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View Full Version : Need advice buying an EPROM programmer



digger
December 7th, 2009, 12:10 PM
Hello fellow forum members,

I've been wanting to purchase an (E)EPROM programmer for a long time now (for various projects), but never got around to it.

But now I thankfully have both the means (and soon after moving also the time and space) for some occasional hobby tinkering, so I'm considering buying one, but I have no idea what brands or models to look for.

My requirements are as follows:


reliable
affordable
compatible with most common EPROM and EEPROM chips (both newer and older)
ZIF socket (I assume these come standard, unless some programmers are catered to masochists :P )
USB interface
Can both read and write chips (I don't know how obvious this requirement is, to be honest... Maybe all programmers can read ROMs... :blush: )
Usable with Linux without any proprietary software or closed-source drivers
Would be nice: usable with Mac OS X


Are there any (E)EPROM programmers out that that meet these requirements, and in what price range would such devices typically go on eBay? And are there also any other relevant factors or features that I haven't mentioned but are also important to take into account?

Thank you so much for your advice. :)

digger
December 7th, 2009, 12:46 PM
Hmmm... I found an article how to build a "open hardware design EEPROM burner for 24-pin and 28-pin 5-volt EEPROMs with Linux support".

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/apps/circuits/EEP-0.2.html

I guess this could possibly be my first next hobby project (after I have set up my workshop in my new apartment) then... :)

But this one is designed around a parallel port... And there are some risks regarding possibly damaging your parallel port if you're not careful. (Of course I could buy a parallel to USB adapter to try it out on...)

But suppose I'm lazy... And I'm looking for one of those convenient pocket-sized (E)EPROM/GAL/PIC USB programmers I see being offered on eBay, do any of you know which brands and models have open protocol specs that are supported under Linux?

I'll continue to Google more on this, but if any of you here have any personal experience with this sort of thing, I would be happy to read about it in your posts below... Thanks. :)

kyeakel
December 7th, 2009, 02:44 PM
I have the Willem programmer offered on e-bay. It seems to work, I say seems because some chips program just fine, others not so much. This leads me to believe that the programmer is working fine, and I just got some bad eproms. It will sure program alot of different devices, and the price was right.

Kipp

arfink
December 7th, 2009, 04:50 PM
I have an old Xeltek Superpro II, now long discontinued, which I use. It's got an ISA card interface, and only runs in DOS, but it didn't cost me anything and I'm fond of keeping a classic DOS PC around anyways. I imagine that something like that would be cheap enough.

EDIT: have not seen any Xeltek units of that vintage anywhere on Ebay. In my experience the cheaper USB models are usually just fine.

NeXT
December 8th, 2009, 07:40 AM
Sorry to hijack but I'm also kinda interested in finding an EPROM/EEPROM burner/reader with a TEXTOOL socket. I have piles of EPROM chips from various places (from old motherboards to a PostScript card I pulled from a printer but no way to reprogram them for my uses. I see numerous programmers on ebay but the prices range from $50 and into the hundreds.

Dutch
December 9th, 2009, 04:52 AM
I use an Andromeda AR-32A. Not exactly cheap, but very verisitile and has a an excellent software package. It's worth a look it you have the means.

-Dutch

digger
December 9th, 2009, 11:42 AM
I use an Andromeda AR-32A. Not exactly cheap, but very verisitile and has a an excellent software package. It's worth a look it you have the means.

-Dutch

Does it require proprietary software?

Because I honestly don't mind spending some more on a good programmer, as long as it supports an open and documented (and if possible somehow standard) interface protocol. I don't want to be dependent on some obscure closed-source Windows-only application to use it.

That's my big concern with many of the programmers I see listed on eBay.

Dutch
December 9th, 2009, 01:55 PM
The AR-32A does require its own software to function. Runs on any flavor of Windos or DOS. The CD it comes on is bootable as well.

http://www.arlabs.com

-Dutch

MikeS
December 9th, 2009, 02:09 PM
Sorry to hijack but I'm also kinda interested in finding an EPROM/EEPROM burner/reader with a TEXTOOL socket. I have piles of EPROM chips from various places (from old motherboards to a PostScript card I pulled from a printer but no way to reprogram them for my uses. I see numerous programmers on ebay but the prices range from $50 and into the hundreds.
If you only want to do standard JEDEC 27xxx types, there are parallel port circuits (and SW) out there that you can build for next to nothing, consisting of not much more than a couple of counter ICs, some passives and a socket for the EPROM (and a PS circuit for >12V types); it ain't rocket science (i.e. many people think it's much more complicated than it is).

digger
December 10th, 2009, 01:18 AM
If you only want to do standard JEDEC 27xxx types, there are parallel port circuits (and SW) out there that you can build for next to nothing, consisting of not much more than a couple of counter ICs, some passives and a socket for the EPROM (and a PS circuit for >12V types); it ain't rocket science (i.e. many people think it's much more complicated than it is).

I'm also beginning to understand that programmers are not that complicated devices, and the process of programming chips is often nothing more than applying the right voltages to the right pins in the right sequence.

By the way, can any of you tell me how difficult it is to read and copy PALs?

Are all programmers also capable of reading the same (E)EPROMs, PALs, GALs, and PICs that they can write to? Or is read-capability not always a given for such devices? I'm asking this, because for a certain task I have in my mind, I may have to clone a PAL chip.

I realize that some of these questions may come off as coming from a complete novice, which might be true, but please be patient with me... :(

Chuck(G)
December 10th, 2009, 10:04 AM
Unfortunately, most PALs (GALs, PEELs...) have "security fuses" that prevent a direct readout if they're blown. Most of the PALs that I've seen in commercial applications have had that fuse blown.

Since PALs aren't that complex internally, you can often look at the circuit that they're in and deduce inputs and outputs and then sequence the inputs and see what comes out. For example, PALs used as address decoders (very common on PC gear) are easy to figure out.

mgatesoglu
December 21st, 2009, 07:53 AM
I have an old Xeltek Superpro II, now long discontinued, which I use. It's got an ISA card interface, and only runs in DOS, but it didn't cost me anything and I'm fond of keeping a classic DOS PC around anyways. I imagine that something like that would be cheap enough.

EDIT: have not seen any Xeltek units of that vintage anywhere on Ebay. In my experience the cheaper USB models are usually just fine.

As long as you don't mind carrying an old computer, having one of those old Xeltek programmers might be still the best option compare to how much you are gonna pay. here are couple i found on Ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Xeltek-SuperPro-580_W0QQitemZ250529277138QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_Def aultDomain_0?hash=item3a54b564d2#ht_700wt_1165

http://cgi.ebay.com/Xeltek-SuperPro-280_W0QQitemZ250546071873QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_Def aultDomain_0?hash=item3a55b5a941#ht_500wt_1182

http://cgi.ebay.com/Xeltek-SuperPro-Z-Universal-Device-Programmer_W0QQitemZ250535966443QQcmdZViewItemQQpt ZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3a551b76eb#ht_1317wt_ 1165

If you use new computers with them, they may create communication errors. You should use one of those old computers. And another note, paralel port to USB port converter won't work for them. I did test it on my SuperPro LX last year, but it didn't work...

I even saw one USB model on ebay which is quite cheap:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Xeltek-SuperPro-280U-Programmer_W0QQitemZ250502054608QQcmdZViewItemQQpt ZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3a531602d0#ht_827wt_1 165

channelmaniac
December 21st, 2009, 08:33 AM
Don't forget to check what OS the older programmers need.

Some won't run on anything that controls the hardware and doesn't allow direct access such as NT, 2K, XP, or Vista. Also, software that works under XP won't necessarily work under Vista thanks to the driver model changes that happened.

You might need an older machine running Win95/98/ME to get it to work.