Cheap DIY ICSP Boards for ATtiny and ATmega MCs

Cheap DIY ICSP Boards for ATtiny and ATmega MCs

I recently make a couple of breakout boards for USB connections to use on a breadboard, these are just a male and a female type A USB connector and some header pins soldered to some strip-board.


One thing that irks me, when I am prototyping a new circuit, is that when I need to program the micro-controller, this usually means wiring up the ICSP from scratch on a breadboard each time and usually all my breadboard space is used up by some other project.

Yes, you can make use of an Arduino board and simply plug an ATmega328P chip in and blast that directly, but I am often making use of ATtiny AVR chips and again don’t really want to be tying up a board simply to upload some code to a chip.

There are a few options available for sale, this one is particularly good:

It is available from Inside Gadgets for $4.50 + $3.00 P&P (£4.80) as a bare board with the SMD parts pre-soldered.

However being a cheapskate I decided to make my own using some strip board and some pin headers.

All that is really needed for each chip are the 6 pins used by the ICSP – VCC, GND, RST, MOSI, MISO and SCK, unfortunately each chip locates these pins in different places, so I decided on one board per chip type and a standard header to connect to a programmer.

Here is the various layouts I have done so far:

ATtiny25/45/85 DIP 8 chips

ATtiny24/44/84 DIP 14 chips

ATtiny2313/2314 DIP 20 chips

ATmega48/88/168/328P DIP 28 chips

First I marked up a sheet of strip board, (the same one I cut the USB headers from)

I cut out the boards and cut the relevant traces

I then soldered the pin headers and lengths of copper wire for the jumpers

rear view

The connector is simply 6 DuPont female-female wires with one end in a 1×6 connector block and the other end in a 2×5 connector block wired as for an ISP programmer

I can now use any of these boards as a stand-alone programming setup with either of my main ISP programmers.

I simply plug the 2×5 connector into the ISP and the 1×6 connector into the appropriate board.
I may yet make up a board for ATmega164/324/644/1284P DIP 40 chips, as I regularly use these in my 3D Printers.
Total cost for the whole project is probably less than £0.50 ($0.75).

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