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

dragon_jumper_board

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). [Read more...]

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.

Microcontroller cheat sheet

micro-cheat-sheet

[Alex] put together this handy cheat sheet to make pinout lookups much quicker. It covers the most common chips from the AVR line, ISP headers, and FTDI cables.

Temperature sensing Munny

munny

Here’s another nerdy present that was built for Valentine’s Day. [João Silva] created a temperature sensing Munny. A Munny is a vinyl toy made to be customized. Other than these Munny speakers, we haven’t seen them in many electronics projects. The LM35CZ temperature sensor has an analog output that connects to the ADC on the ATtiny15L. The microcontroller changes the RGB LED’s color based on the temperature: blue for cold, green for comfortable, and red for hot. It only flashes every three minutes to conserve the power in the coin cells. His one-off circuit board also includes an ISP header for programming. The Munny’s head looks like it does a great job diffusing the light.

ATtiny breadboard headers

attiny

[Alex] was frustrated by the amount of time it took to start prototyping with an AVR ATtiny. To make things easier, he built headers that carry the 8 and 20 pin chips and plug directly into breadboards. The boards include a 6pin ISP header, resonator, pull-up resistor, reset, and blocking caps. The ATtiny2313 version also has a serial connection header. This is a prototype though, and he forgot to route one of the connections. He plans on having a large batch of boards ready for next month.

Dismantling the Storm Worm botnet

malware

Zero Day has an interview with German researchers who have found a way to take down the Storm Worm botnet. Their program, Stormfucker, takes advantage of flaws in Storm’s command network: Nodes that are NAT‘d only use a four-byte XOR challenge. Nodes that aren’t NAT’d are only using a trivial 64bit RSA signature. Their solution can clean infected machines and also distribute to other nodes. Unfortunately, installing software without the user’s consent is the exact same behavior as malware. Don’t expect to see this in any sort of widespread use. The researchers did point out that some ISPs have moved to shutting off service for infected customers until their machines are cleaned.

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