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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