Hiya fellow engineers and makers!
Presenting μArt, an isolated USB to UART-TTL adapter that is truly versatile, safe, and dependable. You can use it almost anywhere you need to connect a UART to your computer’s USB port, regardless of voltage levels, electric potentials, and communication speed, and whether it is used for data exchange or for programming Arduinos, ESPs, or other devices. At the same time, μArt is robust and tolerates common user mistakes without being damaged or causing damage to other hardware. μArt was created so that you can finally replace your collection of UART converters with a single, high-quality tool.
It is no secret that there are many UART adapters on the market. So, you might ask, what’s the point of creating yet another one? The unfortunate reality is that despite the general usefulness of such devices, none of them seem able to solve the associated problems in a general and reliable way. Consequently, most engineers have a collection of them lying around: some just to cover the needed voltage ranges, others to add handshake and firmware-flashing pins, maybe another one that is isolated (or a separate USB isolator, which tends to be expensive), and a few to work around quirks of the others or to function as backups.
Another problem is that most of the existing solutions have quality problems. Pins can easily float, ruining application state, the slightest mistakes will easily damage expensive connected devices, the adapters often fail and require replacement, and there are latchups, freezes, data errors - as an experienced engineer or maker, you have most likely seen at least some of these phenomena.
This is where the μArt comes in. It was made to address both problems above: covering all use cases with a single device, and offering a reliable and robust solution that you can just trust to work right. The μArt has all the pins and features to enable various applications, protections to withstand or even prevent faults, means to preserve signal integrity, and measures to improve usability.
The μArt is based on the principle that a UART adapter is your tool, and you should be able trust your tools to get the job done.
USB-UART converters are ubiquitous and often used through many phases of a product’s development and lifecycle. They are used during initial board bringup, for debugging and development, for flashing firmware, for exchanging operational data, for controlling peripherals, as service ports in the field, or as diagnostic interfaces during analysis. If you work or hack in the electronics engineering, computer engineering, or embedded systems fields, it is safe to say that a UART adapter is one of your basic tools.
The μArt addresses typical problems of UART boards that plague both new and experienced engineers. Industry professionals will value being able to depend on the μArt and being able to focus on their work without having to second-guess their tool. Hobbyists and students, who can make mistakes more easily, will like that the μArt isolates faults and prevents damage to surrounding equipment. Regardless of which group you belong to, you will appreciate the ease of using a single device for all related tasks, and that the μArt incorporates features found only in the best of the alternatives but now makes them available for all use-cases. The μArt will save time, money, hardware, and nerves.
During design of the μArt, we made sure that the needs of some of the largest prototyping communities were fulfilled, so it is also an ideal companion for Raspberry, Arduino, and Espressif fans.
In fact, the μArt is possibly the first adapter to include adequate port protection so that misconnected wires can’t damage the Raspberry’s sensitive pins.
AVRs often utilize clocks that are ill-suited to generating standard UART baudrates. This results in UART communication that is picky about the converter in use, more likely to exhibit data errors, or just simply slow. The μArt supports non-standard and custom baudrates (such as 128000) so that you can use a fast and reliable setting for your MCU.
Some Arduino boards do not have a built-in USB-UART converter, in which case you have to rely on your own. Programming such boards can present a challenge since not all adapters possess the necessary pins (DTR) for an automatic flashing process. Users of some ESP modules are in a similar situation but with a different set of needed signals (DTR, RTS). The μArt incorporates the necessary pins for both kinds of boards, and enables fast and fully automatic flashing from the Arduino IDE.
The μArt in action.
The μArt replaces all your other UART converters for TTL signals with a single device that is at the same time more reliable and compatible. These properties are the combined result of the following features and design decisions.
The μArt on the inside.
The μArt comes in a custom-designed plastic case by default. It is made to fit the product perfectly, and provides mechanical protection while at the same time adding to the electrical protections. It is a mixture of semi-transparent and crystal clear surface design that makes labels and LEDs on the board readable. The labels of the board are beneath the surface of the case, so they are protected too and won’t wear off. The enclosure’s top and bottom half mate with a snap-in mechanism and can be separated without damage, giving you direct access to the electronics in case you want to hack it (not that you’ll need to).
The μArt injection molded enclosure.
*Note: Some of the pictures on this page show early prototyping cases.
If you choose to also pledge for a cable bundle, you’ll get an assortment of cables to make sure you have everything you need to start using the μArt. In addition to the device with its case, the following will also be included:
μArt Cable Bundle.
Due to the many products and copy-cats on the market, it is impractical to include them all in any comparison. We firmly believe, though, that based on our experience and research the μArt is the most comprehensive and reliable solution as of today. Below table shows some of the most easily accessible and better known (not hand-picked) devices compared to ours.
|Hshake & flashing||Protections||Galv. isolated||Voltage range||Auto-voltage||LEDs||Enclosure||Non-floating inputs||Max speed||GPIOs|
|μArt||✔||OCP, RPP, ESD||✔||1.8-5.4 V||✔||✔||✔||✔||3M||✔|
|FTDI cables||Only Hshake||OCP, but non-adequate||-||Only single voltage, except *VIP-WE||Only *VIP-WE||✔||✔||-||3M||-|
|Simone||Only for Arduino||-||✔||2.5-5 V||✔||✔||-||-||3M||-|
|DUPPA Isolated||-||-||✔||1.8-5 V||✔||✔||-||-||3M||-|
|rPi Console Cable||-||?||-||3.3 V||NA||-||✔||?||1M||-|
|FTDI Friend||Only Hshake||-||-||3.3/5 V||-||✔||-||-||3M||-|
|Most others||varies||-||-||3.3/5 V||-||✔||-||-||1-2M||-|