Robotic Chip Flashing Jig

an excuse to build a robot


I had a project where I needed a custom bootloader on a few hundred DIP AVRs. It takes a few tens of seconds to flash the bootloader, so I could reasonably expect to be done in less than an hour. Instead, I mounted a ZIF socket to a pan/tilt bracket and had myself a tube-to-tube chip programming robot. This took days to get it right.

To slip between the pins of one chip and the next, the zif socket needed some trimming.

hacked zif socket

The AVR-ISP simply plugged into the back, so the script controlling it could handle pretty much any kind of automated testing, and bin the chips accordingly.

The wiring was extremely lazy and notionally reconfigurable. I’m still a fan of zip-ties in strip-board.