[Texane] wrote in to let us know he has implemented AVR ISP programming using a PIC microcontroller. He wrote some code for an 18F4550 that uses the STK500 standard for In System Programming. This means that his hardware is compatible with AVRdude, the open source AVR programming software. There has long been an argument over the virtues of PIC versus AVR but we say why not both? If you have already honed your programming chops with PIC, you can build your own programmer and give the Atmel family a try.
The current implementation uses a serial port to connect the programmer to a computer. Keep your eye on this one as [texane] plans to add USB connectivity and has told us he will post schematics for the device as soon as that is complete.