This is a popular USB to UART converter IC. They are on many popular product (i.e. Arduino and many more). This is a 28-pin SSOP package version. It can be soldered by hand or you can get an assembled breakout board here
Check out these really well done tutorials
on bit-banging SPI with the FT232. Nice work Michael!
Also check out this great cookbook
on FT232R by Joe Pardue.
• Single chip USB to asynchronous serial data transfer interface.
• Entire USB protocol handled on the chip. No USB specific firmware programming required.
• Fully integrated 1024 bit EEPROM storing device descriptors and CBUS I/O configuration.
• Fully integrated USB termination resistors.
• Fully integrated clock generation with no external crystal required plus optional clock output selection enabling a glue-less interface to external MCU or FPGA.
• Data transfer rates from 300 baud to 3 Mbaud (RS422, RS485, RS232 ) at TTL levels.
• 128 byte receive buffer and 256 byte transmit buffer utilising buffer smoothing technology to allow for high data throughput.
• FTDI‟s royalty-free Virtual Com Port (VCP) and Direct (D2XX) drivers eliminate the requirement for USB driver development in most cases.
• Configurable CBUS I/O pins.
• Transmit and receive LED drive signals.
• UART interface support for 7 or 8 data bits, 1 or 2 stop bits and odd / even / mark / space / no parity
• FIFO receive and transmit buffers for high data throughput.
• Synchronous and asynchronous bit bang interface options with RD# and WR# strobes.
• Device supplied pre-programmed with unique USB serial number.
• Supports bus powered, self powered and high-power bus powered USB configurations.
• Integrated +3.3V level converter for USB I/O.
• Integrated level converter on UART and CBUS for interfacing to between +1.8V and +5V logic.
• True 5V/3.3V/2.8V/1.8V CMOS drive output and TTL input.
• Configurable I/O pin output drive strength.
• Integrated power-on-reset circuit.
• Fully integrated AVCC supply filtering - no external filtering required.
• UART signal inversion option.
• +3.3V (using external oscillator) to +5.25V (internal oscillator) Single Supply Operation.
• Low operating and USB suspend current.
• Low USB bandwidth consumption.
• UHCI/OHCI/EHCI host controller compatible.
• USB 2.0 Full Speed compatible.
• -40°C to 85°C extended operating temperature range.
• FTDI Website
• FT232RL IC Datasheet
• FTClean (for removing extraneous/old ports)
• FTDI Driver Page