I have a question regarding which SPI to USB connector to choose and what the main difference is between them. All i want to to is monitor the SPI activity going on which is possible through an SPI port connection on my board.

There are two USB to SPI convertors I have seen:

Why is the price difference so big between them?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You want to monitor it or control it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Samuel
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 19:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Only monitor output. No controlling. The control is all don't by the arm processor \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 1:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Then you want a logic analyzer, not a USB to SPI device. The difference there is observation vs control, respectively. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samuel
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 2:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ would a logic analyzer interpret USB messages? I am looking to send text data that the ARM outputs over a USB COM port \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 1:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, check out the Saleae Logic device. It can interpret SPI, USB, and many others. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samuel
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 1:50

2 Answers 2


From the Aardvark page it comes complete with:

Aardvark SPI Host Adapter Unit
6 foot USB A->B cable
Software (downloadable from website):
  Windows USB Drivers
  Linux USB Hot Plug Configuration files
  Rosetta Language Bindings: C/C++, C#, .NET, Python, Visual Basic

Plus it is a finished product and they will even customize it with your own logo for you in order to promote your own brand. I'd say those are some pretty significant value added features.

The Sparkfun item is for hobbyists and is only provided as-is. You are pretty much expected to know (or to learn) how to use it by yourself. The software for it is all open source.

It seems those are the largest differences. The Aardvark requires a minimum order of 100 items.

  • \$\begingroup\$ totally true. I've used the AArdvark (it was spi and i2c) at work in a professional environment. It is very robust, the programming libraries are amazing. great documentation. Besides SPI it can do standard GPIO (like how you would do on a microcontroller). Its basically a very well polished version of the sparkfun with A LOT more featureS A LOT more stability and A LOT bigger price tag \$\endgroup\$
    – andrew
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 20:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've found the C# libraries for the MCP2210 to be very complete. It also has GPIO and it's even cheaper than the Sparkfun device. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samuel
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can buy a single aardvark unit. But is the frequency at which it samples important? The spark fun one is 750Khz vs the aardvark which is 4Mhz \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 2:00

I use the USBee SX for this task. While more expensive than either option you link to, it supports capture of up to 8 signals, and has decoders for SPI, I2C, Async UART and other protocol, as well as an API for writing your own protocol decoders. Decoders are applied to signals, and you can have as many enabled as you need. This helps immensely when debugging activity on more than one communications channel. Their BusBee module is similar, but with only 4 signals captured it really can't handle more than one bus at a time.

At SparkFun, also take a look at the Bus Pirate. It handles more protocols than just SPI, and is based on an open source PIC that could be reprogrammed to suit other uses as well. It is popular for its flexibility.


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