What exactly is a FT232R chip ?

am considering making an Arduino on a breadboard as detailed here;

on that page, it uses a breakout board for the FT232R chip.
i have been reading "FTDI" so often i actually thought that was the "device" needed to connect an Arduino (ie. ATmega328) to a PC via USB (to upload sketches, etc) but it is infact the company name, and the chip itself is the "FT232R".

what is this chip actually called, a "USB-UART interface" ?

i was thinking if i'm "breadboarding it" - i might as well go the whole hog and try to do the whole shebang, including the "USB to Serial" part.

i thought i'd try to copy the schematic from the "FTDI Cable" like this;

but the FT232R chip doesn't seem to be available in DIP package (cmiiw)

are there alternatives to the FT232R which come in DIP format ?

just from casual browsing on a component website i found a HIN232 and a MAX232 - but i don't know if these are equivalent chips that can be used like the FT232R in the above schematic.

Yes, it's a USB-UART interface, or more commonly "USB-TTL serial adapter" - variations like that (often people leave out "TTL" in conversation). The three that people commonly use are the FT232RL, CP2102, and CH340G.

HIN232 and MAX232 are not USB serial adapters, they are TTL serial to RS232 serial adapters, ie, they change the voltage levels from 5v and 0v to 10v and -10v as required for RS232 (this increases the length of cable that can be used, but requires a converter at both ends). These chips are also used often as a ghetto way to get a dual supply, as they're both cheaper and easier to work with than the switcher that would otherwise be needed (those cheap ultrasonic ranging modules use this to turn 5v into +/-10v, which they connect soas to put the full 20v across the transducer used to send the ping)

I don't know of any alternatives that come in through-hole package. But I also strongly recommend against making your own USB serial adapter on a breadboard - only do it if you're making a custom PCB and really need it to be integrated; If you're making your own PCB, I'd use a CH340G. Dirt shit cheap (25 cents a pop or so), easy to solder by hand in SOIC-16 ( easier than the TSSOP package of the FT232 and much easier than the no-lead package of the CP2102), and pretty forgiving of abuse and halfassed design (FFS, I think the third PCB I designed that wasn't just prototyping board was a CH340G based adapter, out of unabashed NIHism, and they worked great)

If you're just breadboarding, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel; CH340G serial adapters that are great for Arduino are under $2 each. I like these: 1PCS 5v CH340G Serial Converter USB 2.0 To TTL 6PIN Module for PRO mini K9 | eBay - no specific endorsement of that vendor, many sell them. Search for CH340G 6pin, and buy the ones with the little switch on the board (there are a few other designs with the wrong pinout, terribad build quality (the sub-$1 ones are awful; I've had them arrive with the USB connector barely attached), and/or problems when running at 3.3v; the black ones with the switch are great though).

As an aside, never try to buy cheap FT232RL chips on ebay/et al - there are counterfeit ones around, but they don't actually work on windows, and you can't tell until you have it assembled and find that they don't work.

thanks for the comprehensive info and tips.

i'll definitely consider the ready-made CH340G USB-to-TTL modules then, the main consideration is really price but was also thinking, if i can get things cheap and get a positive learning experience as well, why not.

EDIT: as for the SOIC-16 version i was thinking i'd solder it to one of these;

then get it on a breadboard.

i found this blog with a schematic that might be possible to breadboard....

may i ask what the drawbacks are in strongly recommending against breadboarding it ?

is it loose fitting connections or convoluted wiring ?

i haven't even started through-hole soldering yet, let alone SMD - will have to check out tutorials on those to see how much more difficult it can get.

Breadboarding is not good for high frequency stuff. Maybe the 12 MHz oscillator won't run on the breadboard.

There is a lot is inter-capacitance on the breadboard, making your signals noisy. Maybe USB won't work at all because of this.

// Per.

oh, i see - will have to search "breadboard inter-capacitance" then, thanks.

the Breadboard Arduino has a 16MHz oscillator though, one presumes that works if it's an "official layout".

is that a different case from a USB-to-TTL circuit on a breadboard ?

On the TTL side things are very slow.

On the USB side things are very fast. 480 megabits per second

ahh okay - many thanks.

my fundamental knowledge expands...

FTDI USB to serial cables are readily available, solves the problem of USB conversion without needing to
add a chip into your breadboarded circuit.

For instance: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9716

FTDI USB to serial cables are readily available, …

well yes, there’s no denying the “just use it” policy being more efficient - but that also presumes the product is already at it’s most efficient level, and not to forget price-worthiness.

who knows what someone else can do at a “cheaper price” that would eat away at the profit margins of the market leader ! (who will no doubt say that the “cheaper method” sacrifices quality - folllowed by lies, damn lies and statistics !)

marketing issues aside, my thoughts are more towards learning the fundamentals - it comes down to time management, is it something worth spending time to experience oneself, finding out the instances where theory doesn’t quite match up in the practical real world.

it’s not so much trying to re-invent the wheel, but more about “what did the first wheel-makers go through before making the best wheel possible”.

the technical world has amassed so much knowledge that no one can ever experience everything from ‘first principles’ and they will just have to accept that a ‘black box’ will do “X” and you don’t have to know how it does it right down to the gritty details. (Note: understanding the theory of it is another matter. )