Some of the converters come in cell phone cables which can be had for just a couple of bucks. They have been used to connect usb ports to serial arduinos: http://www.uchobby.com/index.php/2009/10/04/diy-usb-to-serial-cable-for-3/ BMorse and I hae differed befor on how much smarts to have on the end of the cable, I like more, he is willing to make do with less.easiest way to do it is to get a FT232BM USB to serial converter IC. You do not need a uc or an "Arduino"...... If all you are doing is toggling an output on or off, use some of the RS232 control pins for controlling the outputs.....
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by Gary Elinoff