Launchpad not limited to value line chips

Wanting to use my TI Launchpad as more than just a development board I thought I’d do a few experiments using it as an in-system programmer. After a few tripping points I was able to get it working and then some. It seems that the device is not limited to just the value line of microcontrollers it was intended to support. In the image above I’m using it to program an MSP430F2272 which is a pretty powerful little chip with 32 KB of program space. Click through the break for more information on the setup.

Continue reading “Launchpad not limited to value line chips”

USB hub used for In System Programming

Did you order that 4-port USB hub because it was almost free but now it’s just sitting in your junk box? Why not turn it into an In System Programmer for AVR chips? [Paul] came up with HUB ISP as an answer to the chicken-or-egg problem we’ve seen with other diy programmers. It uses the data wires from four different USB cables to program AVR chips, enlisting the help of a 74HC00 NAND gate along the way. You do not need to have a programmed microcontroller as all the magic happens on the software end of things. The one caveat is that [Paul’s] method currently only works on Linux machines.

Arduino programmer for Arduino

Wow, that title is flamebait… but give us a chance to explain. [George] wrote some code for the Arduino that allows it to program another Arduino. You may be thinking to yourself “this has already been done”. In a way it has, with the AVR ISP programming shield. But once the code has been uploaded to the Arduino, you don’t need a computer to program the next chip. This concept turns an Arduino into an in-the-field programmer. Right now his code only programs the ATmega328 and it’s a little buggy, but the concept is solid. A fully functioning independent programmer is easy to image; [George] has laid the ground work, the AVR ISP programming firmware has proven this can work with several different chips, and if your AVR has an ATmega328 there should be plenty of room to store the code you plan to flash to the target microprocessors. It’s up to you to put all the pieces together.

PIC powered AVR programmer

[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.

AVR Dragon wiring alternative


We love our AVR Dragon programmer. It is a small board with a lot of functionality: in-circuit serial programming, JTAG, debug wire, and high voltage serial programming. Unfortunately, out of the box it is not quite ready for action. The Dragon ships with an unpopulated prototyping area and missing a pin header for the HVSP. For most people this means soldering on pin headers and a ZIF socket then jumpering between the various programming headers and the header for the socket. Tired of working with jumper wires, [Jussi] designed a small PCB to make the connections (original link in Finnish). Continue reading “AVR Dragon wiring alternative”

AVR ISP programming via Arduino

ardunio avr isp programming

We found this Arduino AVR ISP programmer particularly interesting. AVR microcontrollers can utilize an interface called In-System-Programming. ISP allows the chip to be programmed or reprogrammed while in an actual circuit via a pin header. Atmel’s solution is the AVR ISP MKII programing tool. The MKII can also be reprogrammed just as an AVR. The difference here is that most people are not likely to modify the MKII to be used as anything but a programmer. On the other hand if you already have the Arduino, fetch the avr.isp.03 firmware and AVRdude. Then program a device, for example an ATtiny13 using the Ardunio as the programmer. All the project information is provided under the CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. On a related note we covered a Microcontroller cheat sheet which covers AVR devices and ISP pinouts.