Review: AVR ISP Shield Kit for Arduino

AVR ISP Shiled

AVR ISP Shiled

I’ve had the pleasure of using ATtiny85 devices on previous projects like the ATtiny85 Christmas Bauble. I’ve had some ideas for some more projects but distractions have meant quite a long absence from the soldering iron; damn you Skyrim!

One of the things I’d planned to do was to make a shield for programming these devices rather than lashing them up each time on a breadboard. It’s a relatively easy circuit so the shield would not have been too difficult to produce. However, in the mean time I discovered that Phenoptix have produced the AVR ISP Shield Kit for Arduino. A kit of parts including a bespoke PCB for a price lower than I could have created a Veroboard version. Their version allows the programming of a range of similar devices, which my version wouldn’t have supported. I purchased and the kit was speedily delivered and well packaged.

Phenoptix have produced an Instructable to explain construction. This is straight forward for anyone with basic soldering skills. In-fact, this would be an ideal beginners soldering project. One minor difference was that the supplied resistors didn’t match the guide. However, they were of appropriate values for the LEDs and a quick spot of breadboard testing confirmed this.

IMG_4853

Some more guidance could be provided for programming the devices. Their Instuctable hints at a forthcoming guide on programming but wasn’t available at the time of writing. I loaded Phenoptix’s sketch from their guide into the Uno.

There is a guide on their forum (Programming an ATTiny85 with an Arduino Uno) although this does not use their shield during the process, rather it makes use of breadboard, wires and the AVRDUDE product.

IMG_4854

I then referred back to instructions I’d used previously in a post which used High-Low Tech’s Programming ATtiny with Arduino. Using the instructions in this guide had me programming an ATtiny85 using Phenoptix’s sheild very quickly and easily without the need for breadboard & jumper cable. I soon had the standard “I’m Alive!” LED flashing away.

It's Alive

It’s Alive

Removing devices from the sockets needs some care; Phenoptix state they are working on an improved version with ZIF sockets. That would make life easier.

Finally, the software and hardware designs are available under the Creative Commons Share-alike 3.0 and Beerware licences. They can be found on Phenoptix’s GitHub Repo.

Summary

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Speedy delivery
  • Quality PCB and parts
  • Good Instructable construction guide.

Cons:

  • Resistor values didn’t match the contraction guide but didn’t affect the operation of the board.
  • Promised programming instructions would be welcome.
  • A version with a ZIF socket as promised will be a great improvement.

Conclusion

A fantastic little kit which is good quality and great value. Does exactly what it says on the tin. I would happily recommend this kit to anyone to construct provided they’re happy when it comes to programming the devices.

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