I am thinking forward to buy a set of Arduino pro mini. I have a very low budget and I can't think of buying a FTDI board. Is there any substitute for the FTDI board that is compatible with these arduino pro mini.

  • You could get an USBasp from eBay for around 2$, it can even program microcontrollers that don't have a bootloader (which may save you some), but they don't work for USB communication – Paul Apr 2 '17 at 8:01
  • Could you explain why you want to buy/use the Pro Mini in particular, and what else (if anything) you'll be using with it? – cjs Apr 2 '17 at 8:10
  • Actually, I had an Arduino Nano which I have burned So I thought of getting the Pro Mini as they are more smaller and cheap So I thought of buying them – Sagnik Pradhan Apr 2 '17 at 9:02
  • if your computer has a serial port, you just need some solid-core wires.. – dandavis Apr 2 '17 at 18:21
  • @dandavis How can I do that ? – Sagnik Pradhan Apr 3 '17 at 13:10

All prices in USD w/ free shipping.

FT232RL breakout board:

  • Aliexpress: $1.55
  • eBay: $1.81

They are probably counterfeit. A Windows driver update (AKA "FTDIgate") at one point "bricked" them but I'm not sure that's an issue anymore. Even if it is it's Windows only and easy enough to work around. I've used these for years on Windows and they work fine for me.

If that's still beyond your budget there are a few other common options. I haven't used these breakout boards but I do have quite a few boards that use the CH340G and they work perfectly once you install the driver. There's a decent chance some of these will also be counterfeit. Some didn't break out the DTR/CTS pin for auto reset but if you're on such a low budget maybe it's worth it to you to press the reset button on every upload to save a few cents. They may not have the standard FTDI header pinout and if so would require you to use jumpers to connect them to the Pro Mini rather than plugging directly into the header.

PL2303 breakout board:

  • Aliexpress: $0.50
  • eBay: $0.74

These don't appear to break out the DTR or CTS pins so they won't do auto-reset.

CH340G breakout board:

  • Aliexpress: $0.72
  • eBay: $0.93

These don't appear to break out the DTR or CTS pins so they won't do auto-reset.

CP2102 breakout board:

  • Aliexpress $1.00
  • eBay: $1.31
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  • I live in India and I need DTR or CTS pins but In the worst scenarios I will adjust. – Sagnik Pradhan Apr 2 '17 at 9:03
  • These are all shipped from China so the shipping should be free to India also. I verified that shipping on the Aliexpress FTDI FT232RL board is free to India. The nice thing about the Pro Mini is you can use one USB-serial board for all your Pro Minis so you really only need to buy one, though it's always nice to have a spare in case of magic smoke. – per1234 Apr 2 '17 at 12:21
  • But the shipping takes one month – Sagnik Pradhan Apr 2 '17 at 12:48
  • Yes, I have waited even longer than that here in the US for some of my orders but sometimes much shorter. I seem to get slower shipping from Aliexpress than eBay. You didn't say anything about needing it quickly in your question. Do some research for a supplier in India for the fastest delivery time. – per1234 Apr 2 '17 at 13:04

Basically, you need any way to talk to the serial interface (on digital pins 0 and 1) on the Pro Mini. Remember that for programming you'll also need to be able to manipulate the reset line on the target board, usually done via DTR.

If you already have an Arduino board with USB, you could write a small sketch that uses that as the interface. Using the SoftwareSerial library or the AltSoftSerial library you could have the USB Arduino talk to the Pro Mini via a couple of data pins and relay the data back and forth. Depending on the Arduino you use and how you program it, it may or may not be able to keep up with 115,200 bps, but rates at or below 57,600 bps should be fine. You'll also need to handle the DTR and CTS signals for programming; this can be done with a couple more data pins.

In general what you're trying to do (whether you go with my solution or another one) is not a beginner project. If you're not familiar enough with Arduino systems to answer the question you posed, I'd strongly suggest buying an Uno, Nano or other board with integrated USB rather than trying to play with the Pro (which is called that for a reason).

If the cost of a single Arduino board is an issue, make sure you're looking around for the cheapest sources. You can find "non-brand" versions of many boards, such as this "Nano" for considerably lower prices than you'll see from the name-brand vendors. They're lower quality and you're not supporting the Arduino ecosystem, but they help when you have a very limited budget.

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  • I have an Arduino Nano which is actually burned! – Sagnik Pradhan Apr 2 '17 at 9:04

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