Fab ISP Programmer

Week 3

This week we began learning how to work with pcb's both programming and fabrication. The project itself focused on creating an ISP programmer from a single-layer copper board, soldering some surface-mount components, and then finally programming it to run smoothly.

After wading through various iterations of the documentation for the Modela machine and pcb fabrication process, I finally re-stumbled onto the GUI I'd been searching for from the in-person training session.

Coupled with the fantastic first-person youtube tutorial series from Charles Fracchia and the schematics/png's for Valentin's board it was fairly straight forward to mill out the boards.

Actually, the toughest part of the entire process was just tracking down all the components in the room and making sure my bill of materials was truly accurate and that any substitutions that I had to make (18pf > 22pf and 0.1uf > 100nf) would work.

The soldering itself, while a bit tricky with the surface-mount components, proved to be not terribly hard and went a lot smoother after the first few components and I started to get back into the swing of things.

Lastly for the programming, I thought it would be more of an ordeal than it was but apparently over the past few years, installing avrdude and all the other components has been condensed down to a really nice one-click install package with no dependancies on things like Xcode. Nice!

Overall, the snap-off mechanism Valentin added was really clever and worked like a charm and the only real issue I had with it was just the thickness of the board not being enough to fill the usb slot (which he mentions).