Ollie USB board exposes isolated UART, CAN, USB, RS485 & RS232 interfaces (crowdfunding)

Just like months, we wrote about Tigard open-source USB FT2232H board for hardware hacking with easy access to OpenOCD, JTAG, Cortex, flashrom interfaces used to debug/flash boards, extra I/Os with UART, SPI, and I2C, as well as a header to connect a logic analyzer and observe signals.

If the board does not exactly match your requirements, Ollie USB board might, also it may not serve exactly the same purpose(s). The board acts as a USB bridge to isolated UART (x2), CAN, USB, RS485, and RS232 interfaces.

Ollie specifications:

  • MCU – STMicro STM32F042 Arm Cortex-M0 microcontroller with CAN interface
  • Host interface – Micro USB port
  • Isolated interfaces (all with ESD protection)
    • 2x UART ports up to 12 Mbps with 1.8/3.3/5 V voltage levels (set by slide switch)
    • CAN bus based on CANable/CANtact open hardware, flashed with dual firmware CANtact and Candlelight (switch selectable) and equipped with termination resistor switch
    • Downstream USB – USB Type-A connector up to 12 Mbps; current limited with auto-restart, reverse current protection
    • RS485 up to 500 kbps
    • RS232 up to 235 kbps (typ.)
    • Optional CAN/RS232/RS485 DB9 pluggable connector with mode selectable by switch (see photo below).
    • Power output
      • 1.8/3.3/5 V output voltage set by slide switch before applying power for safety (can be changed in firmware)
      • Current-limited with auto-restart (~100m V drop at max current)
        • 5 V @ 200 mA
        • 3.3 V @ 300 mA
        • 1.8 V @ 300 mA
      • Reverse voltage protection up to 10 V, reverse current protection, reverse polarity protection
DB9 pluggable connector

The main goal of Ollie is to reduce the number of adapters needed so you can use an all-in-one converter for all your interfacing needs without taking the risk of damaging your host computer/laptop.board thanks to isolated interfaces. The board can also be used as a small 1.8/3.3/5V isolated power supply. The voltage level must be set before plugging in the host USB to prevents accidental changes in voltage.

Typical use cases include high-speed 1.8/3.3/5V isolated UART, safely power target board from  USB port safely, auto flash ESP32, Arduino, or similar board, isolated CAN interface to vehicles, isolated RS485/RS232 communication. You’ll find all resources to get started on Github.

The developer, Ali Slim, just launched Ollie all-in-one USB board  on Crowd Supply with a $4,200 funding goal that has already been surpassed. A pledge of $56 is asked for the board and a custom protective enclosure, and you’d need to add $8 to get the optional DB9 adapter board. Shipping is free to the US, and $8 to the rest of the world with backers getting their rewards shipped in April 2021 if everything goes according to plans.

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