I need a somehat cheap and easy way to add fast, reliable serial communication to my breadboards in order to make prototyping with microcontrollers. Currently, I just stick a MAX232 and associated components at the top of the breadboard, but that uses several rows (I think around 10 or 11), including leaving room for a DB-9 connector. I'd much rather something really small that sits at the top of the breadboard and connects to my computer via USB. The FT232RL is $4.50; associated components total maybe an extra dollar at most. So, maybe I can make a nice little breakout board for the FT232 that is cheaper than what SparkFun sells and uses less space. My current design uses only 2 rows of a breadboard. By sacrificing one more row, you can also get the CTS and DTR signals.

I also made a MAX232 breakout board for the hell of it.



Board Designs

I designed the boards to be etchable with a DIY process. They're single layer and use big pads. Unfortunately, the traces go down to 10 mils, so it might be a bit demanding for DIY processes that aren't well-established (I highly recommend using a laminator for board transfers).