Introduction: Turn Your Arduino Into an ISP

Picture of Turn Your Arduino Into an ISP

Learn how to turn your Arduino into an AVR In System Programmer. This will allow you to burn bootloaders onto new chips or program AVRs without a bootloader.

Step 1: Materials

To begin you will need:
* Arduino (I will be using the Uno)
* AVR Microcontroller (This tutorial will cover the ATtiny85 & ATmega644)
* Arduino IDE
* Breadboard
* Jumpers

Step 2: Setup

Picture of Setup

Before we begin programming chips we must set up the Arduino. First, make sure your Arduino IDE is up to date. Then select the File >> Examples >> ArduinoISP sketch and upload it to your Arduino. Now your Arduino is now an AVR ISP.

Step 3: Using Your Arduino ISP: Programming AVRs Without Bootloaders

Picture of Using Your Arduino ISP: Programming AVRs Without Bootloaders

There are a few instances in which it is neccesary to program microcontrollers without a bootloader. For example, if have run out of storage on a chip you can get an additional 2KB when you program without a bootloader. Another example, the one I will show you how to do, is to program chips that have no serial capabilities and therefore cannot use a bootloader. The ATtiny85 is one of these chips. 

To program the ATtiny85 using the Arduino ISP you must first add ATtiny85 support to the Arduino environment:
* Download
* Unzip the folder
* Copy the folder to the Arduino IDE's Hardware folder
* Reopen the Arduino IDE, you should see the ATtiny85 in the Tools >> Board menu

Now connect your Arduino ISP to the ATtiny85 like the diagram below. 

Open the Blink sketch, change every '13' to '0', select ATtiny85 from the Tools >> Board menu, and select the serial port that is your Arduino ISP. Now click on upload and your ATtiny will begin blinking the LED once it's done.

Step 4: Using Your Arduino ISP: Burning Bootloaders

Picture of Using Your Arduino ISP: Burning Bootloaders

What if you want to program your chip over USB without an ISP? Well then you can use a bootloader. The process of programming a bootloader onto a chip is called burning a bootloader. Let's look how you burn a bootloader onto an ATmega644 using your Arduino ISP. 

To burn the bootloader to the ATmega644 you must first add ATmega644 support to the Arduino environment:
* Download the Sanguino hardware file
* Unzip the folder
* Copy the folder to the Arduino IDE's Hardware folder
* Open Hardware >> Sanguino >> boards.txt 
* Change:
     * 'sanguino.bootloader.file=ATmegaBOOT_644P.hex' to 'sanguino.bootloader.file=ATmegaBOOT_644.hex'
     * '' to ''
* Reopen the Arduino IDE, you should see Sanguino in the Tools >> Board menu 

Now connect your Arduino ISP to the ATmega644 like the diagram below.

Select Sanguino from the Tools >> Board menu, and select the serial port that is your Arduino ISP. Now click on Tools >> Burn Bootloader >> w/ Arduino as ISP. If there is more than one 'w/ Arduino as ISP' just try each one until it works. 

Step 5: Congratulations!

You now have am Arduino ISP and know how to use it!


Keshav24 (author)2016-07-30

Hi ,
Can u please tell ne how to burn bootloader into atmega32. Can u give me the link of the files needed ..
Ie. Bootloader
Burning software

beemakka (author)2011-02-17

Well jayjay, I was like................................................blhurhshphit, then I was like.................................................plplplplpliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip, then I was like.............................................."what is it with people these days expressing their emotions so poorly?"


gsuarda bluetour (author)2011-12-07

is this means that i can program my AVR micro controller with the simple arduino code in C ?

diy_bloke (author)2011-12-13

So do i understand correctly yu do not have to load the ArduinoISP sketch? The Arduino programs the Attiny with the sketch that is uploaded to the Arduino? Is taht correct?

Asaleemj (author)2012-02-28

I want to use it for Controlling Home appliances through Bluetooth Mobile and please can any one send me complete code for this microcontroller and which tool will be used to assemble and depoly the code

Use an internet portal instead, and just buy a pre made arduino mega.

victor.valadez.547 (author)2015-04-20

There is also another good tutorial titled:

"Arduino Uno R3 as a true ISP programmer for any Attiny and Atmega AVR"


HirenT1 (author)2014-10-08

HirenT1 (author)2014-10-08

HirenT1 (author)2014-10-08

AlexTech (author)2013-12-26

What software do you use to make the diagrams?

austpet1230 (author)AlexTech2013-12-26

He's using Fritzing (available here)

Foxtrot70 (author)2012-02-20

I do not have an arduino board but, have breadboarded a 328 chip. I can burn bootloader to the 328 chip but can not get the ArduinoISP sketch to load to the 328. I do get an error msg... avrdude: stk500_getsync(): not in sync: resp-0x00 . I also have some programs I want to DL to the ATTiny85 but, can not until this problem is solved. Can you help me?

WildWalkerCT (author)Foxtrot702013-03-03

by ISP do you mean 'Internet Service Provider'?

Gairlochan (author)WildWalkerCT2013-05-30

No, in this context ISP stands for 'In System Programmer'. Iow, it's a device which enables you to programme your AVR chip in situ, without having to remove it from the circuit. ISP programming is a fairly recent innovation in microcontroller programming.

atb_uk (author)Foxtrot702012-10-08

I had the exact same problem when I was using Arduino as an ISP.
What I found is that arduino is trying to write data too fast.
You can fix it by selecting "Arduino NG or older" from the boards menu and "Arduino ISP" as a programmer. This will force ISP to write data at 19,2kbps instead of 57,6kbps. Hope it helps.

Foxtrot70 (author)atb_uk2012-10-08

Thanks I'll give it a try.

Michael_Bell (author)Foxtrot702012-06-26

I have the same problem, have you had any luck?

leeseibert (author)2013-03-11

Here is some help for those using the Arduino Mega ADk or Mega 2560 instead of Uno or Due.

Check it out:

Sparticles (author)2011-08-12

Thank you very much!
This actually works!

But I still have a question with the time. Now, I used the blink program to test it out. Blinking a led 1000 ms on and 1000 ms off. At least so is it written in the code. The actual blinking is rather 8 seconds on and 8 seconds off.
Probably something with some different oscillator inside. (I used ATtiny2313)
Do you maybe know a proper way to adjust this?

(ok, I can divide everything by 8 but there is probably a better way.)

Snortimer (author)Sparticles2013-02-01

It's been a couple years, but people might want to know. Your code has to be compiled for the correct clock speed of your target chip. This is when the conversion between cycles and ms occurs, so your code does not need to change.

slayer04 (author)2012-04-27

Please help, this must be my 20th time trying to get this to work. I'm currently trying to use Arduino 1.0 I dowloaded the correct ATiny files, it burns the bootloader just fine but then when I go to upload the Blink sketch I get:

Problem uploading to Board.

avrdude: please define PAGEL and BS2 signals in the configuration file for part ATtiny85
avrdude: please define PAGEL and BS2 signals in the configuration file for part ATtiny85

avrdude: stk500_paged_write(): (a) protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0x64
avrdude: stk500_cmd(): protocol error

I understand the first part can sometimes be ignored but I can assure you that the sketch isn't getting uploaded, any ideas?

Thank you very much for any help

slayer04 (author)2012-03-16

Nice instructible, but would you happen to know why my blink sketch runs about 5x faster when I upload it to the ATiny? I don't have any real errors, the sketch is set to delay 1000 like normal but it cycles about every .2 secs.

skootles (author)slayer042012-04-16

It might be the clock speed of the ATtiny. Follow the instructions on this page to change the clock speed to 8MHz:

phenoptix (author)2012-03-19

I found it easier to add the optional LEDs to the 7,8,9 pins for a error, programming and heartbeat LEDs (respectively) and leaving the LED on the breadboard off until the program successfully uploads. It just helped with debugging and understanding the circuit.

Mark3rr (author)2011-03-02

Hi there,
I used your instruction to get a bootloader on an Atmega328p by using the Arduino uno with the Arduino Software release22 on a mac. But the only thing I get are some Error Codes like:

avrdude: stk500_getparm(): (a) protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0x14

avrdude: stk500_getparm(): (a) protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0x01
avrdude: stk500_initialize(): (a) protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0x10
avrdude: initialization failed, rc=-1
Double check connections and try again, or use -F to override
this check.

avrdude: stk500_disable(): unknown response=0x12

I did it like shown here:

But it doesn`t work......
Can you help me? :)

jgrina (author)Mark3rr2012-02-07

Version of Arduino IDE 0022 use
Version Arduino IDE 1.0 use
mixing them up makes a mess

jayjay110 (author)2011-02-03

Damn the title is misleading to me... i thought it said ISP as in Internet Service Provider, and i was like WOOOOAAAAA, then i was

brawns214 (author)jayjay1102011-02-07

I thought the same thing when I first read this, then realized WHOA, this is way more useful!

DIY-Guy (author)brawns2142011-11-22

Agreed! This is much more useful for building a business than trying to compete with the phone company. Various companies are currently selling circuits based upon a custom programmed chip. Everything is open source but of course the pre-programmed chip is what you end up buying... and that's where the money is to be made.

I gave up doing the Internet Service Provider thing a long time ago also. This has more potential on the scale that I would operate.

I'm curious to know what the expectation of an Arduino Internet Service Provider would be. I was in the dial-up ISP business in 1995. So, my thoughts on what ISP means is different than most consumers.

Can you even put into words what your most creative product would be?

my most creative product? Well, its a toss up between a piece of wood with a nail in or a dirt house in Minecraft, both took the same amount of time to complete and were really hard tasks!

kgee (author)jayjay1102011-09-11


same reason i clicked this one dude kinda sad :(

that would have been cool

techboy411 (author)2011-11-20

Arduino ROCKS!!!!!!!!

Exiumind (author)2011-10-16

Is it possible to burn another atmega like this?

csnowman00 (author)2011-06-13

Just thought this blurb from would be helpful:

NOTE: Currently, you cannot use an Arduino Uno as an ISP programmer because the optiboot bootloader does not support this sketch. A revision for this is in progress.

ryanstewart86 (author)csnowman002011-07-04

yeh you can dude, you put a 10uf cap between the reset input pin and ground to hold it high for a brief period.

andy70707 (author)2011-05-23

Could I use a similar method to program an ATtiny 2313 or a PIC16F648A?

thegriffy100 (author)2011-04-27

i love ISP

robonerd (author)2011-02-22

Had to prog a tiny85 and this was EXACTLY what I was looking for. Thanks a ton!

ElvenChild (author)2011-01-29


About This Instructable




More by mr_mac3:Turn Your Arduino Into an ISP
Add instructable to: