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Project 3 - USBtinyISP

With all my various prototyping boards like the Arduinos, Pi's, Sanguinololu, Panelolu, Meltzi...I'm building up quite a collection. Bearing in mind that if I want to embed any MCUs into projects so I can free up the prototype boards, it seemed logical to get a programmer or two in stock. As it happened, I also needed one for my JYETech DSO too, in order to get the firmware updated, so this prompted me to complete the build this week.

This particular kit comes from Adafruit, a US hobbyist kit maker who have put together a number of quality kits in their own right. They also partner with the Make organisation through the excellent Makershed shop.

The kits comes supplied with all through hole components, a nice plastic case and most importantly both six and ten pin standard connectors. When assembled, the kit offers USB AVR in system programming using the AVRDUDE software. The best place to get the latest version of WinAVR is at SourceForge.

I'm making an assumption here that you know what AVR is...I'm not going to go into detail here, but a very high level explanation can be found here.

For a very simple example of how to use the device, have a look at my DSO build page, where I use it to update the DSO's firmware.

The kit goes together pretty quickly as there are only about 25 components, so I didn't bother to take pictures of the build itself. In total it took around 30 minutes to assemble.

The only gotcha with the build is the placement of the two status LEDs. These need to be installed much higher off the board than you  might think to allow them to poke out through the casing when it's all snapped together. I managed to get this right on the green LED, but soldered the red one too close to the board. This isn't really a problem for me as the red LED is a data I/O indicator and is also quite bright, so even though it's not poking through, I can still see it flashing away when there is traffic on the device.

This AVRISP will do the job on a number of the smaller Amtel based systems I have, but not all. I will have to find a beefier version to program the bigger chips with more than 64k capacity.