I am new to the Arduino products. I need advise on which product would best suit the project I am planning. I currently have a functioning project in Windows that detects a certain tray icon and toggles a modem control line on a serial port. This idea is a time-saver in that a PC condition of the user's/programmer's choice can be seen from across the room even when the screensaver is active. The current hardware consists of a DB-9 connector that has simply a wire pair, a current-limiting resistor, and an LED. When the modem control line is toggled, the LED blinks on and off. It's overkill because I'm not using any of the serial/parallel functionality of the UART. And these days most laptops do not have standard serial ports, so in order to make this work on new computers I need to find a USB solution. I'd like to find a USB board (with adequate software) that would support these things: Has a control line that supplies enough current to drive an LED (about 20 mA), and that would use plug-and-play to direct the host computer to a website, to download the host software to run the program, with no software initially required on the PC (launch IE and go to a website). Are there Arduino products that can do this, once the proper software is developed for it? Thanks - Greg

Yes any of the arduinos would do this for you.

However you don't even need that if you use a serial /USB bridge you can carry on using the hardware you have.

An old USB-to-parallel-printer adapter might do the job, but might not have enough oomph to drive LEDs.

Seems like this thing was made to order...

The interesting thing about the FTDI chip is the fact that it has GPIO pins on it; you could one (or more) LEDs to those pins, and write software to toggle those, instead of the "hack" method you are currently using (I'm not saying what you are doing it wrong; your app and many others do the same thing, notably UPS systems, but in the opposite direction). I think that there are five GPIO pins available (CBUS).


Thanks for the ideas. The "Breakout Board for FT232RL USB to Serial", while it still has a full serial port, is not too expensive to worry about the serial capability going to waste. The USB serial bridge would work too. I've been programming for almost 30 years but have no experience with USB. The board specs mention "Internal EEPROM for device ID and Product Description strings" which I assume is used for plug-and-play interfacing. Is that correct, and is it possible to do a custom operation (on the PC) when the device is plugged in (like look for a previously-installed driver)?