USB Serial Converters
Most microcontrollers use the serial protocol to communicate with other device and/or get flashed.
If you want to use a computer in order to communicate with a microcontroller, you will need a USB-Serial adapter. While these are often available on the board already (in case you use the development boards), you might have the need to use one of the specific USB-Serial Converters.
PL2303 USB Serial Converter
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The PL2303 is a cheap chip which is the base for many USB-Serial Converters. We have some available in the CoMakingSpace which you can use for temporary projects.
The ones we have are based on the PL-2303 XA/HXA chip. Unfortunately, the latest official drivers do not support Windows 10 anymore (see here).
However, somebody uploaded an old driver version to a wordpress blog, which makes the chips work on Windows 10. Of course, use this at your own risk.
CH340 USB Serial Converter
The cheap USB serial module CH340 is not supported by default in older versions of Windows. Latest Windows should support CH340 out of the box. Otherwise you need to install the drivers manually.
brew cask install homebrew/cask-drivers/wch-ch34x-usb-serial-driver
Works out of the box.