What is it? This is a simple adapter which enables you to communicate with projects over RS485. The stick has an FTDI chip, micro USB port, RS485 driver, RJ45 connector, and TX, RX, and power LEDs. Another really nice feature of this stick is that it can be used to inject power into the RJ45 jack; +V on pins 4,5 and -V on pins 7,8. This is a standard "passive PoE" injection scheme, which is used in a variety of commercial equipment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_over_Ethernet#Passive).
Why did we make it? We created this to make prototyping our RS485-based sensor networks easier. They're a simple way to both communicate with and power a remote project. We chose the passive PoE pinout to be compatible with commercially available injectors and, of course, consistency.
RS485 is a robust signalling protocol and these sticks can be used to communicate for hundreds of feet. Even though it's easy to connect PCs together over Ethernet, it's a fun demonstration to connect two computers together with RS485 Sticks and a crossover cable to send messages between two serial terminals!
Because MicroUSB is the standard now, we find it really annoying to have to hunt for a Mini connector to use the usual FTDI breakouts. This stick and our other USB-enabled products use micro connectors for maximum convenience.
The RS485 Stick is special because...*
is two boards in one! Yep, if there comes as time when you don't need the whole stick, it can be sawn in half to get:
So you get two breakouts for the price of one, if you're willing to do a little cutting.
Schematic Available Here: rs485-usb.pdf
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Our primary mission at Visgence is to make the Internet work great for everyone. Our work enables people to access local network and Internet resources faster, safer, and in more ways than ever before. We design and build networking solutions at every level: national data centers, major campuses, last-mile broadband, and small business. Visgence staff have all of the expertise required to integrate Things into today's Internet. We are experts in mesh networking, high-capacity wireless, data storage and servers, and web application development - all of the things required to bring complex networking projects to life.
Because our specialty is in remote sites and other innovative network environments, we often have to develop unique solutions to problems like power management, control, site monitoring, and data acquisition. Our Tindie store is stocked with the results of some of those projects and we hope that you can use them to make more cool stuff!