How to Make Your Own EEPROM Programmer


Updating and modifying software in electronic products doesn't require expensive equipment. Hobbyists can purchase basic EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) programmer kits which work with a standard Windows PC and program many standard EEPROM devices. These devices are chips that contain software or data that's ready to use when the equipment turns on. For a bit more money, programming modules with software are available that rival professional stand-alone systems. With a PC-based programming system, hobbyists and engineers can update software chips for cars, PC motherboards and other consumer equipment, and load software for projects such as robotics.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows PC
  • Programming module such as Willem PCB50B, Transitronics Pocket Programmer 3 Xeltek SuperPro M or Carl's Electronics CK1707 (kit)
  • Programming software for module used
  • USB or parallel (printer) cable
  • Install the manufacturer-supplied software for the programming module on the PC.

  • Connect the programming module, using the USB or parallel cable.

  • Connect the programming-module power adapter, if one is required.

  • Select the chip type to be programmed in the software.

  • Load the data file to be programmed into the software memory.

  • Install the chip into the regular or ZIF (zero insertion force) socket on the programming module.

  • Initiate chip programming and verification using the software.

Tips & Warnings

  • Select a programming module with a ZIF (zero insertion force) socket -- or add one to a kit module for higher volume programming.
  • Ensure the programming module you select is compatible with all the chip types you're likely to program.
  • Simple kits have some risk. They can program chips and provide a basic verification of the data stored on the chip, often using a PC power source. Attempting to program a bad EEPROM chip could damage the PC.
  • If you select a basic programming module that uses a parallel port connection, ensure that the PC you use has a parallel port built in. The kit will need it for timed data transfer and to provide voltages for programming. Do not use a USB to parallel port converter, since it can't provide enough power to the programmer or the required timing.

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