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Microcontroller Programming » Simplest programmer for non-bootloader-enabled atmega chips ?

April 12, 2009
by ayourtch
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thought something I found while playing with the nerdkit during my vacation... I've got a few atmel chips on the second day of playing with the nerdkit - at this price and capabilities they just have to be there in the toolbox as spares :)

So, obviously first you need to get the bootloader on them.

I fouund this one: DASA - a very very simple serial "DASA" programmer. The most entertaining thing there was that I seriously improvised with the schematics (By "seriously" I mean the resistor nominals a few times bigger than in the schematics, and the pairs of "2xLED + counter-polar diode" instead of schottka diodes :)

Yet it seemed to work fine! What was cool about having the LEDs was that they gave somewhat the activity status of the programming cycle which is very very very very long, compared to nerdkit's bootloader.

I saw in the manual that one would need the parallel port - any reason why not use the serial port ? (especially that the USB-serial converter comes with the nerdkit ?)

April 18, 2009
by mrobbins
(NerdKits Staff)

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Hi ayourtch,

We've experimented with a DASA-type programmer in the past, and found that programming the chip often took 2-3 minutes, which is quite painful. But you are right that this might have value for putting the bootloader onto "fresh" chips in the first place. We'll keep this in mind -- thanks for the suggestion.


April 25, 2009
by digiassn
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I use the Parralel port programmer for fresh chips I order from the manufacturer. I have a simple circuit I built and a spare laptop that are dedicated to initializing these fresh chips. Cost a little more because I used a Ziff socket. Never used any serial based programmer except for the Nerdkits one, which to my best understanding, uses a USB serial port and inverter for RS232 interface.

The Nerdkit USB programmer have a distinct advantage, you can use it In-Circuit on the MCU. I put a DB9 connector on the end of my Nerdkits programmer, and use a standard wiring out of any of my circuits. This way a few switches will turn the chip on for in circuit programming and I dont have to fiddle with wires in breadboards or posts. I also build all my circuits with sockets, that way I don't have to worry about constantly pulling out and plugging in the MCU and risk breaking leads off. If I fry an MCU (which I have), I can easily just use another one by pulling out the old and popping in the new, and no risk of damage due to the heat of an iron. I can write a quick and dirty unit test program to prototype circuits to make sure outputs behave correctly and inputs receive input correctly, and then I can work on the program logic after the prototype board is done.

The draw back is that you need some sort of programmer to put the bootloader in place. I didn't have any real technical reason to using the parallel programmer than the serial except the parallel one was the first one I came across :)

August 17, 2009
by Nerdful_com
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In the nerdkit guide they mention that they have a parellel port hack they can send you. But for the simplest method, I would suggest buying a $20 to $30 ISP programnmer (search ebay "avr isp"). Sorry for bad spelling, in rush as my 4 year old is climbing all over me at this monet


September 06, 2009
by avr
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Be aware that AVR's ISP programmer is in its 2nd iteration, and is labelled the AVRISP MkII. It is not expensive at USD $34 from, etc.

December 05, 2009
by pbfy0
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the DASA programmer should be here

September 16, 2012
by scootergarrett
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Hopefully old threads with new comments get looked at. So if I have a blank Atmega 328P I could boot load it with say Pocket AVR Programmer, and the boot load code that came with the download, and maybe some drivers and a program (free) correct? No one has made a way to plug my nerdkit Atmega168 into a blank chip and take it from there?


September 16, 2012
by Noter
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I think the answer is yes although I suppose you have to buy the AVR programmer. You could also turn your Atmega168 into a programmer - My Nerdkit is an ISP Programmer

September 17, 2012
by killercow
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Hey Noter! Nice to see you back!

Kevin (Killercow)

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