At last, an ATmega328P Programmer

Having a problem making the programmer I found a way around that should solve it.

The problem was that I made a programmer work on a bread board, but when I soldered it on a PCB prototype board, it just would not work. I tested all my solder points, tore it apart and soldered it once again, after testing all the components, but to no avail. The darn thing wouldn't work. 

Even though I had no problem making it work on the bread board, it just would not work on a prototype board, meaning now was the time to think.

The picture on the right is half the solution. My thought was to buy an Arduino UNO and a chip holder as shown on the right, stick the holder in the UNO and I should end up with a god and quite inexpensive programmer for the Atmege328P chip, that I have ten of in my drawer, just waiting for me to use them in a project.


Just a little tip: If you click on the pictures, you wil get the picture bigger in its own window!

Now, I got the chip holder, but of cause I had ordered the wrong size. It was way to wide. This one would not be just stuck in place of any chip on this UNO, that's for sure!

Now I had to think.

  • Buy another one of the right size? Nah! That'd take another 3 to 5 weeks to get here from China, That would not be a fun option at all.
  • Now I could solder longer legs to it, and make them fit into the holes and work that way.
    I started on that but soon found out that it would be difficult, not impossible though, but it wouldn't look to nice either.
  • Make an odd working thing out of it!
    By using copper wires, I could make a platform to put the holder on, and at the same thing make it look quite fun, I think.

I went for the third option, as you can see on the picture to the left. 

I burnt of the lacquer of the end of about 30 pieces of copper wire, about 3 cm long. I winded the copper wire around a piece of prototype board to get them the same size. I did that with solder, so afterwards I had already tinned them.

The chip holder got soldered to a prototype board that was cut to size.

Then I started soldering pin by pin in its place. I soldered both ends, but if you are going to make one like it, remember to heat the socket on the UNO as little as possible for the plastic in those melt at quite low temperature. I knew this and was careful.

At the right you can see a test I did to see if it would fit as it should - it did!

It was a bit narrow to solder because the ones I'd done kept coming in the way, and the ones not yet done also made a bit h€ll for me as I touched them with the soldering iron, so I connected the one that i was soldering to the one next to it.

I managed anyway.

This is my first test.

I didn't extend the LEDs up to the prototype board, since I have left it open so they are very visible.

Already, it's quite firm, just hanging on the leads down to the socket on the UNO, but I did secure it better.

Here is my solution for stabilizing the programmer. 

I used some thicker varnished copper leads. In the bottom I did not remove the varnish, so I could stick them down into the Arduino's pin holes at the sides.

On this picture you can see how I soldered the leads to the prototype board. After that I cut the ends sticking up, to give it a nicer surface.


I had one problem I could not live with.

The handle that fasten the chip had a tendency to come a little bit out, and the result of that was that it was way to easy to turn the handle to far, with a not so good result. It became looser, and the phenomena also wear out the holder faster. 

I solved that with a piece of copper wire soldered in front of it.


This is the finished product. I have marked pin 1 just to be safe. The programmer is working perfectly, but it can not be used as a development board any more, as some of the holes for pin out are used to stabilize it.

That doesn't matter I have an older UNO that I bought a couple of months ago for dev. I bought this one for this sole purpose, and i think I've gotten a good, relatively inexpensive programmer for the Atmega328P chip - a chip i expect to use a lot in the time coming.


As always:

Hope you learned something.