HOW TO – Programming ATtiny13 with USBtinyISP

 Wp-Content Uploads 2009 11 Usbtinyisp Set Up
Lars shows you how to program an ATtiny13 with the Adafruit USBtinyISP

To program the ATtiny13 or other AVR tiny microcontrollers I use the USBtinyISP. It is a diy build programmer, you can buy a package and you only need to solder. The nice thing is that it works with USB and can power the circuit directly. More information about the programmer can be found here: I use Windows Vista for programming. USBtinyISP uses an USB driver to work under Windows. This works good on 32 bit Vista system, but on 64 bit system you need to disable Windows check of unsigned drivers. This can be done by pressing F8 during boot and selecting a boot option at the bottom. This needs to be done every time you want to program the microcontroller. Perhaps a reader knows a solution to that? Please post in the comments. The USBtinyISP is cheap and works great…

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  1. I did a little project using the AT2313 (programming in some form of Basic) a few years ago and made up a parallel port programmer for it (just a couple of resistors if I remember correctly). More recently I’ve played with a couple of Arduinos a bit.

    It seems to me that it would be fairly trivial to program the Arduino to work as an ISP for one of the ATtiny chips using just an ISP header and a couple of wires. The advantages would be reuse of hardware people would likely have to hand anyway and avoiding the need for any special drivers.

    Am I missing something?

  2. I’ve used my USBtiny for several tiny13 and tiny85 projects. The only difference is that I use a SparkFun breakout board to connect the programmer to the breadboard. (pic: It’s handy because the pins are labeled and the header connector insures a good connection. 22GA wire doesn’t always get a secure connection when used in a female header plug.

  3. I have plans to build a “universal” AVR programmer using a universal 40-pin ZIF socket and your USBtinyISP cable. The idea is similar to what Lars has done here, in that the programming header is broken out into individual jumper wires which can be moved to whichever pin is necessary according to the pinout. The pins of the IC will be accessible through female header sockets corresponding to each pin on the ZIF socket. I’ll try to remember to post pictures when I’m done.

  4. The AVR toolchain has been wonky under Snow Leopard. I’ve published a piece on how to get it working. Short answer: use Fink

  5. I got back into electronics as a hobby recently after a decades long hiatus thanks to the AVR microcontrollers, but I have recently put that hobby back on hold until the USBtinyISP x64 Vista/Win7 driver issue is resolved.

  6. The Arduino makes a reasonably good ISP. See

    Art: Sad that you let drivers stand in your way.

  7. Thanks Randall, I wasn’t missing something.

  8. For the tiny series, the AVR Dragon works in something called the “high voltage serial programming” mode – which allows you to use the reset pin as a port pin.

    I just got one from digikey – it also has JTAG and ISP in addition to HVSP and HVPP.

    It works well.

    The other problem is that under Linux, it doesn’t properly detect these usbtiny based programmers without a hub.

    One other thing is I got some pomona clips (DIP and SSOP) and built an ISP to clip adapter, so I can program things which don’t have a voltage problem by just clipping to them.

    I have some of this on my blog, if you want to see – I should have a dragon pic later this weekend.

  9. I just made a little ATTiny dev board with an ISP connection that, strangely enough, works with my AVRISPmkII programmer but not my USBtinyISP. Can’t quite figure out why

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