7 April 2012

A USB/ISP Programmer (Part 2)

Programming Software for the USBasp

There are several interesting options, how to use the USBasp programmer. The LCSoft variant was sold with the option to download a program called ProgISP V1.72 from the vendors site. Also, a schematic was available as well as the drivers for Windows. Installation was no problem. I found no user manual in English, but usage of the software is fairly straight forward.

6 April 2012

A USB/ISP Programmer (Part 1)


When I started this blog I meant to do so mainly in order to document my own projects. I found that when I wanted to re-use parts of one of my projects I sometimes couldn't remember why I had made certain decisions. So I needed to document my work. And if anyone else could benefit from it, why not publish all in a blog?

But I never intended to bore anybody with my opinions on anything. This post is an exception, because I think I came across someone's project (or product) I really like. It is open source, so you don't have to buy anything. Also, I won't post any links to a store, etc.

How I flash my Firmware on 8-bit Atmel Controllers

I made my first steps in the old days, when PCs used to have a serial port. And my first programmer was a ponyprog serial programmer. It worked well, but some time later I decided to buy the STK500 from Atmel. This allowed me to use all existing programming modes and to directly flash from the AVR Studio. For a very long time, this was my main development tool. And it still sits on my desk. But it has disadvantages. It isn't really mobile. It needs a mains power supply. And nowadays you need a USB-to-serial converter to connect it.

I sometimes write programs on my netbook. So the way to go these days is to use a USB based programmer. There are lots on offer. But I found one that suits my needs really well. It is based on the USBasp project. This is an open source USB programmer, which is small and simple. It gets powered and controlled by the USB port. It uses standard components (e.g. an ATmega8), so you can build it yourself. A piece of perf board will do, really. Although various optimised layouts are available for download, if you want to make a PCB. Kits are available, too.

But what really surprised me was the fact that some Chinese companies manufacture USBasp compatible hardware. They are sold through the well known channels. And you can get them for almost no money. I bought two different devices for under 3 € each. And this includes shipping!

I don't know how they can sell them at such a low price. As an end user I would pay more than 4 € for the components, let alone shipping. This was an offer I could not resist, so I ordered two different versions, apparently from different manufacturers.

The Hardware

And this is what I got after waiting for a couple of weeks:

(top view)