Saturday, March 08, 2008

Atmel Atmega8 ICSP on breadboard

icsp.jpgOver the past year, I've given up on the PIC micros and have been getting up to speed with the AVR ATMega processors. My favourite is the ATMega8 and 168 which come in a 28 pin DIL package and have loads of I/O.

I've purchased a few boards, made a reasonable one, but for prototyping I keep coming back to the breadboards.

First off I made a simple PC parallel port programmer which worked but was rather inconvenient for me and would stop the project running after programming. In the end I purchased the AVRISPMKII which is really excellent and works perfectly with my Mac. This device has some smarts which set it apart from the simpler devices out there. The multi-coloured LED tells you if it's seeing the voltage it expects to see for example.

The prototyping board is a really excellent on I bought from Parallax some time back called the "Professional Development Board #28138" it has on board switches, LEDs, audio amp and speaker, potentiometers, seven segment displays, serial port, real time clock etc etc. Of course it can be used with any CPU.

Anyhow, the news here is that I've made up a little adapter board that converts the 6 pin In Circuit Serial Programming into both the 10 pin version, my own in-line version and now a plug with fly leads as shown above that I can plug directly in to a proto board.

The objective of all this madness is to build some ham applications of which there are many.

I'm using:

So far I've got useful things going such as reading a value from an analog to digital input and writing it out via serial to an LCD display.

I notice that the ATMega8s come set to run at 1MHz with the internal RC oscillator, this works just fine but I turn them up to 8MHz internal and find this accurate enough to do serial at 9600 baud.


  1. Hi, I couldn't help but stop to say hello. I'm a ham in the U.S. (KQ4YA). I was cruising some ham sites looking at the tiny battery-powered Yaesu and came across your blog.

    Then I noticed where you are - my two best friends just left the U.S. and arrived in Sydney on your Saturday (my Friday) to live for a year. He'll be teaching at the University of New South Wales. So that was coincidence enough for me to stop in and say hello.

    I'm also interested in technology and photography, by the way.

    Anyway, nice blog - I'm sure my friends (Ben and Judy) will enjoy their year in Sydney. And I think I'll try to work some Australian stations while they are over there.


  2. Hey Bill,

    Thanks for the comment and good work there in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


  3. sanjeet kumar10:22 AM

    hey bill !!
    can you help me out??
    i want to make a programmer circuit for ATmega8. I want to burn this IC with my laptop which is having USB ports only. I am using AVR studio for programming..But i dont know how to program the ICs.
    please help me..and mail me at