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SparkFun's FTDI Basic Programmer | Kevin Rye.net - Main

Kevin Rye

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SparkFun's FTDI Basic Programmer

Once my MEGA MINI PCBs arrive, I’m going to need a way to upload sketches to them. I plan on using the MEGA MINI as a test-bed for my GPS clock. I’ve never soldered or in-circuit programmed an ATmega2560 before. I’d hate to waste $100 worth of tech assembling the GPS clock for it to not work. So I want to make something simple as sort of a practice run.

In order to program the board, I’ll need an FTDI programmer. I picked up SparkFun’s FTDI Basic Breakout board for $15 bucks.


It’s a simple little thing, but it’ll allow me to upload sketches without the use of an Arduino. With such a small amount of components, it’s easy to imagine just including the whole design directly into the final project.


Connecting it to an ATmega is as simple as this:
  • Wire up an ATmega on a breadboard as you normally would
  • Connect Vcc and ground from the FTDI programmer to the ATmega
  • Ground CTS on the FTDI programmer
  • Connect the TX and RX lines of the FTDI programmer to their respective pins on the ATmega
  • Pull the ATmega’s reset pin high through a 10K pull-up resistor
  • Connect the FTDI programmer’s DTR pin to the ATmega’s Reset pin through a 0.10 uF cap

You should have something that looks like this:

FTDI hookup diagram 620

I thought I’d have to install drivers or something, but my Mac seemed to pick it right up. On the Arduino IDE’s Tools > Serial Port menu, the FTDI programmer appeared as soon as I plugged it in. I also chose Arduino Uno as my target board.

Pick FTDI serial por 001

With everything connected and configured, I uploaded the Blink sketch.


It’s really fast. It loaded the Blink Sketch in about a second. You’ll see the TX/RX LEDs blink and then pin 13 starts to blink almost immediately.

That’s one more obstacle overcome. Next up will be trying to figure out how to write the bootloader to an ATmega2560. I already ordered an AVR Programmer for that, but I won’t be able to do anything with it until my PCBs arrive in the mail.