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Project Help and Ideas » Build my own USB to serial converter to use with Nerdkit

August 02, 2015
by hacker
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Unfortunately I lost the USB to serial cable that came with my Nerdkit. I have been holding on to it for a couple of years until my son was old enough to put it together, and now I can't order spare parts. I have seen a couple of postings about how to adapt a PL2303 USB to Serial cable for use with the Nerdkit, but it wasn't enough information for me. Would anyone be able to explain what I need to buy, and how to wire it up?

August 02, 2015
by JKITSON
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Hi

I will dig my cable out and see what info I can come up with. I will be Monday eve or Tue but I will try. I think Rick or Bobba Mosfet could do much better than me. They should pick up on this thread..

Jim Kitson

August 03, 2015
by Rick_S
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This FTDI Cable at Sparkfun would work just fine. All you would need to get then would be some male to male jumpers or just use the hookup wire you got with your nerdkit.

To wire it to your nerdkit, you would connect the Black wire to the GND rail (blue rail on the breadboard), connect the Red wire to the +5v rail (Red rail on the breadboard), connect the Orange wire to the MCU pin 2 (row 12 on the breadboard if the chip is placed as per the nerdkit guide), and the Yellow wire to the MCU pin 3 (row 13 on the breadboard if the chip is placed as per the nerdkit guide).

Most any USB-Serial adapter would work, but Sparkfun is reputable, and they sell genuine FTDI chips so you know the drivers for their cables will work.

Hope that helps,

Rick

August 03, 2015
by JKITSON
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Morning Rick...

Good info. I think I will get one also just to have a spare..

Jim

August 03, 2015
by Ralphxyz
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All sorts of things use FTDI so I'd pick up a couple of the FTDI modules.

Your milage may vary with the ebay selections, it is always safe to go with Sparkfun!!

August 03, 2015
by hacker
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Thank you very much gentlemen. I really appreciate it. I have ordered the cable, and I hope it comes soon, so my son and I can get back to work (before school starts again)!

August 03, 2015
by JKITSON
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Hacker

Nice to have a new face here on Nerdkits. There are still a number of us here and as you can see we check in frequently. If you and/or your son have any questions or problems give us a post....

Jim

August 27, 2015
by mongo
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I had the same kind of thing back when I was programming Allen Bradley SLC-100 PLC's... Hat to build my own adapter for RS232 to RS422 open collector. Worked great too.

December 20, 2016
by jvanderspek
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Ah, thanks for these posts. I had the same problem: bought the nerdkit for my son a few years ago but since he appeared still too young I had some fun with the kit myself and then it got shelved. Now he is old enough, but we ran out of programmer cables. I ordered a Sparkfun cable and will follow Rick's instructions. This post is to let you know that there are still some hidden nerkitters out there. I prefer it over an Arduino because you have to build it all yourself, so learn more. And the documentation still available here on nerdkits.com is great for starting people.

December 21, 2016
by BobaMosfet
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@jvanderspek

Good for you, and yes-- we are still here and on Rick's site. We'll help wherever we can. I believe I still have 2 of the original NK connectors they provided when I discovered the site and got a couple of kits.

They are original before they did anything with USB, just RS232 connector through a CD74HCT14E to square up the wave-form and then to a 4-lead connector (RX/TX/+/-) for the breadboard. Breadboard provided power to it.

You can also design and build your own USB to TTL or RS232 to TTL adapters (I've done both).

BM

December 21, 2016
by Ralphxyz
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I have never seen anything to match the Nerdkits documentation.

I learned so much from it.

Ralph

December 21, 2016
by jvanderspek
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Yep, fully agree the documentation is very good material to start. Still waiting for my FTDI cable :(

I am reviving a multithreading kernel that I wrote a while back (see the 'having fun' remark in my earlier post). I will post a few questions that I have on clocking this processor on an appropriate message thread.

Now we are at it: I was wondering, and quickly checked the NerdKit's forum and the one on Rick's site: is nobody using a micro kernel for his/her projects?

February 03, 2017
by BobaMosfet
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jvanderspek-

I built my own in about 3K. But I have extensive knowledge and understanding of operating systems, memory and time management, pointers, heap zones, stacks frames, devices/io, and necessary building blocks.

BM

February 03, 2017
by jvanderspek
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Aha, thanks Bob, I was just wondering why the news groups hardly seemed to mention microkernels, though admittedly I am not the typical faithful member of news groups, so likely may have missed some.

I am doling out AVR based do-it-yourself development kits (heavily inspired by the NerdKit) to youngsters who show interest in programming. Nothing as encouraging as actually seeing your home built LED character display work, and then saving GPIO pins by throwing in a shift register :)

But you do not want to bother beginning programmers with timer interrupt queues for things as LED strobing, and the trouble of explicitly multiplexing the processor for different activities that happen in your program. That is what operating systems should do for you. So I let them use a kernel from the very start, and then gradually explain about multiprocessing.

February 07, 2017
by BobaMosfet
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jvanderspek-

I suspect it's because there are Arduino-like options widely available. Same basic concept: Training Wheels.

BM

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