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Ask Slashdot: Best EEPROM Programmer For a Hobbyists?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the getting-technical dept.

Programming 165

BigSes writes "I had been in the amusement repair industry (video gaming, pinball, jukeboxes, etc) for more than a decade, but have recently taken a new career path. I still greatly enjoy tinkering with all the electronics, and collect many arcade games and pinball machines for my home. I always had access to EEPROM / PROM / PIC / GAL programmers on the job, but never owned one personally. I'm finding it difficult to work within my chosen hobby without one, and ordering pre-programmed chips can be cost prohibitive for some projects. I would love it if some of you professionals or other hobbyists out there could recommend a great programmer that supports a large number of chip formats for me to use. I'd like it to be something USB, more modern than Serial or Parallel port (usually what we had in the old days) and preferably sub-$300, new or used. There are tons of Chinese import types on eBay, but I'd hate to spend $80+ if I am unsure of the quality."

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first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881362)

first post!! =)

Re:first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881406)

Yay! You did it! We're all so happy for you.

Re:first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881440)

Eat my yellow pussy.

Re:first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881466)

Golly, ACs sure grow up fast these days!

Re:first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881788)

Excellent accomplishment!

A DIY solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881432)

Buy an X-Box.

Re:A DIY solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881446)

go back to 'duty' console fagboy.

Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881452)

Isn't this what that arduino crap is about?

Re:Arduino (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881484)

Isn't this what that arduino crap is about?

No.

Re:Arduino (4, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881628)

Came here to say that. The easiest way to program an EPROM today without a legacy programmer would be to put it into a breadboard and use an Arduino.

I used to have a universal programmer like the one he wants, but it ran off an ISA card in a PC, it stopped working when my last 486 PC gave up the ghost.

By coincidence, it was only last week that I found some old spare EPROMS for a custom-built equipment we used to have where I work. Just for curiosity, I wanted to read their content. I wired an Arduino to read them, just a few minutes work.

Soulskilless. (0)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881458)

Dude. At least edit the title.

Re:Soulskilless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881478)

+1

Re:Soulskilless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881502)

Also, put it in another category than "programming". This is about hardware, even if it has the word "programmer" in the title.

Re:Soulskilless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881656)

Yeah the correct title would have been "I can haz EEPROM?"

Re:Soulskilless. (1, Funny)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881748)

Yeah the correct title would have been "I can haz EEPROM?"

It damn well could. [lolcode.com]

Any programmers which connect to a Linux box ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881482)

I have one requirement to add to BigSes's query: Are there programmers which connect to a Linux box, eliminating the requirement for a Windows PC?

Re:Any programmers which connect to a Linux box ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881578)

You can build one yourself: http://outflux.net/unix/software/EPROM/ [outflux.net]

Re:Any programmers which connect to a Linux box ? (1)

lcreech (1491) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882012)

PonyProg

Dont call them Programmers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881490)

Call them EEPROM Software Engineers ;)

Re:Dont call them Programmers (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881730)

Seriously, this is a good point. Since taking up FPGA work, I've learned that "programming" simply means putting a bitstream on a chip, and the actual writing of the code should have a different name, such as "design" or "engineering". I also think it is much more geeky to say "I design microchips" than saying you program (give instructions to) chips that somebody else designed.

On a side note, some older network cards have sockets for boot EEPROMs, and you can use them to program compatible chips for any purpose, using flashrom from the coreboot project. However, they seem to have a limited number of address lines, so the full capacity of the chips is not exposed.

Re:Dont call them Programmers (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881834)

Seriously, this is a good point. Since taking up FPGA work, I've learned that "programming" simply means putting a bitstream on a chip, and the actual writing of the code should have a different name, such as "design" or "engineering".

Well, another way to make a distinction, how about calling putting a bitstream on a chip "flashing" and writing code "programming"?

I also think it is much more geeky to say "I design microchips" than saying you program (give instructions to) chips that somebody else designed.

But that sounds more like doing the hardware design of the chip.

Re:Dont call them Programmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881948)

Well, another way to make a distinction, how about calling putting a bitstream on a chip "flashing" and writing code "programming"?

You can do that but that would be incorrect for PROM, EPROM, EEPROM and FRAM devices.
Programming is also the correct term for configuration your VCR to record tv-shows at the correct time, are you sure that you would like to call writing software something that can be confused with that?

Re:Dont call them Programmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37882308)

Are you so unfulfilled in your life that you care?

Re:Dont call them Programmers (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882002)

Well, another way to make a distinction, how about calling putting a bitstream on a chip "flashing" and writing code "programming"?

to explain what flash REALLY is; you historically had to erase ('flash') the ram in 1 step and then write to it as a whole unit (sector) at a time.

other ram is not flash and so you don't strictly 'flash' every form of NVRAM.

flash is generally for program but eeprom is more for random access read/write data, saved between reboots.

Re:Dont call them Programmers (1)

Scratch-O-Matic (245992) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883240)

I vote for "filling." And the code that's ready to be put in is called "the fill. "

Cheap Chinese ones are fine (4, Interesting)

raburton (1281780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881498)

I bought one several years ago (Top2048, don't think it's a current model now). Forget what it cost but probably in the region of 100 USD. Build quiality is good. Software isn't great or well translated, but at the end of the day it does what it's supposed to. In terms of writing eproms I've never had any problems with it. Ultimately writing an eprom isn't a particularly difficult concept so I see no reason a Chinese factory can't mass produce a cheap a programmer. Or put another way, why on earth do branded ones from the West cost so much money? Richard.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881682)

I will second this. I ordered the cheapest GAL programmer I could find off eBay and it arrived and worked fine. I spent no where near 80. A USB to rs-242 converter will add to the cost, but if you find a good deal on serial it is no a big deal.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884132)

I bought a USB/Serial adaptor on eBay for less than $4 shipped a while ago.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881718)

the 'western' ones invented the tech and did all the hard work and research.

the chinese come in, swoop down, copy things and do it for slave labor wages.

duh, how can they copy our tech and yet with no overhead, sell for less?

(sheesh).

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882030)

That's not quite true. Chinese companies over the past 10 years have been carving out a new market category for themselves -- things that are dirt cheap due to sheer unfathomable economy of scale and large-scale ASIC design. When your domestic economy *alone* has more than a billion consumers who, due to language, aren't terribly thrilled by foreign (ie, English-oriented) alternatives to begin with, you can hardly help but become very good at cranking out millions of products. Look at phones. Companies like Huawei have more real customers within 500 miles than Motorola and Nokia would have if they owned 100% of their respective (American & European) markets in their entirety.

Yes, Chinese companies copy. So did Japanese companies. So did American companies, for that matter (back in the 1800s, European nations were perpetually up in arms about cheaply copied goods from America flooding their markets). The point is, if you focus on the copying too much, you're likely to miss the REAL long-term threat presented by Chinese companies to America and Europe -- their unbelievable potential for vertical integration and unbelievable economy of scale that will keep them competitive LONG after workers in Chongqing are making wages comparable to workers in Tennessee.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882290)

Except that even in China Chinese goods have a reputation for being crap. Most of them would much rather buy American when they can afford it, rather than having to worry about safety and quality issues.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882852)

> Except that even in China Chinese goods have a reputation for being crap

So were the Japanese cars in the 90s, and then Korean cars. It's a learning process.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882904)

I have car dealer friends who have said that the Chinese cars now available in Australia (from Great Wall, Cherry and Geely) will likely never improve in quality in the way the Korean and Japanese cars did because the chinese cars are just made up of bits of other cars technology licensed, stolen, copied or otherwise obtained rather than being a whole coherent car.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883566)

Yeah maybe you have a point. It's like the USSR where the investment in R&D was mostly related to finding ways to copy western technology. I don't know if this is a side-effect of Communism or if it's culture-related.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (2, Interesting)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884204)

What you've all ignored is that China is exploding into cutting edge technology, cranking out Phds like they're going out of style. Last year they produced more international patents than America. They're building both a huge industrial manufacturing infrastructure as well as a huge and growing intellectual leadership. If they couldn't produce quality work, then the bulk of American and European industry wouldn't be using them to manufacture their products, no matter how cheaply they can produce (can you say Apple, Gucci???)

Face it kids, they are perfectly lined up on a trajectory to take a leadership role in global production through the rest of this century. They will eclipse the American economy some time in the middle of this decade. They are already the third largest global consumer of luxury items. You better believe that businesses everywhere are going to pander to a market with a billion and a half buyers.

As stupid as their government is, it has the advantage of moving in a monolithic manner. So once a decision if made, the nation marches in lockstep. Makes for a very impressive ability to turn the nation on a dime. The U.S. can't do that. We have other strengths, some huge, we just don't have the ability to act like that except maybe in the face of a national crisis.

Don't assume we have anything on the Chinese, we need to put our game faces on, and play full out, because these guys are hungry and they want our lunch really bad.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883984)

So were the Japanese cars in the 90s

I agree that in the 70s Japanese cars were regarded as crap, but I seem to remember then steadily getting better though the 80s and in the late 90s they became a real force to be reckoned with in the American marketplace.

LK

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884192)

Perception lags behind reality. Especially when it is combined with patriotic bias.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1, Interesting)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882410)

A factor of 3 in population simply does not make "sheer unfathomable economy of scale". Our biggest disadvantage is that we have a large population of layabouts, lawyers, and losers. Their two biggest advantages are they're smarter than everyone else (except for a small population of Jews [ just fact, not commentary ] ) and being only a generation away from universal government-imposed poverty means they're working quite hard.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884152)

You overestimate how trivial *PROM/PIC/AVR etc programmers are. I designed and built one in an afternoon.

Re:Cheap Chinese ones are fine (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883710)

Concur with parent, cheap works, whatever I have used in the past (half a dozen varieties, at least) has always "just worked" apparently it's not too hard to do.

On the flipside, if I were designing a project, I'd lean toward Flash over EEPROM, or, what I have done a few times, a RAM over PROM solution (bootstrap in the ROM, but load the dev code to RAM for testing, when the code matures, drop it into the ROM (one-time programmable chips are usually 1/10th the cost of a "windowed" part, or less) and leave the hook in to be able to load new test code up into RAM for further development.

It's an obsolete technology (2, Informative)

tftp (111690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881508)

Very few people need EEPROM programmers these days. You, with your restoration projects, are one of few exceptions.

I very much doubt that there is a modern design that can reliably do what you need. The problem is not in building the thing but in testing it on chips that don't exist today outside of dusty old boards.

Your best bet is to buy an old programmer. I'd think many companies are junking this equipment left and right, so you should be able to find it in surplus stores, flea markets, on the Internet, etc. The key part is that it must be old today - and from the same century as the ICs that you are programming with it.

Re:It's an obsolete technology (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884216)

I very much doubt that there is a modern design that can reliably do what you need.

It's trivial to program EEPROMS. Finding an EEPROM programmer that can't reliably program EEPROMS would be like finding a coaster that can't reliably stop a coffee ring. And guess what? Flash is just EEPROM that you can't erase a byte at a time, so the technology isn't obsolete yet.

Second hand Dataman (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881518)

We use Dataman programmers at work, http://www.dataman.com/Products.aspx i would try and pic up and old parallel port one (new ones are usb) on ebay or second hand sites.

Get a good adapter set (3, Informative)

BennyB2k4 (799512) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881530)

I've used a GQ-4X Willem Programmer with good success. The trick is to get a good set of adapters, so you have the flexibility to cover many packages. PSOP, TSOP, etc. I've even found one that lets me do a serial SOIP8 EEPROM while it is still on the board-- very handy to not need the remove&resolder.

Re:Get a good adapter set (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882724)

I'll second the Willem programmers; the software is free (public domain) and the boards are small, about 3x4 inches, and have sockets for FPGA, PLCC, DIP, etc. EPROMS or EEPROMS. They sell for around $100.00 last time I checked. I borrowed one from a buddy for about a year (good friend!) and liked it very much. I'm now in the market for a programmer myself and unless I find something better, I'm getting a Willem.

Re:Get a good adapter set (1)

stangbat (690193) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883098)

I have one too and it has served me well. I repair pinball machines so the EPROMs I need to program usually don't require an adapter or anything special. I've also had good support from their forum. Looks like mcumall.com, which sells the GQ-4x forgot to renew their domain registration. Oops!

Don't give up on serial (5, Informative)

ninjackn (1424235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881536)

Don't give up on the serial port. There are a large number of great USB to serial port adapters on the market and they're not too expensive either. Even if you really wanted to give up on the serial port the more modern cheaper usb chip programmers are just the old serial programmers with a FTDI chip to convert serial to usb. Even the super popular arduino uses the mentioned method. All that being said take a look at sparkfun [sparkfun.com] .

With regret I must say to give up on the parallel port. The older true parallel ports with ECP/EPP were amazing for hobbyist hackers. Throw in a few buffers and bit bang anything you could ever need out of it. Stay away from those "usb to parallel port" adapters as they are not the gloried parallel port from the olden days and are just ports meant for older printers.

Re:Don't give up on serial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881592)

+1

Re:Don't give up on serial (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881630)

Depending on what computer the poster is using, or willing to use for EEPROM work, you don't necessarily have to count parallel out, either.

There are, to my knowledge, no USB->Parallel converters that are the genuine article, rather than a somewhat dodgy USB Printer class horror, and the degree to which today's "USB->Serial" converters succeed in fooling hardware or software expecting a real serial port can be pretty variable(though much better than with parallel)

However, if your computer of choice has a PCI, PCIe, PCMCIA, or Expressport slot available, you can get a good-honest-old-fashioned serial, parallel, or combo card for comparatively little money(more than the USB dongles; but easily cheap enough to be worth it if it means getting a good deal on a programmer with an "outdated" interface)...

Re:Don't give up on serial (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881652)

(Y) (This is supposedly a thumbs-up in some messaging systems, but to me it looks like a female form, which is likewise a positive statement.)

Re:Don't give up on serial (3, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881882)

There are a large number of great USB to serial port adapters on the market

FTFY

Most USB to serial port adaptors have lower voltages than serial ports traditionally had and afaict ALL of them have much higher latencies than traditional serial ports. These issues will cause some equipment not to work. The first issue can be solved by building your own adaptor with custom level shift circuitry but there is really nothing you can do about the second issue.

No reason to give up on the classic ports (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37882808)

They are still around and not going anywhere: there are native pci express controller chips, with all modes supported.

Also many motherboards still come with bona fide serial and parallel ports via 8/25 pin sockets, all you need is the ribbon cable and backplate. Oddly enough you tend to find them on the cheaper models more than the whizbang tweaker boards.

If it ain't broke...

Re:No reason to give up on the classic ports (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883932)

RS-232 is still found on many boards, its the parallel port header thats tough to find. What shocked me is Gigabyte sells a low end Z68 board (the GA-Z68A-D3-B3) that has both serial AND parallel ports on the rear panel right next to the USB 3.0 ports!

Re:Don't give up on serial (1)

luder (923306) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883128)

There are a large number of great USB to serial port adapters on the market and they're not too expensive either.

Don't waste your money on cheap USB to serial port adapters from ebay. I bought one really cheap and it gave me nothing but trouble. They even sent a free replacement, but nothing would work with it. I heard good things about FTDI adapters, next time I consider buying one that will be my choice.

Re:Don't give up on serial (1)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883350)

The new Arduino Uno dispenses with the FTDI chip and instead uses another Atmel microcontroller (an 8u2 I think) to do the USB to serial conversion. Apparently this is faster to copy programs to the arduino than the FTDI version and also gives the user the option to use custom firmware on the USB-serial converter, so the arduino can identify itself to the host as something other than a generic serial device.

When programming picaxes with a USB-serial converter, the maker of the picaxe recommends converters that use the Prolific PL2303 chipset. It seems that some converters don't properly emulate the serial "BREAK" command which some legacy devices rely on. I'm not sure which devices require this, but it's something to look into if the emulated serial port isn't behaving as expected. I still managed to pick up a PL2303-based converter on ebay for under ten bucks.

What do you want out of the device? (2, Informative)

thylordroot (1794396) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881550)

In order to address the kind of ROM programmer you need, it's helpful to know what you're looking for. Are you looking for a universal programmer, or are you willing to buy a ROM programmer that might only cover a certain class of PROMs? If you can peg down your requirements, that could potentially open a lot of opportunities up to you that you might not normally consider. It might even be possible to leverage the work of other hobbyists and roll your own, perhaps something like this [sourceforge.net] . You might also be able to get a good deal on such a device through surplus.

I have a Xeltek Superpro universal programmer that I bought a few years ago for about $500. (I know, not quite within your $300 upper bound) It was an alright investment, I guess, but I haven't really used it much. At the time I bought it, it appeared that there were only Windows drivers for it, and I didn't really have the time to write my own drivers for it at that point. The few times I did use it, however, it was a decent device. If you could find something like that within your price range, it might be worth your consideration.

Re:What do you want out of the device? (1)

emt377 (610337) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883644)

The Xelteks are quite okay - and more importantly, the company is still there to support them. I see a SuperPro 280U on eBay for $250 right now for instance... a $200-$300 budget for a USB device should be more than feasible. It's really the way to go IMO. I used to love Needham's gear, but they went out of business some time ago and I wouldn't recommend buying a programmer with spotty software support. The USB devices generally work under VMware on OS X as well.

Build one. They're simple. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881572)

A UV toothbrush sterilizer will work for erasing.

Re:Build one. They're simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881672)

EEPROM stands for Electrically Erasable Programmable ROM, therefore there is no need for an UV eraser.

Re:Build one. They're simple. (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881800)

If you're talking about UV, you're talking about EPROM, not EEPROM. Big difference.

Either way, PROM programmers are prevalent and you can build them yourself especially if your PROM (like some PIC and most modern all-in-one boards) comes with a serial port. Some resistors and capacitors, sometimes a single chip will get you a serial-port PIC programmer. For USB-serial I like the KeySpan USA19HS since they have Windows, Mac and Linux support and are not too picky about the signals.

It really depends on what type of boards you want to program. These days, an Arduino or similar system will do a LOT of things with 1 system that you used to have a range of different micro controllers for (I used to have a few PIC's, 8051, ARM boards, AVR). Unless you're embedding in a specific cost you don't need to do that anymore.

Re:Build one. They're simple. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882424)

> you're talking about UV, you're talking about EPROM

Yes. So is the OP.

> your PROM (like some PIC and most modern all-in-one boards)

Those don't use PROMs. PROMs (Programmable Read Only Memory) were one-time-programmable via fusible links and are even more obsolete the EPROMs (Erasable Progammable Read Onl;y Memories). I used both in their heyday.

> It really depends on what type of boards you want to program.

He wants to burn new EPROMs for old games.

He could also build an EPROM emulator.

Re:Build one. They're simple. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882458)

> Yes. So is the OP.

I'm wrong: he wrote EEPROM. However, he also mentions PROMs, so it isn't entirely clear what he means.

Re:Build one. They're simple. (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882774)

Yes. So is the OP.

Did you bother to read the title?

Ask Slashdot: Best EEPROM Programmer For a Hobbyists?

Re:Build one. They're simple. (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882990)

I see no reason someone couldn't invent a near-universal PROM programmer (and reader) using a suitable microcontroler. Give it a USB port so you can talk to it and send data to it and a large socket or header with lots of pins. Wire the pins in the header/socket up to cover all the possible pins the roms you want to read/write are using have (e.g. address lines, control lines, data lines, different power voltages etc) and then for each ROM type you want to read, build an adapter with the right chip socket and some wires to connect the chip socket pins to the right pins on the header/socket.

True-USB GQ-4X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881610)

Might take a look at the True-USB GQ-4X for around $100. I purchased the GQ-2X model some time ago and have been pretty pleased. I use it to program 28F/29F series flash chips as well as 8-bit Atmel AVR chips. According to the the GQ-4X page, it supports Altera and Xilinx CPLD programming as well as a ton of other devices. For PIC programming I bought a Pickit3 (~$45) due to the relatively low price and debugging support.

Spark Fun (4, Informative)

Phibz (254992) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881616)

Spark Fun has some that are reasonably priced

http://www.sparkfun.com/categories/1

Re:Spark Fun (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882954)

nothing on sparkfun's site is reasonably priced, its the same chi-co shit for more money, go to ebay

Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881620)

Just wanted to say - Amusement repair industry. That sounds like a fun job!

I love arduino (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881634)

The arduino language is very similar to C & Java, making it very easy for people who are familiar with those languages.

& the other thing is that arduino boards are super cheap & easy to start with.

Re:I love arduino (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881728)

The arduino language is very similar to C

are you one of those people who, when your modem is hung, say 'the internet is down' ?

there is no arduino 'language'. its C and C++. same old GCC based C, in fact.

arduino is a set of api's (a very thin layer, btw) and some chosen hardware along with standard pin mappings. that's all arduino is (disc: I work on arduino stuff pretty much fulltime, now).

Elnec (1)

solidraven (1633185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881638)

I've been using Elnec programmers the past few years. Works great, software isn't bad either. You can often find them on eBay for less than $100. They also have a few programmers specifically for EEPROMs that are a lot cheaper.

Microchip PicKit is ~$50 (1)

canowhoopass.com (197454) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881640)

If you want to get back into Microchip PIC programming, the PicKit 3 [microchip.com] is USB and supports programming and in-circuit debugging of a large range of their chips. If can be bought for around $50. Many of their PIC's are low-cost and come in hobbyist friendly DIP packages.

Why are you asking here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881692)

Ask the MAME/MESS people.

Just search on eBay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881780)

Seriously.

Willem GQ-4X USB (1)

johnthorensen (539527) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881820)

As another poster mentioned, these are hard to beat. Lots and lots of adapters available, decent software, USB, fast, process just about anything. Mine ran me about $125.

Atmel ATMega fan here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881894)

A serial programmer is easy to solder up, plans are just a google away, code is straightforward C, the Linux gcc toolchain is easy to get up and running and there is a ton of help available out on AVR Freaks.

Often still serial (4, Informative)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881898)

While many think of serial as a throwback to the older ages, many of these programmers are still serial but simply feature an onboard ft232 or similar USB->USART interface. They act no differently then buying a cheap USB->Serial dongle and then working with a serial device.

There are a few native USB options but you'll find these at a higher expense.

As for Chinese quality, you can pretty much guarantee that regardless if you buy a $10 programmer or a $200 programmer it's going to be made in China. My experience with other programmers like those for AVR and PIC is the "Chinese inport types" can often be as good as the original manufacturer's programmer without the ludicrous markup. For the most part a programmer is nothing more than an interface that gets data from the computer, does a few simply electrical things to enable programming mode on a chip, and then spits out data in a format required. Total bill of materials is often sub $20.

Which reminds me, if you DIY inclined with electronics maybe build your own programmer? There's tons of schematics on the net for this and it will be as cheap as the Chinese import option except that you know exactly what you're getting. Failing that SparkFun is a company that caters quite well for hobby engineers and I'd be surprised if you can't find what you need there.

Re:Often still serial (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882976)

"Failing that SparkFun is a company that caters quite well for hobby engineers"

no they are not, they are a company who preys on noobs selling a 25 cent chip on a breakout board instead of selling the dip version for 5 bucks, or a 40$ knock off iron for the price of a hakko.

Re:Often still serial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884136)

Sort of like the scam artist Bre Pettis and his overpriced knock off of the Rep Rap? Oh no, excuse me, 3D printing will revolutionize the world. Especially when powered by nickel fusion reactors....

Pay cash when you buy it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37881922)

There are various groups that think all hardware tinkerers are pirates. When you buy something like this its good to pay for it with cash so you don't end up being sued later.

For example see the problems people got into buying similar equipment in the past: http://www.directvdefense.org/newsarch.shtml [directvdefense.org]

TopMAX (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881980)

I still have one, they are obsolete today! or so this says [eetools.com] but it is a very reliable programmer, if you can get one, it's definitely going to be used and so it should be cheap maybe 50 bucks or so.

Re:TopMAX (1)

pcolson (1894348) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884268)

The Topmax is a great choice as it will burn the PROMs that were used on arcade boards as well. I haven't seen any selling cheap though. The Topmax 2 has replaced it, but is considerably more than the stated budget. I use the GQ-4x from MCUMall, and it works great for the intended application. It will not burn the PROMs that you may need (like 82sXXX), but it will burn most of what you will need. You may need to use a power supply for some of the 2764s, but a lot of them will burn just off of USB power. I have never had any problems burning 2716, 2532, or 2732. Even the larger ones seem to always burn fine, but some of the 2764s just require more voltage. I also have a Data I/O 29b to use for the PROMS and any others not covered by the GQ4x (although I haven't run across any except for the PROMS). These are big and slow, but will burn just about anything from that era. They can be found for around $100 on eBay. If budget wasn't a concern, I would definitely suggest the Topmax 2, but the GQ-4x and 29b will get you the same result a lot cheaper. If you don't keep a supply of PROMs, It is probably better to just use the GQ-4x, and use hobbyroms.com for the PROMs when needed.

EzoFlash (1)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882018)

If you're willing to build it yourself, and your computer has a parallel port, there are schematics available for a programmer called EzoFlash [ezoflash.com] . The website has a list [ezoflash.com] of flash modules that are known to work with it.

How is this even a story? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37882040)

Quality posts are down huh ?

I've had good results with Batronix... (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882048)

I have their "Batupo" model that I use for EPROMS in my work and have found it very easy to use and it works well. The only gripe I've got is that their software is Windows only and uses .NET, but other than that they're solid. See http://www.batronix.com/shop/programmer/eprom-programmer.html [batronix.com]

GQ-4x USB EEPROM programmer works well (1)

x_man (63452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882050)

I purchased a GQ-4x USB EEPROM programmer a few years ago and it has worked very well. It's basically a Willem programmer, supports a lot of different programmable devices from old 80s EEPROMs to the newer pics. I primarily use it for programming custom 2732s, 2764s and 27128s for vintage PC stuff (Apple IIs, Kaypros, etc.). The software is decent and has a large database, although make sure you set the speed to the slowest possible setting and plug in an AC wall adapter (not included) if you want a good burn. It works with USB and all Windows versions. Sadly, no OSX and don't try to run it through VMWare or Parallels.

I also recommend you get a UV eraser while you're at it.

Arduino, built for hobbyist (1)

widgetaah (2496396) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882062)

I have used these open-source hardware boards for quite some time in a university setting.
littlebirdelectronics.com/collections/arduino [littlebird...ronics.com]

They are USB and programmed with the wiring and/or processing software (open-source, multi-platform).
wiring.org.co/download [wiring.org.co] processing.org [processing.org]

They are cheap, robust and easy to program.

Re:Arduino, built for hobbyist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37882298)

On the http://hackaday.com/ website there is lot of examples of what can be done with an Arduino.

Corollary question: UV eraser? (1)

Curlsman (1041022) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882300)

I've got some old hardware with UV erasable EPROMS, and a cheap programer, but the erasers seem to be absurdly expensive or cheap in the worst sense. Any pointers?

Re:Corollary question: UV eraser? (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882886)

You're either going to find $80-$150 ones with 1 UV tube that will erase about 4-5 parts at at time, or $500 UVP ones that have timers and do 20 or more parts at a time. That's about it.

Wellon VP-290 $159 (1)

DRMShill (1157993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882328)

I use this one at work: http://www.kanda.com/products/Wellon/VP-290.html [kanda.com] . I've never had a problem with it. The nice thing is that it runs off USB power. Good luck.

Atmel SDK (0)

RecycledElectrons (695206) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882338)

Forget the EEPROM. The concept of programming a ROM seperately from a chip is so 1970's.

Get a programmer that programs chips with on-chip flash.

I'm biased in favor of Atmel's AVR architecture. http://www.avrbeginners.net/ [avrbeginners.net] http://www.avrfreaks.net./ [www.avrfreaks.net]

You need to decide: will you go with dated (but doable) through-hole technology, or will you go surface mount (SMT) which is more modern, but more difficult to solder. That will impact what kind of programmer you need. Atmel AVRs can be programmed in-curcuit with a cheap dongle.

I don't always design in-circuit programming, debugging, and emulation into my circuits, so I keep a few of Atmel's AVR boards around. The STK500 is awesome: http://www.atmel.com/dyn/products/tools_card.asp?tool_id=2735 [atmel.com]

$82.16 at Digikey: http://search.digikey.com/us/en/cat/programmers-development-systems/general-embedded-dev-boards-and-kits-mcu-dsp-fpga-cpld/2621773?k=stk500 [digikey.com]

You can get samples of the AVR Microcontrollers from Atmel's distributors, or they are available at many resellers, including DigiKey. Search for "atmega" and limt yourself to DIP packages.

Re:Atmel SDK (3, Informative)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#37882918)

Did you even read his entire post? He WANTS to do 1970's type EEPROMs or, actually, I suspect UV erasable EPROMs. All you people who responded "Use an Arduino!" or "Use a PIC" or whatever the hell you are recommending, completely missed the point - he wants an inexpensive, modern programmer that does OLD EPROMs or EEPROMs. Sheesh.

galep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883600)

The only linux compatible universal device flasher I know is the galep, we have one at work and its the best I have used. I am still saving money to buy one for my home workshop. At home I have a top2049 which I have been using open source s/w called toprammer on Linux, however the device support is limited I wish I had the knowledge to support this open source project to add more devices.

Chinese != Cheap crap. (Not always, anyway) (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883720)

I had similar needs, and got one of those Chinese import USB-based programmers. I don't know if it does GALs, but it does EEPROMs just fine.

It's a GQ-4X from MCUmall. Actually, I think I got it from MCUmall's eBay store because of some discount or cashback or something, but I digress.

Also check out the products from pemicro.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883896)

Also check out the products from pemicro.com, they have all sorts of EEPROM programmers at various price points, from hobbiests to pro.

Pocket Programmer from Xtronics (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883920)

I use this [transtronics.com] programmer for all my EEPROM programming. It supports something like 625 devices (including PICs).

"A" hobbyists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883988)

Does no one check basic grammar? At least it wasn't hobbiests. I'd have to kill someone.

PicAxe (0)

AcerbusNoir (1257586) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884104)

Check out the picaxe line of microcontrollers. Super easy to learn and cheap.
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