Introduction: FTDI USB to Serial Converter Guide

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A Serial to USB converter is one of the most useful parts you can have in your box of electronics. It can be used for debugging, programming, and all sort of reverse engineering projects. In this tutorial we will show you how to assemble your FTDI Converter board. We will also show you how to convert the standard 5V FTDI board to a 3.3V board using the SMD jumpers under the board for projects that require a 3.3V supply.

Step 1: Solder the Female Right Angle Header

Setting up your FTDI Board is pretty straight forward. The first step is to solder the female right angle header to the FTDI board, which is supplied with our boards. We recommend using the female headers instead of the male to avoid shorting the board by accidentally touching a metal surface.

Step 2: 3.3V Supply

If your project requires a 5V supply, then your board is ready to go. If instead you need a 3.3V supply, then the FTDI board can be easily converted to provide 3.3V. To do this, you will need to use a razor to cut between two of the SMD pads on the back.

You need to cut between the thin trace between the bottom and middle pad shown in the picture above. The trace is thin and very easy to cut; a few quick swipes should disconnect the two pads.

Step 3: Multimeter Check

Check with a multimeter set on continuity mode. This will help ensure the two pads are in fact, disconnected. If the meter confirms the pads are disconnected, continue to the next step.

Step 4: Connecting & Soldering

Next, connect the middle pad to the top one, using a soldering iron and some solder.

Step 5: Finished

Your FTDI board should now look like the picture above! You can plug the board in to your computer with a USB cable, and check the output labeled 5V with a multimeter. You should now get a constant 3.3V instead of 5V. This means the board will now provide 3.3V on the VCC pin, and is safe to connect to any 3.3V device.

There you  have it; you are ready to program your first Arduino, or reverse engineer your first project! Feel free to comment below if you have any issues or questions. 

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