View Full Version : Recommendations for an inexpensive EPROM programmer?

August 12th, 2011, 11:40 AM
I'd like to get into experimenting with simple 8-bit "from scratch" computer projects and having the ability to burn replacement EPROMs for my Commodore PETs and similar hardware would be useful, so... I'm vaguely in the market for an EPROM programmer. Does anyone have any good suggestions for a relatively "plug and play" solution that can handle a decent selection of 5v-compatible parts. (EPROM/EEPROM/FLASH?) The ability handle useful older/oddball parts like the 2532 would be a bonus, as would compatibility with small microcontrollers.

The price ballpark I'd be hoping for would be around $100 or less, preferably less considering how much use it's likely to get. I've found a number of sites selling parallel-port "Willem" variants for as low as $40, but the somewhat sketchy looking "Generic eCommerce" storefronts aren't really a confidence builder. Has anyone ordered one from a vendor that turned out to be trustworthy and had good luck with it?

August 12th, 2011, 12:08 PM
eBay is a safe(r) bet for Willem programmers, since you'll at least be able to get your money back if something goes wrong. I've got two main programmers, an Intel iUP-201 standalone programmer, which is good for entering small amounts of hex directly into ROM, and a PC-attached programmer that supports a wide variety of 5V EPROM/EEPROMs and interfaces to the PC through an ISA card. That requires having a machine up and running with DOS and ISA slots, but that's not too much of a problem for me. Both were under $50.

Old Thrashbarg
August 12th, 2011, 12:44 PM
I have a Willem PCB 5.0 that I got from eBay seller 'mcu-tools'. It's a bit quirky, but I haven't had any major problems with it. I'm not sure how well those things handle old EPROMs, though... I pretty much only use it for the newer 27CXXX chips, and EEPROMs.

August 12th, 2011, 01:00 PM
Hrm, eBay.

Of course, yeah, I've really been turned off by the sites offering new ones. They appear feature-ful for what they're charging, but when the suggested mode of payment is sending a money order to Thailand...

(I'm also somewhat irked that they all use Windows software, which is "doable" for me, but not ideal.)

I was also looking at this:


and this:


as possible DIY options, but both of them are pretty limited in flexibility. (The latter one is in fact designed to only program 27C801s, but its hardware and software are so simple I was pondering the idea of attempting to rewire it to handle smaller ICs like the 27C64-27C256.)

Maybe it's worth checking out the next local swap meet and see if I find anything promising. :^/

August 12th, 2011, 04:35 PM
Depending on how DIY you want to get, I have a little circuit that reads/writes 5v EEPROMs, composed of a cheap protoboard from radio shack, two sockets, an Atmel MCU, and some wire. I used this when repairing one of my PET 8032s. I have a small program which writes data onto the EEPROM, then reads it back to verify. The ROM contents are included in a header file - I build the project, upload the hex file onto the MCU, then run it once. Voila, EEPROM written. I used this to read the ROMs in the 8032 as well as to write a 28C64 as a replacement. I can provide more details if you're interested.

August 12th, 2011, 04:47 PM
There's a used Xeltek on eBay now, as well as some TOP853 and Genius 540 and 840 units. And a whole host of Willem programmers.

If you're sticking with retro stuff, the Xeltek isn't a bad deal. Heck if you're near Weirdstuff, you can mosey over and have a look at the Xeltek.

August 14th, 2011, 07:42 PM
Anybody familiar with the Pocket Programmer from Transtronics? http://secure.transtronics.com/osc/product_info.php/cPath/55/products_id/621 The price is on the high side ($269.95), but it claims to have good support for both older and newer EPROMS. And the company is located in Lawrence KS.