Build your own SOIC progamming clip

[Pyra] was looking for a way to reprogram some ATtiny13 microcontrollers in a SOIC package. He’s re-engineering some consumer electronics so adding an ISP header to the design isn’t an option. He had been soldering wires to the legs of every chip but this is quite tedious. What he needs is an adapter that can make physical contact with the legs just long enough to program new firmware. After looking around he discovered that a PCI socket can be used as a progamming clip (translated). It shares the same pitch as a standard SOIC package but is not wide enough for the chip. He cut out 4 rows of the socket and the section of motherboard it was soldered to. Then he made a cut down the middle of the plastic and bent the two sections apart. The image above illustrates this, but not shown are the eight wires that he later added to connect to the device.

We wonder if this can be adapted to program SOIC parts without removing them from a circuit board. That would be a handy tool for finishing up the LED lightbulb hack.


  1. tim says:

    very well done !
    thank you for this hack

  2. Erik Johnson says:

    Clever! this will come in handy for quick-release protoboarding my SIOCs instead of buying the DIP counterparts (I like SOIC for the easiest SMT to freehand solder pin-by-pin)

  3. crust says:

    why not just buy an soic clip — in that case they even have the stake pins so that you can just put a wire right on them.

  4. fartface says:

    I prefer buying a ISP clip, clip onto the chip on the board. no desoldering it to program it.

  5. Spork says:

    @Mike Szczys
    It wouldn’t work for the LED lightbulb hack, if you recall they tried to program the chip in place, but the support hardware prevents it from being programmed.

  6. ps1x says:
  7. Bill rowe says:

    Very nicely done! Do you solder the chips into the circuit after programming? What are they going in to?

  8. Erik Johnson says:

    @Spork This clip needs the IC pins to reside inside itself. It will not work with a mounted chip, it must be removed/standalone first. (the IC legs snuggle inside the space where the springy contacts go back inside the header)

  9. RicoElectrico says:

    On the *bottom* of the thread Pyra goes into details of building real in-PCB clip. Yes I know google transl8 sucks cause “wylutowania” means “desoldering”. Then it makes sense.

  10. nes says:

    Neat hack! I have a bag full of programmed tiny13s I need to reset the fuses on. Just the thought of needing to solder each one down meant I never got round to building a HV programmer.

  11. CH says:

    I spent ages trying to do something like this, glueing wires to mini pegs and such. I even tries ‘casting’ chips in polymorph and poking wires into the mould. In the end I came up with an easier method: loop ‘kylar’ wire (wire wrap wire) around the pin, then twist the loop tight. Then I made sure the wire couldn’t move and brush another pin, by covering in hot glue. Now I can attach things to the pins of a soldered chip with small pins :>

  12. Jenna Fox says:

    I recently needed to program some ATtiny13s for a Halloween project (animatronic squid hat), and found myself needing a similar solution. I built this little attiny13 socket by forming a lump of sculpty thermosetting plasticine, then pressing the top of the SOIC chip in to it, leaving a negative of the pins and chip shape. I then used a small needle to carve out two little flattened holes through which ribbon cable could be threaded up, and stripped the ends of the cable, running each little wire through the impression’s the ICs legs had left.

    I hooked this all up to some header pins, and reversed it around, so it essentially adapts an upside down attiny13 soic in to a right-way-up 8 pin dip, perfect for breadboarding, or plugging in to a little metaboard avr programmer shield I built. :)


  13. Cybergibbons says:

    I’d just go for one of the test clips for SOIC – – they are only about £10.

    I’d be interested in seeing what people do with SSOP packages… I’ve got something in the works for probing a few signals easily, but have been using these for a while:


  14. smoker_dave says:

    These cost about £10 from Farnell, called Newark in the US.

    Not worth the effort when you can buy a professionally made too for so cheap. And yes, these work with in circuit programming without any modification.

  15. Matt says:

    Cheaper still…

  16. Nate says:

    THAT ROCKS! Imminent need is the precursor maternal result of investigative genius.

  17. Xb0xguru says:

    This is great..

    IF you need to program SOIC in a hurry
    AND you have more than one to do
    OR you’re not comfortable with soldering wires to legs (if so, why are you purchasing SOIC’s?)

    I would imagine this situation would occur very infrequently. If you’re looking to program multiple SOICs, one would hope you’ve planned ahead enough to have a method of programming them!

  18. J6B says:


    nice infos.
    I have some SOT23 components to program (sot with 6 pins)
    I had a look at an old MB and I found out that AGP port corresponding to SOT size!!


  19. Rachel says:

    This is great. I’d love to see a TSOP version though. I’ve been wanting to look at embedded flash chips, but the commercial clips are extremely expensive for some reason.

  20. Manekinen says:

    Must say that this is brilliant, i’m using this a while, works perfect.

    (last picture from mentioned thread)

  21. Inspired by this I came up with a solution for ICs not yet mounted – sort of a temporary DIP to SOIC converter.

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