Wouldn’t it be cool to drive a tiny OLED display, read a color sensor, or even just flash some LEDs directly from your computer? Sure you can program an Arduino or Trinket to talk to these devices and your computer, but why can’t your computer just talk to those devices and sensors itself? Well, now your computer can talk to devices using the Adafruit FT232H breakout board!
What can the FT232H chip do? This chip from FTDI is similar to their USB to serial converter chips but adds a ‘multi-protocol synchronous serial engine’ which allows it to speak many common protocols like SPI, I2C, serial UART, JTAG, and more! There’s even a handful of digital GPIO pins that you can read and write to do things like flash LEDs, read switches or buttons, and more. The FT232H breakout is like adding a little swiss army knife for serial protocols to your computer!
This chip is powerful and useful to have when you want to use Python (for example) to quickly iterate and test a device that uses I2C, SPI or plain general purpose I/O. There’s no firmware to deal with, so you don’t have to deal with how to “send data to and from an Arduino which is then sent to and from” an electronic sensor or display or part.
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We use a special library called adafruit_blinka (named after Blinka, the CircuitPython mascot) to provide the layer that translates the CircuitPython hardware API to whatever library the Linux board provides.
For example, on Raspberry Pi we use the python RPi.GPIO library. For any I2C interfacing we'll use ioctl messages to the /dev/i2c device. For SPI we'll use the spidev python library, etc. These details don't matter so much because they all happen underneath the adafruit_blinka layer.