Introduction: Convert FTDI Cable to "FTDI Dongle" for XBee Adapter

Picture of Convert FTDI Cable to "FTDI Dongle" for XBee Adapter

Imagine you are testing a "Wireless" project that you would do outside of your office or home, for example using XBee Modules to control some kind of robot ,  RC car, weather balloon, etc. from your laptop.

You might encounter the problem that the same way I did, the (six feet long) FTDI cable that connected the Xbee module to the laptop. It is hard to find the place to put the Xbee module, since the laptop already occupied all the space on one's lap. Even if you put the Xbee module on some vacant space on the laptop, it keeps sliding off the because the weight of the FTDI cable keeps dragging it off , sending the Xbee module dropping to the ground.

Now, I do not have to deal with the problems any more!
I modified one of the FTDI cable that I had to be used as the way we use the Thumb Drive, FTDI Dongle, by eliminated the length of the FTDI cable.

Note: This instructable shows how to modify the FTDI cable to use with AdaFruit's XBee Adapter, because the Adapter is the FTDI-ready. The Adapter brought out the pins that compatible with FTDI socket, Ground, CTS, 5V, RX, TX, RTS. And I already have a couple of them available. You probably need to adjust the pin-out if you are going to use other type of XBee Breakout board.

And it works great!

Here is one of the project that I use these Wireless Xbee module to control the Robotic Arm.



Step 1: Parts and Tools...

Picture of Parts and Tools...

Parts:

FTDI cable
PCB board
6-pin female socket
Double-side foam tape

Tools:

X-CATO Knife
Diagonal cutter
Vise
Solder Iron
Wire stripper
Rosin-Core Solder

Step 2: Cut the FTDI Cable

Picture of Cut the FTDI Cable

Hold the FTDI cable with vise, place the USB end of the cable at the vise.Position the USB side way.

Use X-ACTO knife scores along the side of the cable at the USB end. (as shown in the picture) Notice the two holes on the metal part of the USB, you will score along the lower end of the USB connector.

Keep scoring until you feel the the metal or the PCB.
(Be careful with that sharp knife!)

Use the diagonal cutter, to tear open the plastic body.

Now we can see the PCB, and the components on it.

Step 3: Solder Time...

Picture of Solder Time...

Trim the FTDI cable down to about an inch to an inch and a half from the PCB.

Cut a piece of PCB board to about the size of Xbee Adapter, or 1-1/8” wide and 1-5/8” long.

Mark six holes on the PCB, by placing the USB socket of the FTDI hanging out of the PCB about the center of the PCB.

Cut two small piece of the double sided foam tape and stick them underneath the FTDI PCB.

Sort the FTDI wires into this order
Black
Brown
Red
Orange
Yellow
Green

Strip those wires down to fit the holes that we marked earlier with the wire stripper.

Solder those wire to the PCB.

Step 4: Add Xbee Socket...

Picture of Add Xbee Socket...

Use the XBee Adapter to mark the location of the six FTDI configured pin.

Solder the 6-pin female socket to the PCB.

Step 5: Finish...

Picture of Finish...

Cut the color wires about an inch long from the FTDI cable.

Use the same color wire to connect the soldered wires to the 6-pin socket.

Note: The reason I did this, instead of just connected the wires directly from the FTDI to the 6-pin socket, because I want to secure the FTDI PCB to the PCB first. The other reason was if I want to swap the order of the FTDI pin configuration, I could do it with ease.

Step 6: Test...

Picture of Test...
On your Windows PC, from the Start select Control Panel>System>Hardware>Device Manager
Click at the + sign in front of  Port (COM & LPT)

Put the XBee Adapter with the XBee module on to the modified “FTDI Dongle” that you just made.

Insert the “FTDI Dongle” into available USB port.

You will see the Device Manager window updates it own contents, and you should see the new USB Serial Port shows up in the Port (COM & LPT) sub-directory.

If you click on that USB Serial Port (COMxx), you should see how you set the XBee module, i.e. Baud Rate, etc.

Congratulation! Mission accomplished!

If not so, first check if the wires soldered in the right order. And make sure that you have the FTDI Driver (http://www.ftdichip.com/FTDrivers.htm) was installed.


Usage...

I have been using a lot of XBee Adapters and XBee module in my Arduino projects. And I also got tied of Making another prototype board for XBee Module. So, I make my own DIY Arduino - RevIO -  that bring out the 28 I/O pins, by emphasizing the communication ports, and specifically make the Serial Comm. compatible with FTDI cable, as well as AdaFruit's XBee Adapter Board. so, I could plug in the XBee Adapter board without making more board.

Again, here is one of the project that I use the "FTDI Dongle" on Wireless Xbee module to control the Robotic Arm.

Below is the Video of the said project.

Comments

offtherails2010 (author)2012-07-19

Absolutely AWESOME !!!

One question though....

Exactly what make/model number is that FTDI USB Module you used because it looks like a CHEAPER Alternative than buying the STUPIDLY EXPENSIVE 'Official' FTDI Dongles that are made for Arduino's and im sick & tired of the fact that i am on such a low income that i cant afford the expensive USB Dongles so am limited to using the expensive USB BUB II... ???

maybe an ebay link ? lol

many thanks in advance !!

Oh and again, DAMN-GREAT INSTRUCTIBLE !!!! !!!! !!!!

sath02 (author)offtherails20102012-07-19

Thanks for the kind words.

I can't remember where I bought a cable from. But this is the link to the original FTDI company.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Products/Cables/USBTTLSerial.htm

There are two versions, one for 5V and another one for 3.3V
TTL-232R-5V
TTL-232R-3V3
Mine is 5V version. I probably brought it from Adafruit or Sparkfun, I can't remember!
Might be available on eBay, I don't know. Good luck.

offtherails2010 (author)sath022012-07-19

Your Most-Welcome !

You've done an OUTSTANDING job with this and documented it with clear pictures and really great instructions and i know how long it could take to write up a good/great instructable so high-praise is definitely needed !

Im really wanting to make a single-sided Arduino PCB but dont know how to use Eagle Software yet as i find it very difficult to make homemade double-sided PCB's as i am on very VERY Low Income so i make all my own PCB's but would you have any advice on anywhere i could pick up any good tips for using Eagle by any chance ???

Once-More, A Superb Instructable ! Keep up the great work !

sath02 (author)offtherails20102012-07-19


I found Sparkfun's series of Beginning Embedded Electronics tutorials are very useful to me especial from step 8 on, which shows how to create PCB using EagleCAD software, here is the link

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/category/1

There are so many tutorials on how to make your own PCB in instructables.com, just use the instructables's custom search on the main menu tab bar, using keyword Printed Circuit Board, for example.
I found this one is helpful,
https://www.instructables.com/id/Turn-your-EAGLE-schematic-into-a-PCB/

Hope this help,

About This Instructable

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Bio: I am Electronic Visualization Artist. I look at things through the Looking Glasses.
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