FT232RL

USB-TTL interface devices on OS X

Preamble

I purchased a number of USB-TTL devices from eBay. None of them want to play ball when plugged into my MacBook Pro. The first is a FTDI device, the others are clones:

  • FT232RL
  • CH340G
  • CP2102
  • PL2303

All work fine on a Windows 7 PC, but Macs are always quite touchy with the clones. FTDI drivers are available, and as of OSX 10.9, Apple include the FTDI drivers, so the FT232RL device should (in theory) be recognised. The other drivers offer varying success rates, for example CH340G. The CP2102 and PL2303 are physically very similar devices.

See also USB-Serial interfaces.

System Information for each device

Below, are the devices listed, along with the output of About My Mac… (System Information).

Here is the System Information pane, with no device inserted, for OS X 10.9.5:

About My Mac... (System Information)
About My Mac… (System Information) No device inserted
  • USB2.0 To TTL Serial 6Pin Converter CH340G Instead of PL2303 for STC Arduino PRO
CH340G
CH340G

It is not recognised by the Mac

MyMac-USB-CH340g
MyMac-USB-CH340g
  • 6Pin USB 2.0 to TTL UART Module Serial Converter CP2102 STC Replace Ft232 Module
CP2102
CP2102
MyMac-USB-CP2102
MyMac-USB-CP2102
  • FT232RL FTDI Serials Adapter Module Mini Port f. Arduino USB to TTL 3.3V 5.5V
FT232RL
FT232RL

It is recognised by the Mac

MyMac-USB-FT232RL
MyMac-USB-FT232RL
  • GOOD USB To RS232 TTL PL2303HX Converter Module Adapter For Arduino UK SK
PL2303HX
PL2303HX

PL2303HX on the Mac is NOT recognised

MyMac-USB-PL2303
MyMac-USB-PL2303
XBee explorer
XBee explorer

is recognised, thanks to the in-built FTDI chip

MyMac-USB-Explorer FTDI
MyMac-USB-Explorer FTDI

Other information

From How to use a MAC for connecting through the console port ?

There’s a new Mac app called Serial available on the App Store. Full disclosure- I wrote it. We got tired of having to find and install drivers for different serial adapters and devices we have here in order to administer Cisco switches, so we wrote our own terminal that uses its own built-in drivers for the most common chipsets available. There’s a free demo available.

Also, as of Mac OS X 10.9, Apple began shipping their own FTDI driver. So, if you’re using a USB-serial adapter that uses the FTDI chipset (many of the higher-end adapters do), you don’t need to worry about installing drivers and can use the built-in screen command in the Terminal to access serial ports.

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