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I have a chip that uses SPI for communication and would like to connect it directly to the USB port on my computer. Does anyone have experience with using a USB to SPI converter? How would I design a circuit to convert USB to SPI? http://www.robotshop.com/devantec-usb-i2c-spi-serial-interface.html

http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9235

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If you just want to do some experiments, then take a look at the Bus Pirate, it speaks tons of serial protocols at one end and USB on the other.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I found the BusPirate too slow and buggy to be a useful SPI converter, even in binary mode. I moved on to programming a TI launchpad with the logic to control the device and sending out the results via serial. \$\endgroup\$ – AndreKR Feb 11 '11 at 23:58
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Some of the FTDI USB chips have a MPSSE (multi protocol sync serial engine) mode, which allows all sorts of serial protocols, including SPI, to be implemented very easily (and at high speeds to 30mbit/sec if necessary with FT2232H).

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I've used Total Phase Aardvark USB/I2C/SPI interfaces in my professional career. They're fairly cheap and work great.

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    \$\begingroup\$ $250 is cheap?! totalphase.com/products/aardvark_i2cspi \$\endgroup\$ – JYelton Sep 22 '12 at 6:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Fairly" cheap, when compared to other pro-grade test equipment (considering it also does I2C and has GPIO capabilities). It's a tad pricey for an occasional hobbyist. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Lawrence Sep 22 '12 at 18:09
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I draw a schematic and posted example code to run a chain of '595s off of a humble FTDI cable: How can I control 128 (or more) solenoids?

'595 are essentially SPI. The code bacomes a bit more complicated if you need to read data as well as write it. But it is still not bad.

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The first unit is the neatest solution, and uses a PIC with USB, SPI and I2C interfaces. It also offers async serial. It also has a bootloader so you can update the code easily, or add your own code.

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