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Boarduino/USBTinyISP - Kit done, now what? Software?
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Boarduino/USBTinyISP - Kit done, now what? Software?

by Frank843 on Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:17 pm

I have completed the hardware side of the USBTinyISP Kit and Boarduino kit but I have some questions about the software side (running Windows 2000):

1) On the USPTinyISP download page there is a link to a USBTiny500 Compatibility Bridge. What is that? And, do I need it?

2) On the Boarduino Use It page, it says I need to go to Device Manager and change a setting for COM3, but I do not have a USB Serial Port COM3.
Did I miss some software installation or some other setting?

Thanks.
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Re: Boarduino/USBTinyISP - Kit done, now what? Software?

by Entropy on Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:16 pm

Frank843 wrote:I have completed the hardware side of the USBTinyISP Kit and Boarduino kit but I have some questions about the software side (running Windows 2000):

1) On the USPTinyISP download page there is a link to a USBTiny500 Compatibility Bridge. What is that? And, do I need it?

2) On the Boarduino Use It page, it says I need to go to Device Manager and change a setting for COM3, but I do not have a USB Serial Port COM3.
Did I miss some software installation or some other setting?

Thanks.

You don't need the bridge unless you're trying to use AVR programmer software that only speaks the STK500 protocol. If you're using avrdude or anything that calls avrdude (such as the Arduino IDE) you don't need that bridge.

The USB serial port will not always be COM3. The instructions should probably say that the specific COM port the FTDI TTL-232 cable is assigned to will vary from system to system. You should be able to figure out easily which COM port is the correct one in Device Manager if you only have one USB serial device attached to your system.
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Boarduino/USBTinyISP - Kit done, now what? Software?

by Frank843 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:43 pm

You don't need the bridge unless you're trying to use AVR programmer software that only speaks the STK500 protocol. If you're using avrdude or anything that calls avrdude (such as the Arduino IDE) you don't need that bridge

I haven't decided if I am going to use the Arduino IDE or WinAVR. Would there be a problem with either?

The USB serial port will not always be COM3. The instructions should probably say that the specific COM port the FTDI TTL-232 cable is assigned to will vary from system to system. You should be able to figure out easily which COM port is the correct one in Device Manager if you only have one USB serial device attached to your system.


I am running Windows 2000 and I only have one USB device attached to my system - USBTinyISP.

Under PORTS in Device Manager I have :

Communications Port (COM 1)
Communications Port (COM2)
ECP Printer Port (LPT1)

Thats all.

I see a LibUSB - Win32 Devices in Device Manager when I plug my TinyISP in and under that I see USBTinyISP.

Again, I do not see a COM3 or a USBTinyISP COM3 of any kind.

Thanks.
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by darus67 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:19 pm

If you want to use the Auduino software to load sketches onto your Boarduino
using the bootloader, you need a USB to TTL-serial converter like
this
or
this

When you plug either of those in, it will show up as another COM port in your
device mangler.

As for using WinAVR, I have never used it, so I have no advice to offer.
"He's just this guy. You know?"
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Boarduino/USBTinyISP - Kit done, now what? Software?

by Frank843 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 4:28 pm

If you want to use the Auduino software to load sketches onto your Boarduino
using the bootloader, you need a USB to TTL-serial converter like


I thought that was what the USBTinyISP provides. I'm confused.

I was leaning toward WinAVR so.....

Update: At this point I have not installed any software except the drivers. Does the COM3 get installed with one of the software packages as part of the setup? Like maybe WinAVr or Arduino IDE.

Does anyone know? Thanks.
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Re: Boarduino/USBTinyISP - Kit done, now what? Software?

by mtbf0 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 6:34 am

Frank843 wrote:
If you want to use the Auduino software to load sketches onto your Boarduino
using the bootloader, you need a USB to TTL-serial converter like


I thought that was what the USBTinyISP provides. I'm confused.


actually, the usbtiny shows up as a parallel device, so you won't be seeing com anything when you plug it in. avrdude will find it for you, but make sure you have avrdude 5.5.

the nice thing about the ftdi usb ttl-232 is that it gives you an easy way to talk to your project. you can dump debug data over it or modify program parameters without having to tie up a bunch of pins with leds and switches. with the arduino environment, you just click the serial monitor button, no host programming required.

and the nice thing about the arduino environment is that it allows you to be kind of sloppy with your code. no need to worry about forward references and the api allows you to start programming without having to get into the mega168 datasheet. you will need a serial converter of some kind, though, to use the arduino bootloader.

Update: At this point I have not installed any software except the drivers. Does the COM3 get installed with one of the software packages as part of the setup? Like maybe WinAVr or Arduino IDE.

Does anyone know? Thanks.

no usb ttl... no com3.
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Boarduino/USBTinyISP - Kit done, now what? Software?

by Frank843 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:52 pm

mtbf0 - thanks for the detailed response

actually, the usbtiny shows up as a parallel device, so you won't be seeing com anything when you plug it in. avrdude will find it for you, but make sure you have avrdude 5.5.


I was basing my original question on the Boarduino Use It page that shows that the Properties need to be changed for a USBTiny Port (COM3).

IF I don't need to make that change, I'm okay with that. Unfortunately, the Use It page states that the change needs to be made.

I installed WinAVR, which I believe includes AVRDUDE 5.5, yesterday. Is there an easy way for me to determine that my USBTiny is "visible" to the IDE?


...with the arduino environment, you just click the serial monitor button, no host programming required.

I'm still new to this, is the serial monitor button in some software?
I'm confused...

...you will need a serial converter of some kind, though, to use the arduino bootloader.

I have a Boarduino which has the bootloader installed on the Atmel chip. Where do I get a serial converter? And, how do I use/when/why would I use it?

Thanks.
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by schill on Wed Mar 05, 2008 1:49 pm

Frank843:

It looks like you are mixing up two separate sections of the Use It! page. The "Adding USB" and "Arduino Compatability" sections go together. The black cable called "FTDI USB" contains hardware that converts from USB to TTL serial. TTL serial uses +5V and GND to convey serial data (instead of +/-12V that the RS-232 standard uses (although most hardware doesn't do +/-12V these days).

This cable will allow you to use the Arduino IDE to program an Arduino chip - or any AVR having a compatible bootloader installed.

The serial port configuration is talking about this setup. The setup actually shows working with COM3 in one image but then switches to COM5. It's really referring to the same port (the pictures are inconsistent). Which port it is depends on your machine. With the FTDI drivers installed, when you plug the FTDI cable into the computer a new port will show up in the list. This is the port that you want to use. You will configure this port as shown and also set it in the Arduino environment.

The section labeled "Programming" is showing a different way to program the chip. You do not need a programmer like this if you are using the Arduino environment, a chip with a bootloader, and a USB cable.

However, later on this will give you a lot more options in programming and is a good investment. You will need to use something like AVRdude or the AVR studio software from Atmel to use this kind of device to program the chip.

You also need to use this kind of device to program the chip with a bootloader if you don't already have it. All chips sold as Arduino chips already have a compatible bootloader installed.


If you pick up an FTDI USB cable (adafruit sells them), that's all you need to program the Boarduino. They are very convenient cables to have around anyway. Once plugged into the computer, they look like normal serial ports for any software. It's very common to communicate with microcontrollers through serial communications (essentially printing from the controller out the serial port). Even if you use a different programmer, this type of communication is very useful for debugging. And this cable will make it really easy.
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Boarduino/USBTinyISP - Kit done, now what? Software?

by Frank843 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 3:09 pm

Schill - thanks for the detailed explanation, I think I am starting to get the picture.

It sounds like you are advocating using a FTDI convertor cable instead of the USBTinyISP.

In looking at the Use It page again, I noticed that it refers to a FTDI convertor cable (black cable) and using it to program a Boarduino. I also realize that the change to the COM3 port in the Use It page refers to the port that shows up when using the cable. Since I have not purchased the cable, and therefore have none to connect, I am not seeing the COM3 port. Ok....good.

I purchased the USBTinyISP programmer thinking I could use it to program the Boarduino or a raw (no bootloader) Atmel chip. Was I wrong in my assumption?

I purchased the TinyISP because it has both 6 pin and 10 pin connectors (giving me some flexibility).

I also made the assumption that I could use the Arduino IDE to write sketches for the Boarduino, using the TinyISP as the interface.

One other assumption I made was, I assumed that I could use WinAVR to write "C" code for raw Atmel chips, using the TinyISP as the interface. Additionally, I thought I could download the bootloader into some Atmel chips and use the chips in a Boarduino or some other Arduino clone.

Is this correct? I hope my assumption are correct.

Thanks.
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by schill on Wed Mar 05, 2008 5:06 pm

All of your assumptions are correct.

I would suggest getting the FTDI cable. There are many adapters out there that use FTDI chips to convert from USB to serial but the cable is really convenient - I have several. Adafruit has a good deal where you save a few bucks if you get the cable with the Boarduino (an excuse to get another Boarduino if you need one).

You can use the USBTinyISP exactly as you have described, but the cable is easier for Arduinos with the bootloader. Most of the documentation for Arduinos assumes that you will be taking this route so it will make it easier to figure things out. It's very simple compared with (sometimes) getting other programmers to work.

Later on, you can move to doing other things and you will need/want to use the USBTinyISP.

A benefit of using something like the USBTinyISP is that you don't need to waste memory in the chip on the bootloader - you get more room for your programs.

I have a USBTinyISP and both the RS232 and USB versions of the Atmel AVR ISP programmer. They all do the same thing - get programs on to AVR chips without bootloaders. You should be able to use them with your C programs. I haven't used C on AVRs for quite a while (I like the bascomAVR compiler).
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.