FTDI Basic Breakout Review
The photo above shows the FTDI basic breakout board's size compared to a quarter. The size of the board was the first thing that caught my attention but the board has several features that come in really handy.
For starters this the board comes ready to work with any 5V power source but you need it to work with 3.3V you can cut the default trace and add a solder jumper. This tip comes from the boards description page and I haven't tried it myself since I am only using it with 5V power sources.
The board has an LED that is handy for checking if it is even on but you can also use the LED to see serial traffic going to and from the board.
I had the board out of the package and working in under three minutes (I connected it to my Arduino Pro 328 Mini which is what took the longest). This board will work pretty much out of the package. It was astoundingly easy to connect it to my arduino and get started. You can read my review of the Arduino Pro 328 Mini here: http://salviusrobot.blogspot.com/2012/09/arduino-pro-328-mini-review.html.
I ordered my FTDI breakout board form Trossen Robotics for $13.95 plus 3.99 for shipping. My order arrived in four days which I thought was impressive considering that I have ordered from other suppliers before and it has taken a week to get my shipment. Obviously if your interested in purchasing this board you don't have to buy it through Trossen but I would recommend it because I have never had a bad or damaged shipment from them. The information bellow is from the Trossen downloads page. The technical information comes in quite handy.
This is a basic breakout board for the FTDI FT232RL USB to serial IC. The pinout of this board matches the FTDI cable to work with official Arduino and cloned 5V Arduino boards. It can also be used for general serial applications. The major difference with this board is that it brings out the DTR pin as opposed to the RTS pin of the FTDI cable. The DTR pin allows an Arduino target to auto-reset when a new Sketch is downloaded. This is a really nice feature to have and allows a sketch to be downloaded without having to hit the reset button. This board will auto reset any Arduino board that has the reset pin brought out to a 6-pin connector. The pins labeled BLK and GRN correspond to the colored wires on the FTDI cable. The black wire on the FTDI cable is GND, green is CTS. Use these BLK and GRN pins to align the FTDI basic board with your Arduino target. This board has TX and RX LEDs that make it a bit better to use over the FTDI cable.Accessories:
This board does not come with any accessories and so you will need to provide your own cables. To use this board you will need a USB TYPE A to USB MINI B cable.