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I'm looking for USB to serial FTDI cables. However, the cheapest I can find is $20 US each, which is way too expensive, given my price target for the entire product is $70. I'm hoping they can be found for $5 each somewhere, but even FTDI themselves has them for £16 (about $25) each. Anyone know of any other options?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You could just make the user supply their own "batteries not included" \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Dec 2 '10 at 22:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Joby Taffey, that is an option if I can't find a cheap one. But the cable brings a lot more features; without it, you can only use the default settings of the module, and you can't download the data from the datalog. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Dec 2 '10 at 22:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ The FTDI FT232RL device is $4.50 alone, so I don't think you will have any luck, at least with FTDI devices. (search.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/… ) \$\endgroup\$ – Connor Wolf Dec 3 '10 at 1:11
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Nokia data cables are USB to serial.

http://hackaday.com/2010/02/25/nokia-usb-cable-is-usb-to-serial-in-disguise/

You might also want to look at non-FTDI serial to USB chips, like the Prolific 2303 (PL2303) which is in this Nokia cable.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Brilliant. I could hack these myself, or, do you know of someone selling pre-hacked cables? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Dec 2 '10 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I don't, I just remembered the article \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Dec 2 '10 at 21:55
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I've found that the PL2303 is far more reliable than FTDI. They both do the same job though.

You can find a full adapter here for under $4: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.5859

If you do a Google Product Search for PL2303, you will find others.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The Windows drivers for these can be very shaky, though. \$\endgroup\$ – XTL Dec 3 '10 at 9:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @XTL Agreed, I have found this also. \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Dec 3 '10 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @XTL, odd, I've used it on Windows and Linux with no issues. Interesting. Perhaps I am using an older driver version? I haven't updated in a few years. \$\endgroup\$ – Brad Dec 3 '10 at 16:11
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Why not design in your own USB/UART device on the board? All these cables have in them is an FTDI FT232R or similar

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Space restrictions. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Dec 2 '10 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Having it off-board might be useful for users that have several of the products... maybe. \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Dec 2 '10 at 22:07
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Assuming your product already has a micro, the cheapest way is usually to use one with onboard USB.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I was considering this but adding a USB port will be bigger than the 6 pin header and the USB/UART would only be used while on the ground (normally is flying in a plane.) \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Dec 2 '10 at 23:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas: Micro USB is smaller than a 6-pin header. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick T Dec 2 '10 at 23:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nick T, Micro USB, never heard of it! I was thinking of using a Mini USB type B socket. Either way directly adding USB probably isn't an option at the moment, I don't think my MCU supports it. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas O Dec 3 '10 at 0:46

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