Arduino Nano ISP Programmer

If you follow me on Twitter or pay any kind of attention to this blog, you’ll know that I’ve recently been building a variety of DIY music tech gadgets. At the heart of a whole bunch of these is the Arduino programmable microcontroller.


I currently have four or five projects on the go that make use of one of these brilliant Nano boards in one way or another. However, I’d much rather use the Arduino Nano as a bread-boarding and development tool, and transfer the finished code to an ATMega328P chip for the finished piece of work.

Conveniently, you can use a Nano as a programmer for burning a bootloader and your code onto a virgin ATMega. I found this excellent blog post by Martyn Currey that lays out how to go about this really clearly and concisely.

But… I’m lazy and I get bored easily. I got thoroughly dissatisfied with setting this up on a breadboard after just the second time. So I’ve committed a Nano to the task of programming ATMega chips and built a board.


So, now I can bang out chips without having to mess around setting up the programmer, and spend my precious breadboard time on more interesting things.

All the docs for this build are below: schematic, BOM, stripboard layout (+ flipped for cutting tracks), the hacked version of the ISP code that I use, and a test sketch that makes the ATMega blink LED1. Awesome, if I say so myself.

If I’d thought of it sooner I would have used a ZIF (zero insertion force) socket for the ATMega rather than a regular 28-pin DIL socket, but it’ll be no hassle to change that later.


Arduino ISP Programmer Schematic

Stripboard layout

Arduino ISP Programmer Board

Flipped stripboard layout

Arduino ISP Programmer Board Flipped

Arduino ISP sketch

Blink test sketch


Update, 27th May 2017

So, yes – I replaced the IC socket with a ZIF socket. Much better, I can now put chips in and out of this thing as much as I like without worrying about the state of the pins or wear on the socket. I’d definitely recommend doing this from the outset if you’re building one of these for yourself. The board layout requires no modification if you use a narrow ZIF socket.


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