AVR Programmer

Below is a 3D model of the streamlined AVR Doper created in POV-Ray using Eagle3D. I only wanted to build an ISP so I was able to lose many of the components related to HVSP. I rounded the edges and scaled the board to fit in an Altoids tin.

USB ISP Rendering

My simple inexpensive parallel ISP programmer below has done the job since I started working with AVR’s, but it definitely has its problems. It doesn’t work with some computers, it is slow, it is unreliable and it requires a parallel port which is getting less common.

Parallel ISPParallel ISP Schematics

USB seemed the natural progression so I selected the AVR Doper project by Objective Development as the base for the new programmer.  I modified the Objective Development schematics and circuit board using the free version of CadSoft Eagle. I designed the board to be single-sided but it does require 4 bridges.

USB ISP Board Drawing

I etched the circuit board using a laser printer, glossy photo paper, hydrogen peroxide and muriatic acid. Here are my etching notes and this is a great website that further details the process.

USB ISP Traces

Here is the completed board.


Here is a shot of the board mounted in the Altoids tin.


Next I powder coated the Altoids tin with a metallic silver finish.

USB ISP case

Here is the pinout for the 10 pin ISP header jack.

ISP Header

The AVR .hex code, USB .inf driver and other info is available from the AVR Doper Project site.
Fuse Settings: CKSEL=1110 SUT=10 (See Bascom Fuse Settings below)

Fuse Settings

I have successfully tested the programmer with the 2008-11-27 firmware. Here are my upgrading notes. The USB programmer can be used to upgrade itself if you have a spare ATMega8 chip.

Please read the FAQ before asking questions.

Note (from AVR Doper website): Implementing a USB CDC device with AVR-USB violates some aspects of USB 1.1. CDC-Mode may therefore fail or be unreliable on some operating systems or computer hardware. Please look at the compatibility list included in the AVR-CDC project or test a simplified prototype on breadboard with your computer if you want to use CDC mode.We recommend that you use AVR-Doper in HID mode instead, which has no such problem. This mode is supported by AVRDude. More information about interface modes and their relative advantages can be found in the project description.

AVRDude 5.3.1 and higher now supports the AVR Doper programmer.


Raspberry Pi Also check out my tutorial on using a Raspberry Pi to program AVR chips.


SinaProg programming software (requires NI LabVIEW 2010 Run-Time Engine.)
Streamlined AVR Doper Eagle files.

Slightly modified version of the 2008_11_27 AVR Doper firmware to bypass the upgrade warning in AVR Studio.

The total cost of the project is about $12.
Parts List:

Atmel ATMEGA8-16PI1
74HC126N Quad Buffer1
12 MHz Crystal HC49/US1
28 pin IC socket1
14 pin IC socket (optional)1
Resistor Carbon Film 68 Ohm 1/4 Watt 10%2
Resistor Carbon Film 270 Ohm 1/4 Watt 10%1
Resistor Carbon Film 1K Ohm 1/4 Watt 10%2
Resistor Carbon Film 10K Ohm 1/4 Watt 10%5
Resistor Carbon Film 2K2 Ohm 1/4 Watt 10%1
Resistor Carbon Film 22K Ohm 1/4 Watt 10%1
Resistor Carbon Film 33K Ohm 1/4 Watt 10%1
Ceramic Radial Capacitor 22pF 50V 5%2
Ceramic Radial Capacitor .1μF 50V 10%2
Electrolytic Radial Capacitor 4.7μF 16V 20%1
3.6 Volt Low Power Zener Diode2
5×2 Pin Gold Straight Header .100"1
2 x 1 Pin Gold Straight Header .100"3
Shunt .100"3
Red LED1
USB Connector1
Single-sided Copper Clad Board 1 oz. 3.5" x 2.125"1
Altoids 50g Tin1