The ATtiny45 and 85 are a couple of really cool little MCUs but did you know you can program them in Arduino? That’s right, now you can shrink your Arduino projects down to “tiny size” by moving your code straight over to these small but capable ICs. The standard method for programming the ATtiny ICs involves a breadboard, lots of jumper wires and a hardware programmer, but David Mellis over at MIT Media Lab has simplified the process by laying out this handy USB programmer.
The Tiny AVR Programmer plugs directly into your USB port and provides a programming socket for the ATTiny45 and 85. Just slot an ATtiny with a DIP footprint into the socket, plug the programmer into your USB port and start up the Arduino IDE. After installing the proper board definitions, you simply program it the same way you would any other Arduino board. The programmer even breaks out the IC pins to female headers so you can easily prototype around the ATtiny without pulling and plugging it over and over. There are two ISP headers that have also been broken out so you can use the programmer of solder in a 6-pin header for other AVR microcontrollers!
Note: You’ll need to install the USBTinyISP drivers if you don’t have them yet, you can find them in the documents tab!
If you are using another AVRDude programming software, other than Arduino, you may need to name the Tiny AVR Programmer. One suggested name is “PROGRAMMER = -c usbtiny”.
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If you are using Windows 8, you need to disable the driver enforcement => https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/disabling-driver-signature-on-windows-8. The tutorial talks about it.
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Skill Level: Noob - Some basic soldering is required, but it is limited to a just a few pins, basic through-hole soldering, and couple (if any) polarized components. A basic soldering iron is all you should need.
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Skill Level: Rookie - You will need a better fundamental understand of what code is, and how it works. You will be using beginner-level software and development tools like Arduino. You will be dealing directly with code, but numerous examples and libraries are available. Sensors or shields will communicate with serial or TTL.
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Based on 76 ratings:
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This is a very handy programmer. Works great for general ISP programming as well. One drawback on the design are the female header pins for prototyping. They are of the machined type headers and components or wires do not hold very well in them. So they are mostly useless for prototyping. They should have been female header like they use on the Arduino boards.
Hi, Thanks for the feedback. I would like to see this revised to run standard female headers as well. I will share your feedback with the engineers for the next time this gets a revision. Thank you
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To Member #6938: use the links to the driver on the product page, not the hookup guide (they are different for 64 bit). If that still doesn’t work, try this link (it worked for me): https://mightyohm.com/blog/2010/09/fixed-usbtinyisp-drivers-for-64-bit-windows-7/
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This tool just works!! One caveat I found relative to I2c: If you leave the ATTiny85 plugged into the board while trying to debug I2C, the board holds the SDA signal on Pin 5 HIGH during the acknowledge clock cycle which results in not being able to detect an Acknowledge (LOW) from a slave device. The SDA pin during the acknowledge clock cycle is configured as an Input. The ATTiny85 worked just fine when removed from the programmer.
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Super handy. Buy a chip extractor to go with it.
If you want to program an ATTiny84 with this, here are the pin connections:
ATTiny84 ---> Tiny Programmer 1 ---> + 14 ---> -- (minus sign) 4 ---> (unlabeled) 7 ---> 0 8 ---> 1 9 ---> 2
( find more info here )
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This seems to work flawlessly, even when I have a hard time getting my other programmers to “play nice” with the ATTiny85.
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The schematic shown is for REV 14, however I was sent REV 13, board I designed to match the pinouts at JP10, doesn’t match now I’m forced to connect each pin individually to program each my board. Grrrr.
Hi, From my records, we haven’t revised these in years. I’m not sure why your board doesn’t match what you expected. I’m very sorry for the issue.
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I wish this came assembled and in an enclosure. One small bump and the USB connector is likely be easily ripped off.
I had used Arduino to program the tiny one but since I used this Tiny AVR programmer, it makes my live more easier. Thanks Sparkfun for having this product
Tried in vain to get this thing to work on the newest release of arduino. (1.6?) Used the old arduino programmer and it worked. Wish there were better instructions for beginners.
Hardware: Great simple programmer with plenty of options! The female headers hold jumpers quite well. Nice that other programming pin options are offered. Good form factor: won’t hog USB space from another port next to it and fairly sturdy (with no intermittent connection issues).
Software - Drivers: I know that the drivers aren’t the product, but without them the product doesn’t function. First, is anyone else using Chrome getting a security error when trying to download the drivers? I keep getting the red danger page stating “The site ahead contains harmful programs. Attackers on cdn.sparkfun.com might attempt to trick you into installing programs that harm your browsing experience (for example, by changing your homepage or showing extra ads on sites you visit).” I know Sparkfun isn’t evil, so I just used another browser to remedy this. Now my homepage is Sparkfun.com….jk. Drivers work with Arduino 1.6.1 (with Tiny add-on) and Win7.
Software - Arduino: There are frequency options for the Tiny85, but changing from the 1MHz internal clock does nothing. I tried using the 8MHz internal even when the Tiny AVR Guide warns me that things will slow down. It seems that the scaling settings for correct timing get changed but not the clock selection or prescaler. I’ve checked a few things to verify the clock not changing. Might have to dig in to figure out clock selection or directly write to the clock registers.
As this was going to be my first time dabbling into AVRs, I didn’t want something that required too much wiring. This little guy does the trick. The instructions and support given here made it well worth the money over cheaper solutions.
Getting it to work with Windows 8.1 is a pain, what with having to boot windows into a non-signed driver mode, but other than that minor, infrequent annoyance, this has been a pleasure!
Win7 works great, fast easy way to program chips. See ‘comments’ for my photos on adding legs to the socket to help with breadboard and in project usability.
Easily programs the attiny 85, both on board or breadboarded, but having difficulties doing a breadboarded 328 using Arduino IDE 1.6.4 following the hookup guide. Will persevere!
I’ve tried to use this programmer with Arduino IDE and I get, “avrdude: verification error, first mismatch is at 0x0080.” The board is set as ATtiny 45, 1 Mhz clock. The programmer is set to USB tiny ISP. I can program the same chips just fine using an Arduino UNO as programmer. Just bought this programmer. Could it be bad out of the box?
Hi, Make sure you follow the directions in the hook up guide, there are some steps and add ons that you must follow to get this operating in the Arduino IDE - https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/tiny-avr-programmer-hookup-guide/?_ga=1.214497687.1851504437.1417041706
This worked as expected. The windows 8 driver issue was a bit of a pain.
Works great with my ATtiny85 bought from sparkfun.com. I’m using the Arduino IDE to program the chip. I installed the IDE following the hookup guide also on sparkfun.
FIX: The links to the drivers are for an old Adafruit code base. The folk over at Adafruit have a signed Windows 8 - 10 driver on their site; https://learn.adafruit.com/usbtinyisp/download
It works and is verified with the 64 bit Windows 8 / 10
The AVR programmer is simple and easy to use. The price seems a tad high for what it is but it works and it works well.
Simple and light. Used to begin C/assembly without arduino IDE. Maybe a little difficult for beginners but with a lot of documentation on internet (perfect for programming the sunday in sofa ^^).
What I like about this programmer is that it programs without requiring a preloaded bootstrap loader. It is also small and self-contained (does not need a separate power supply). Naturally, the Arduino IDE port is a great asset as well. I bought 25 of them and handed them out for free when I gave an invited lecture to high-school students recently. It was very appreciated! I´m just worried that they may ask me to give this lecture to many more classes… /Robert
I used it at first to program some ATtiny85 ICs but soon added a 3x2 male header and with six male-to-female jumpers, I now program my 328P ICs on the motherboard. Great value.
Works as advertised. Driver installation was easy but not seamless. Directly plugging in to a usb port causes unwanted mechanical strain. I recommend using with a usb extension cable.
Otherwise an excellent tool.
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Publicity should make it clear that this device cannot accommodate surface mount I.C’s
Now I have a quick and easy way to program ATtiny85, using the Arduino IDE 1.6.6. I have followed Hookup Guide.
I used it to create a one-off simple game timer. It worked flawlessly, once I got both the correct and current software for both this device and the Arduino IDE. My Mac did not show it as an attached USB device, but the on-board LED let me know the two were conversing. Off I go now to do some more stuff with these terrific little ATtiny85s!!
programs ATTINY85, super easy to set up and use, no more messy jumper wires from my Arduino Uno, plug and go!
I’ve used it on Windows and Mac so far. Well integrated into Arduino IDE. AND It’s inexpensive.
Would have been nice to have a link to the drivers.
Thanks to this board, the ATtiny85 has become my favorite chip for projects. I only wish I knew half the features this board offers.
A word of caution, and some praise for durability: I have melted 3 ATtiny85s by plugging them in backwards. Each time I just desoldered the melted socket, soldered on a new one, and went back to work. I love that this board could take that kind of clumsy abuse.
This programmer is great. If you need to utilize all of the 8K of flash on the ATtiny85, definitely buy this. It allows you to program the ATtiny85 without needing a bootloader, saving around 2K of flash.
A great little device. Works great programming my ATtiny85 chips. Super easy and quick. A wonderful tool in my pile of electronics.
Wow this baby works great and is so small.
Very quick to set up and easy to use. Had my ATtiny85 controlling an LED array in no time.
So much more convenient than using an Arduino Uno as an ISP Even my SOIC ZIF adapter fits on it ( http://c.shld.net/rpx/i/s/i/mp/38124/prod_3367361926?hei=245&wid=245&op_sharpen=1&qlt=85)
My only complaint was shipping - it took forever to get here.
I love that you can quickly and easily flash an ATTiny45 on this thing. It’s so nice not having to wire up a breadboard to flash the chip. This is about as convenient as you can get. Got it working very quickly on Mac OS X with avr dude
Love it, simple as that. Worth every penny of the twenty bucks.
When I ordered this I was having problems with my Macbook Air attaching to some Chinese Arduino’s. When this programmer came in I resigned myself to having to slog through debugging usb communications on the Mac. Imagine my surprise when It worked the very FIRST TIME! Awesome sauce! Bravo on this product. I’m very happy.
Super easy to use with the latest Arduino.cc IDE and the sparkfun link to the driver for ATTiny85. Working great on win8.1 and win10.
Have not got it to work with an Atmega328p yet. Could be the chip I’m using has already been fused to 16 MHz. Not a biggie as I could always plug the chip into an UNO and re-fuse it. ;)
I like this easy device for 8 pin at85. I approve this review. LOL.
Great for most projects where you only need a couple of inputs and outputs.
Easy to use and (thus far) works perfectly!
If you want this thing to last, and you will, because it’s so much more useful than any other incarnation of AVR programmers - install additional headers first and then cover the entire stick in epoxy. Put a little loop of scotch tape around the chip socket to make sure glue doesn’t get into it and cover RST/VCC jumpers with a cutout from a pencil eraser if you ever plan on messing with the bootloader. The rest can use a layer of epoxy as thick as the USB plug.
Would be nice if this had a USB-B port so this could be connected by a cable, as currently I have to use it in an awkward position on my PC. Otherwise works well. Proto headers are a nice touch
It works as advertised. It is nice that we can program little ATtinys!
It works exactly as expected and I love it. Makes simple projects even easier.
Like I said in the title…
I got this to program ATTiny85s and I expected to use the breakout headers to program it in-circuit with jumpers to the breadboard circuit for rapid prototyping. The circuit used I2C with an external EEPROM. The circuit did not work with the chip installed on the programmer, but with the chip in-circuit without the programmer it worked correctly. I believe this may be due to this programmer not being able to allow I2C communication when the chip is installed on the programmer unfortunately - I suspect this due to a comment left by a previous customer. I am forced to move the chip back and forth to the programmer to use it correctly. If I knew this I probably wouldn’t have bought it. Can you please fix this problem? Thanks.
I was using the Arduino and a basic breadboard for programming ATTiny85, but now, with this Tiny AVR, which works perfectly with Arduino studio, it is easiest, faster & reliable.
Great little tool for programming an attiny85 chip with. Have used it for small scale police cars!
When i first received the Tiny AVR programmer i was able to program an Attiny85 in a breakout board without any issues. It was a blank IC from Digikey now i got a new shipment of ICs from Digikey and im able to burn the bootloader on to them without any issues but every time i try to upload a program through arduino i get a content mismatch error.
It’s easy to use and very effective. I think it’s pretty near excellent. I’ve been working on a project with several folks and each of us has been prototyping with our own Tiny AVR Programmer.
A couple of things to watch out for. Be sure all the pins of your ATTiny are very securely inserted. It’s very sensitive.
And if the USB port is not working, just slightly giggle it around a bit.
Your guide is pretty good. I’m working on a blogpost that covers a few small issues that can confuse beginners and also how to use ATTiny85s with servo motors, which can be challenging! I will share when I finish.
Absolutely awesome little programmer!
I am still new to Arduino, only having built a few projects, but having used an Uno, mega and nano, I quickly learned that the boards' size is rather ungainly (and expensive!) to leave in a simple project. The attiny85 is a great size and easy to use with this programmer. Just download a few drivers, which sparkfun provides a link to, follow their instructions and you are blinking LEDs in minutes. You can use the tiny85 by itself or gang them together to take the code-load off of another microcontroller. I am using 85’s from China for less than $.50 each! Definitely a game changer for me. Thanks sparkfun!
No longer need to plug in jumper wires from my Uno to a breadboard. Plus I can use the programmer to build the project circuit instead of shuttling the ATting 85 back and forth between breadboards.
Well, to my surprise, this device doesn’t need to have a port assigned to get it functioning. I was a little caught off guard by that. I think I can now work with this every way I wanted.
<<So far, this product was a complete waste of money. I haven’t been able to get the Arduino IDE to recognize the port on my Mac. I’ve gone through several solutions for the issue based on similar issues people have had with other Arduino products. Still nothing. There was a page on Sparkfun too, but it’s a dead link.>>
Sorry about the troubles with the Tiny AVR programmer. Have you contacted our technical support department available @ firstname.lastname@example.org - they’re usually quite good at assisting with issues like this.
Works perfectly. Breakouts very handy. Worth the $ for flashing these great little micros.
OK Sparkfun’s automated email asked me to review this device. I like it for programming LilyTiny and LilyTwinkle which I enjoy to use. In this regard, I use what I call the funny looking “cadelabra” connectors. So I broke one of those as they seem to be made of a brittle metal (all 4 broke off). So I had to get a replacement.
The product works as expected and is easy to setup and get started on programming the ATtiny chip!
This is the first device that has effectively programmed the ATTiny85 pu after about 20+ attempts with other programmers and Uno as programmer.. Drivers and functions are very intuitive.
I am using the Tiny AVR Programmer and it is working fine. The documentation/tutorial is a little old and I suggest that you use the links they made available for getting the files via github.
I finally was able to use the programmer but the tutorial is kind of misleading. It needs to be updated for windows 10 or even Ubuntu as it is free and user friendly. Also update to Arduino 1.8.x or the web editor. I feel the tutorial is part of the product as no manual is included with the programmer.
This is an incredible device. After hours of playing around with an Atmel ICE, AVRISP MK 2 and configuring the associated drivers and such I came across this programmer on Sparkfun and ordered a couple. I put a Tiny85 in the socket, followed the directions to update the Arduino IDE and I was able to immediately start working on my project.
This is a very handy product. The setup is fast and easy. I would recommend this to anyone working with the AT tiny 45 & 85.
Unfortunately, the LED connected to MISO means that you can’t keep this thing in your circuit while debugging I2C and other serial protocols that require you to pull MISO back and forth. Desoldering that LED makes this a great little tool, but it’s a pain to do for such a tiny component.
Great little device, does exactly what I wanted, I am very happy with it and the on-line instructions required on getting it going initially.
Greetings from Germany. I bought this item and it arrived in Cologne in less then 2 weeks, great! I used the shipping time to prepare my Arduino IDE and alter the blink-sketch, so when the programmer arrived, I put it into the USB-Port, installed the drivers, one click and the LED startet blinking. You get what you see and it does what it should do, so there is no reason to grumble. Nevertheless I wonder why did they not solder in the pins for the ISP-headers. I think it would not rise the price that much and would prevent me from messing around with the valuable PCB. Driver-installation on win 8 is really a pain in the … Here in german language: Treiberinstallation für deutsches win 8.1: win-Taste+C: öffnet Charms-Menue (rechte Seite) - EInstellungen - PC-Einstellungen ändern - Update/Wiederherstellung - Wiederherstellung - Jetzt neu starten - Problembehandlung - Erweiterte Optionen - Starteinstellungen - Neustart dann die 7 wählen, der PC startet und endlich kann man die Treiber installieren
DIese Abfolge am besten ausdrucken, damit man sich nicht verirrt.
I believe the update screws up the tiny avr process.. I had my attinys working.. updated to the new one… now they dont work.. Back to the previous one and it is back on… KNowing my newbieness…it is probably just me but still the error is
Arduino: 1.6.1 (Windows 7), Board: “ATtiny85 (internal 8 MHz clock)”
Selected board depends on ‘arduino’ core (not installed).
This report would have more information with “Show verbose output during compilation” enabled in File > Preferences.
so I guess for now Ill stick with the previous version…
Very convenient and easy to use. headers make prototyping simple. The pins on the back make it simple to program other AVRs, just make sure to use right angle pins or it won’t plug into a laptop.
The Tiny AVR Programmer is an excellent device for programming and testing Atmel 8-pin MCUs. It beats Arduino boards which need leads as well as a 10 uF capacitor by lengths… Great work from Sparkfun!
Thanks SparkFun for the excellent tutorials for getting started programming attiny chips with this device. Below is a video of some music I programmed to play from the attiny. As a testament to the robustness of the tiny avr programmer, if you look closely you’ll see a crater in the middle of the chip socket. Yep, I put one in backwards and it got quite hot. The chip was toast of course, but the tiny avr programmer still works! (I later ordered a spare programmer given the price is so reasonable).
About 30 seconds long, a little Bach. A link to the C source is on the youtube page.
I’m still using Windows XP. The Tiny Programmer works fine with Arduino 1.0.6 but I could not get it to work with Arduino 1.6.1 or 1.6.3 even though I followed the Sparkfun and High Low Tech. tutorials and downloaded the files for 1.6.1.
Every time I attempted to upload a sketch I received the error message “id.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close”.
If anyone has a suggestion, I’ll try it.