Adding GPIO to a PC or laptop

The FT232H board converts a USB port into GPIO or General Purpose Input Output to be used like a Raspberry Pi for hobbyists, also offering I2C and SPI serial interfaces.

General Purpose Input/Output or GPIO is a common thing to find on a Raspberry Pi or on an Arduino based microcontroller board. This is not something you find on a PC because the USB ports do everything you need them to do. If you want to add a device that is made for Arduino or Raspberry Pi to your computer, you are stuffed.

FT323H Breakout board

The FT232H (the 232 in the name implies RS232 serial) breakout board by Adafruit offers more than just a serial converter, it also provides i2c, SPI and GPIO pins for connecting any Arduino or Raspberry Pi compatible module. It won’t do HATs because those are specific to Raspberry Pi though.

There is a power regulator on the board so that 5v and 3.3v are available to this board from the USB-C connector.

Additionally, there are Stemma QT and Quicc connectors on the board for projects that use those connectors.

You can access the devices using CircuitPython or Blinka.

Adafruit have a tutorial on how to use the different buses on Windows, Mac and Linux here.

The board is available from Amazon for around £20.

The following video explains how to use the board with a BME280 temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure sensor.

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