We employ two UART boards in the course, one which can be connected to the serial connector of the PC (UART-RS232), and a second that can be connected to a USB port (UART-USB). The former is used in the lab and is part of the standard take-home equipment. The latter is part of the (limited!) number of take-home targets for students who are working on a Laptop without serial connector. In both cases, communication is done with the UART module of the microcontroller. In the case of the normal UART board, the MAX232 simply transforms the voltage levels to RS-232 standards (± 3-15V; in our case 12V, with LOW=+12V and HIGH=-12V). In case of the UART-USB, the FT232BM transforms the UART protocol to the USB protocol. This is transparent to the controller, which communicates over the normal TX and RX pins.
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