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In-system programming board targets Atmel MCUs

Posted: 15 Mar 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:data i/o? imagewriter? architecture? atmel? avr?

Device programming company Data I/O Corp. now has an in-system programming system for use in automated test systems, as well as during production runs. Unlike products designed for programming chips that are mounted on circuit boards, Data I/O's ImageWriter is an open architecture that integrates automated test with manufacturing systems. It supports Atmel's AVR Family (atmega and ATtiny) of flash-equipped microcontrollers (MCUs) mounted on circuit boards, as well as MCUs from ST Microelectronics, Renesas and Microchip Technologies.

In use, a compact programmer can be installed into any test fixture, and programming can take place at in-circuit or functional test, or any point in production. Up to 32 modules can be installed in a given test system.

Programmed across SPI, I?C, low-speed JTAG or RS-232, the ImageWriter module, once installed in a test system, makes contact to a target device (typically using three to five pins) via a bed of nails, an edge connector, a cable and socket, or a flying probe tester. To program a multi-board panel, one module per board fits into a test fixture or onto a test station.

PC-hosted or standalone
The programmer can also be configured to run PC-driven or standalone, where its uses a documented programming command set running Under Windows 2000, Windows ME or Windows XP. However, because manual programming may not be sufficient for automated production lines, the system's open architecture lets the ImageWriter be integrated with your own process control software or ATE (automated test equipment) environment.

Documented commands assimilate device programming into a process at any point in the line, such as during pre-test, during test, or during final assembly.

The ImageWriter module can be controlled directly via an ATE signal, or from any process control software such as National Instruments' LabVIEW, or using VisualBASIC or C++. Programming usually takes a few hours.

When operating standalone, the ImageWriter can store up to 16 programming jobs. With a PC controlled configuration the number of jobs is unlimited.

A twist
An interesting twist is that the design of the ImageWriter programmer itself rests on an Atmel AVR MCU. "It's an example of one technology enabling another," notes David Beecher of Data I/O, designer of the ImageWriter hardware. "We even use an ImageWriter programmer to program the Atmel device in new ImageWriter units in our own production line."

A product datasheet is available from the company's website.

- Alex Mendelsohn


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