Build your own USB-ASP Programmer Clone

Using more ATMEGA based MCU’s in my recent projects, and not using ready-made Arduino boards for any of them, it became necessary to invest in a dedicated ASP programmer to flash the MCU’s. Huge delays on electronics components, with confirmed orders being mysteriously cancelled due to sourcing issues, and the high cost of “original OEM ASP programmers”, send me on a search for a DIY style programmer, like the old “NOPPP” ( NO PARTS PIC Programmer) in the good old days…

Personal computers have changed a lot, and while ATMEGA chips are not PIC’s, I did feel that it could be done. Given the fact that you could also use an Arduino UNO as an ISP, and doing a little more digging, I finally found a very attractive alternative…

Thomas Fischl, on his website,, has an open-source hardware project, that seemed to be exactly what I needed. His device is capable of programming 5v devices, at various speeds, including a super slow one. He has also written firmware for the device, and although the last update was in 2011, It still seems to be working well, or at least as far as I can see…

I did however decide to add my own twist to the design and build in a logic level converter, to be able to program 3.3v devices as well…

The modified schematic is below:

Schematic Page 1
Schematic Page 2

I chose to do my own PCB layout, to incorporate the changes listed earlier, namely the logic level conversion from 5v to 3v, as well as adding a 3.3v LDO voltage regulator to provide 3.3v to the target in case it is required.

PCB Topside
PCB Bottom Side
3D Render of the PCB

The PCB is still in transit from the factory, and thus I will update this article later with pictures of the actual device.

Firmware can be flashed using any ASP programmer, Arduino as ISP as well, but with the caveat that you have to use AVRDude from the command line… More on that in the follow-up post… ( I would like to show actual screenshots of the process, and not theory.. ). The links to the firmware are available on, courtesy of Thomas Fischl, whom I would like to thank for making this open-source hardware project available freely, as well as for writing and maintaining the firmware.

The PCB can be ordered, or the design files downloaded ( a free download ) from my Projects page at PCBWay soon…

This PCB was manufactured at PCBWAY. The Gerber files and BOM, as well as all the schematics, will soon be available as a shared project on their website. If you would like to have PCBWAY manufacture one of your own, designs, or even this particular PCB, you need to do the following…
1) Click on this link
2) Create an account if you have not already got one of your own.
If you use the link above, you will also instantly receive a $5USD coupon, which you can use on your first or any other order later. (Disclaimer: I will earn a small referral fee from PCBWay. This referral fee will not affect the cost of your order, nor will you pay any part thereof.)
3) Once you have gone to their website, and created an account, or login with your existing account,

4) Click on PCB Instant Quote

5) If you do not have any very special requirements for your PCB, click on Quick-order PCB

6) Click on Add Gerber File, and select your Gerber file(s) from your computer. Most of your PCB details will now be automatically selected, leaving you to only select the solder mask and silk-screen colour, as well as to remove the order number or not. You can of course fine-tune everything exactly as you want as well.

7) You can also select whether you want an SMD stencil, or have the board assembled after manufacturing. Please note that the assembly service, as well as the cost of your components, ARE NOT included in the initial quoted price. ( The quote will update depending on what options you select ).

8) When you are happy with the options that you have selected, you can click on the Save to Cart Button. From here on, you can go to the top of the screen, click on Cart, make any payment(s) or use any coupons that you have in your account.

Then just sit back and wait for your new PCB to be delivered to your door via the shipping company that you have selected during checkout.