VoltLink™ A Fancy USB Serial Adapter (ESP32 Programmer) – Voltlog #356

Welcome to a new Voltlog, today I’ll be showing you how I created my own usb to serial adapter board and we’ll go through some of the design decisions I had to make and I will explain the reasoning behind making these choices but first let me tell you the background of the story, Personally I’ve always liked having my own usb to serial adapter and here is one that I designed something like 10 years ago maybe more. The layout is not great, my PCB skills were obviously not as good as they are today but nonetheless, I created this adapter as an exercise but also for the important purpose of having a reliable and flexible tool. Reliable because I could control the chip that I’m using. It was a Silabs CP2103 and I was getting it from a well known distributor.

Flexible because I had all the IOs of the chip broen out to 0.1 inch headers which could mean that I had the option to trigger a reset on a particular board or something along those lines. And I’ve also designed other adapters based on FTDI chips and more recently based on the CH340 family of chinese chips. 

So this brings me to today’s project, I designed this new adapter for two reasons: one is the good old reason of reliability, you can’t trust the adapters you’re getting from aliexpress, they’re almost always using fake chips and generally are of lower build quality. I want a reliable CP2104 series chip in here, I want it to be able to sustain high bit rates for fast uploading of firmware images to target boards.

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