For a while now I’ve been looking for an easy way to interface with external SPI and I2C devices over USB in a manner that can be easily integrated into future projects as well as used in a simple stand-alone system.
Although there are many existing SPI/I2C interface solutions, most of them are microcontroller based and connect to the PC though a USB to serial converter. This works fine, but I wanted something with a bit more speed while also remaining simple, cheap, and readily available.
After some searching, the FTDI FT-2232 family of chips seemed to fit the bill nicely. Although they are more commonly used to interface with JTAG devices, the FT-2232’s Multi-Protocol Synchronous Serial Engine (MPSSE) also supports the SPI and I2C protocols, clock rates of up to 30MHz, and a full-speed USB interface. Development boards are also cheap – the UM232H is $20 from DigiKey or Mouser in single quantities.
So how does this relate to hacking embedded systems you ask? Let’s take a look…