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Which USB Flash Programmer - as versatile as possible for Atari uses?


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I am starting this thread primarily because I would like to have a USB programmer that will work on the "Ultimate1MB"'s flash EEPROM in order to test out FJC's new BIOS and I did not want to hijack his thread by asking for suggestions there. However, as many different EEPROM chips are used on various Atari mods and cartridges I wonder if anyone could suggest a Programmer that will cover the widest number of hardware possibilities? Obviously the "Ultimate1MB" is currently my focus, but it would also be nice to pick one up that will maybe write the chips used on "SIC", "The!Cart" and as many pertinent others as possible.

 

I have been intending to build a flash-writer for many years now but never got around to it. However it is my understanding you can buy a ready-made one for less than £20 these days on eBay. However I am far from averse to going the DIY route if anyone could suggest a good kit - or even build one totally from discrete components if there is a good circuit plan out there for the purpose.

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I am starting this thread primarily because I would like to have a USB programmer that will work on the "Ultimate1MB"'s flash EEPROM in order to test out FJC's new BIOS and I did not want to hijack his thread by asking for suggestions there. However, as many different EEPROM chips are used on various Atari mods and cartridges I wonder if anyone could suggest a Programmer that will cover the widest number of hardware possibilities? Obviously the "Ultimate1MB" is currently my focus, but it would also be nice to pick one up that will maybe write the chips used on "SIC", "The!Cart" and as many pertinent others as possible.

 

I have been intending to build a flash-writer for many years now but never got around to it. However it is my understanding you can buy a ready-made one for less than £20 these days on eBay. However I am far from averse to going the DIY route if anyone could suggest a good kit - or even build one totally from discrete components if there is a good circuit plan out there for the purpose.

About 15 years ago I built a Willem programmer version 1 (parallel port type), bought the PCB directly from the designer (Willem Kloosterhuis) and built it up myself. The hardware completely consisted of standard off-the-shelf components (some CMOS, transistors and resistors). The handling was quite cumbersome, though. You had to select the type of chip to program by switching a whole array of dipswitches. Software was DOS-only, never could get the Windows version running properly (wouldn't detect the programmer). I should still have the programer in storage somewhere, along with my HiLo All-07, Chiplab and Galep 3 (all parallel port types). Further development and software updates for the Willem programmer are not very likely, as the designer died several years ago. Schematics for this one and later versions are floating on the net.

 

I don't think I'd go the route of homebuilding a eprom programmer these days. You're on your own in terms of support and in the end it will probably cost you as much as buying one of the cheap Chinese TL866CS programmers that are plentiful available on Ebay. These have an USB port and support programming modern chips. I bought one with 8 socket adapters about 6 months ago. Cost was 60-65 Euro, and it works perfectly OK straight out of the box.

 

re-atari

Edited by re-atari
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I bought a Genius 540<?> and it got relegated to the scrap heap. Much of what they say it can do i.e. test memory is just plan untrue. It should be ok from a hardware standpoint. Some suggested problems with why it doesn't work for half the stuff like insufficient programming voltage, so I took it apart to check. Uses 8040/8050 type micro controller with IC type chip darlington transistors and is actually pretty nice => programming algorithms suck. Software is marginal at best on the PC side. It works sort of if you can wade through the typos, misspellings, and Chinglish.

 

It may work on flash memory better then [EPROM, PROM, DRAM, GAL, et al] since the one flash I tested it with worked OK for reading, but don't expect for it to be more then a one trick pony. I also found at least one EPROM programming voltage that was wrong compared to the manufactures data sheet.

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I also recommend getting a TL866CS. I bought one a year ago and IMHO it's one of the better cheap Chinese programmers, you even still get software updates for it.

 

Here's a quick review video of it:

 

A few years ago I bought a Top 2004 programmer and that was a huge fail. The software was buggy and of course after a short while updates only came out for other models. 50 EUR wasted, thank you a lot, never again!

 

so long,

 

Hias

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It sounds like the TL866CS is the way to go. This looks similar to the one you chaps illustrate above:

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TL866CS-USB-Universal-Minipro-Programmer-EEPROM-FLASH-8051-AVR-MCU-GAL-PIC-SPI-L-/161736984370

 

There are various sellers, although I suspect several may well be the same outfit under different names. The prices range between £30-£45 depending if you are willing to wait for one to be delivered from the far-east, which is pretty decent really - especially with the various DIP adapters that come also. Certainly they seem a better bet than putting one together oneself.

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It sounds like the TL866CS is the way to go. This looks similar to the one you chaps illustrate above:

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TL866CS-USB-Universal-Minipro-Programmer-EEPROM-FLASH-8051-AVR-MCU-GAL-PIC-SPI-L-/161736984370

 

There are various sellers, although I suspect several may well be the same outfit under different names. The prices range between £30-£45 depending if you are willing to wait for one to be delivered from the far-east, which is pretty decent really - especially with the various DIP adapters that come also. Certainly they seem a better bet than putting one together oneself.

That's the one we are talking about. I ordered the programmer from another shop, it was shipped from Hong Kong and delivered within 14 days. Paid by credit card, no problems at all.

 

Do check out in advance if you have to pay import taxes and VAT. It's possible the parcel slips through the customs' hands without these extra taxes, but you never know. Somehow I seem to recall that shipments from Hong Kong to the UK are exempt from import tax and VAT. Don't take my word for it, definitely not sure if that really is the case (I'm not in the UK myself).

 

re-atari

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I have some old, several thousand dollar Programmers from back in the day which work well, but you can't beat the TL866 for its price and functionality. It may not do some of the really old parts, but, in this day and age, it does 99.99% of what you need.

 

Highly recommended!

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Damn: this looks good for twenty-seven quid.

It does, and really is. Adapter sockets are quite pricey, though. If you foresee the need for a specific adapter in the future, it´s actually cheaper to get the programmer bundled with a set of these. Set prices vary a lot between the Ebay webshops, so do shop around!

 

re-atari

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That's the one we are talking about. I ordered the programmer from another shop, it was shipped from Hong Kong and delivered within 14 days. Paid by credit card, no problems at all.

 

Do check out in advance if you have to pay import taxes and VAT. It's possible the parcel slips through the customs' hands without these extra taxes, but you never know. Somehow I seem to recall that shipments from Hong Kong to the UK are exempt from import tax and VAT. Don't take my word for it, definitely not sure if that really is the case (I'm not in the UK myself).

 

re-atari

 

That is interesting re-atari! I've had a good few mechanical draughting pencils delivered from the far-east lately as I collect them and some of the particularly desirable models are only available directly from the manufacturer in Japan via HongKong. So far I have not had any import-duty charged. I wonder if that is why?

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That is interesting re-atari! I've had a good few mechanical draughting pencils delivered from the far-east lately as I collect them and some of the particularly desirable models are only available directly from the manufacturer in Japan via HongKong. So far I have not had any import-duty charged. I wonder if that is why?

That might very well be the case. In my country (NL) import tax is due if the goods have a value >22 euro, and as they're at it anyway, customs adds VAT as well. That's probably why my programmer arrived in a package that (magically) declared the value at 22 euro. Chinese webshops used to declare parcels as 'gifts' (which are exempt from import tax and VAT), but customs doesn't fall for that trick anymore.

 

re-atari

Edited by re-atari
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Does anyone know off-hand the adapter type that is required for the "Ultimate1MB" chip?

 

This is the specific unit I sent off for:

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TL866CS-USB-Universal-Programmer-FLASH-8051-AVR-MCU-GAL-PIC-SPI-5-Adapters-/281716201362

 

It has five adapters which will hopefully cover "SIC" and "The!Cart" but most importantly the "Ultimate1MB".

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Ugh... correction to the above as well: I think most Sic!'s don't use a PLCC (mine doesn't), and the flash ROM will slot straight into the programmer.

 

I'm sorry FJC, I don't quite follow you there. The flash ROM on the "SIC!" will slot straight in to the programmer ZIF socket - so its a DIP of some nature?

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Ah, cool!!!

 

I've wanted one of these writers for ever. Well, at least since I bolluxed my PC BIOS while experimenting with a custom setup and had to spend all night swapping the CMOS IC's until I could properly re-flash it using the BIOS socket on another, pre-booted ASUS motherboard. I learned a lot about the supposed fragility of electronic components that night!

 

Did you know you can totally safely yank out the CMOS chip from a running PC booted in to DOS, swap it for a duff one and re-flash the thing in place. And it doesn't care at all! I would have thought the room would be full of 'magic smoke' by the time I had the right combination of flash software, BIOS code and IC...

 

It didn't help I had only one spare power outlet, so had to keep:

01 - Re-flash bad CMOS
02 - switch-off flashing machine
03 - un-plug flashing machine
04 - remove bad CMOS
05 - replace bad CMOS in subject machine
06 - plug-in subject machine
07 - test boot-up
08 - FAIL
09 - plug good CMOS in flashing machine
10 - un-plug subject machine
11 - plug-in flashing machine
12 - boot-up flashing machine to DOS
13 - remove good CMOS from flashing machine
14 - remove bad CMOS from subject machine
15 - slot bad CMOS in to flashing machine
16 - go to step 1

On and on and on.

I was just about pulling my own teeth out by the end of the night when I got it finally sorted. If only I'd had this little 'TLC866CS' number back then!!!

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The only issue with the TL866 (I have one) is the lack of support for a certain class of 16bit EPROMs, namely the 42pins and there's no adapter.

I believe this to be better at that:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/-/271625555691

but it is also almost 3 times the price (the 16bit EPROM adapter alone is around a third of the total cost).

 

For now I am too cheap to buy it, I wanted to buy it to burn my own Jag EPROMs and piggy back on existing PCB I just decided NOT to do it for the time being.

 

I am not sure if other bigger chips cannot be programmed by the TL866, I am referring here to the flash BIOS for Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast, I believe they are 42 pins as well (but not DIP either so they would need yet another adapter).

 

In any case for most 8 bits need you're set (all the way to program 27C801/27C080) and a few 16 bits (27C1024 for example).

 

For the price it is hard to beat and the SW works all the way to 64 bit Win 8.1 (Minipro 5.91 is the last I dared to install).

 

I too bought a Top 853 Programmer just to be constrained to use it on Win XP and with some hack Win 7 but only 32bits .... way to waste 50US$ ... on the bright side it was capable of reading a 27C301 [a non standard EPROM from way back when] that the TL866 could not ... still meager consolation.

 

Anyway the TL866 has been satisfactory for my usage, there's 2 version a CS and an A, the differnce being that one costs more because it has a breakout connector to be able to use fly-wires for ICS programming.

Edited by phoenixdownita
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