In preparation for the v4.2 Bus Pirate firmware release, here’s an instruction guide for upgrading with the ds30 Loader GUI.

Firmware v4+ requires a new bootloader. The new bootloader is an adaptation of the open source ds30 Loader. The new bootloader v4+ uses a new upgrade application, the old P24qp.exe (P24qp.py) will not work with the new bootloader.

This guide describes how to use the ds30 Loader GUI application, it should work with Windows (.NET) and Linux and Mac (Mono). If you’d prefer, there’s also a Pirate-Loader console application for all platforms that doesn’t require .NET or Mono.

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ROM programmers and motherboard hackers will be happy to know that there’s a new release of Flashrom for Windows, ported by pgeorgi and posted informally in the forum.

Flashrom is an open source utility for working with flash storage chips. It supports a bunch of flash chips commonly used on motherboards to hold the system BIOS. biosflasher (Carl-Daniel Hailfinger) added Bus Pirate support to Flashrom, pgeorgi has been compiling a version for the Bus Pirate on Windows.

This portrait of Abe Lincoln etched onto a PCB is too fun to miss. We’ve hidden signatures, graffiti, and love notes in the copper of PCBs.  How do you sign your boards?

Mikael Gustafsson, developer of the ds30 Loader we depend on for lots of projects, spent some time hacking the web platform bootloader. His insights are posted below, you can download his bootloader tests in an archive or from the project SVN.

Because of the “long” download times I tweaked the bootloader firmware a little. Changed operation to 40MIPS. Added auto baudrate detection which allows for mega baud rates+. The limit of the ftdi chip is 3 Mbps. I’ve successfully downloaded at 2Mbps. But it seems using baud rates above 256k doesn’t do much difference.

You can buy an assembled web platform for $40, including worldwide shipping. Seeed isn’t currently shipping due to the Chinese spring holiday, but your order will ship ASAP after they return on February 22.

Bootloader hacking continues below.

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julky demonstrated a USB->serial bridge for the Parallax RFID reader with the Bus Pirate.

The Parallax board reads passive RFID EM4100 type RFID tags, and outputs the tag ID as simple serial data at 2400bps. It’s the first inexpensive RFID reader to catch on with hobbyists.

Demo: is a weekly series that demonstrates devices with the Bus Pirate. Come back next Monday for another new demo.

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We go through a lot of prototype PCBs, and end up with lots of extras that we’ll never use. Every Sunday we give away a few PCBs from one of our past or future projects, or a related prototype. PCBs by Seeed Studio.

This is another prototype PCB for the USB infrared remote control receiver/transmitter. Unlike the earlier prototype, this version uses a USB mini-B jack. Unlike the final PCB, it doesn’t have a transistor to power the IR LED with greater than 20mA. The IR receiver is connected to a single interrupt pin, the receiver on the final version of the IR Toy connects to an additional interrupt pin with a Schmitt trigger for better noise immunity.

You can get an assembled USB IR Toy for $20, including worldwide shipping.

We’re giving away two PCBs this week. Just ask for it in the comments.

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Today we’re giving away an assembled Bus Pirate high-voltage programming adapter. It has a 5pin PIC programming header, a 6pin AVR programming header, and a small 13volt boost-converter power supply. A 13volt supply is needed to program PIC 12/16/18F microcontrollers, and clear the RESET fuse in AVRs. It’s doesn’t do much right now though, because there’s no support for it in any programming apps.

This will eventually be available at Seeed Studio, but you can get a preview of the hardware by leaving a comment below. Let us know what you want to do with it, on Monday we’ll send the adapter to a commenter with an interesting idea.  If you don’t have any ideas you can endorse another comment, we’ll take popularity into account when we give it away.

Andrew wrote a Python script to display Winamp playlist info on an ethernet-connected #twatch LCD:

It’s pretty basic at the moment, but I thought people might like to see. I’ve got some speakers in my lounge room driven by my computer (long wires), this lets me know what’s playing.

It shows artist on row 1, title on row 2, and a test string on row 3. Long stuff scrolls at a rate proportional to its length. The winamp code has hooks to add a play/pause indication, times, and a bunch more.

There’s also a copy in the #twatch script folder of the SVN repository.

You can buy an assembled #twatch with LCD for $45, including worldwide shipping. Seeed isn’t currently shipping due to the Chinese spring holiday, but your order will ship ASAP after they return on February 22.

Sjaak has been hard at work on a new terminal interface for the Bus Pirate. There are exciting new features like:

  • A command history (h menu)
  • Multiple command sequences can be processed at once
  • ASCII character values are sent to the bus when entered between quotes (“text”)
  • Mode changes now include an exit option
  • Massively improved code structure, more unified, less space used

This is a massive update to the firmware, and it probably won’t be incorporated until after the next few releases, but this is your chance to try it out now. You can test the latest nightly compile, but remember that this is only a preview, some modes are not ported to the new framework. This firmware requires that you’ve upgraded to the v4+ bootloader.

Read more about the new firmware, see a demo of new features, and help with development, in the forum.

coolnicks posted this picture of the assembled web platform hardware from Seeed. Our prototype was on plain green PCB, so this is the first time we’ve seen it in danger red. Thanks for the pics!

If you’ve just received your web platform, here’s some tutorials and links to get you started:

You can buy an assembled web platform for $40, including worldwide shipping. Seeed isn’t currently shipping due to the Chinese spring holiday, but your order will ship ASAP after they return on February 22.

will_j posted this picture of his Bus Pirate in use as a transparent USB->serial bridge to a Wavecom GSM modem.

Thanks for the tip!

Sjaak posted this demo of a KS0074 serial LCD in the forum:

I needed to test the SPI library with the newterm branch. I had a nice display from a dead Siemens phone. It uses a KS0074 display (which is an sort of SPI version of the good old HD44780). I found the datasheet and some example code on the internet  (sorry only German is available). During the testing I found out the Bus Pirate spits out the bits the other way around then in the code/datasheet.

Demo: is a weekly series that demonstrates devices with the Bus Pirate. Come back next Monday for another new demo.

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We go through a lot of prototype PCBs, and end up with lots of extras that we’ll never use. Every Sunday we give away a few PCBs from one of our past or future projects, or a related prototype. PCBs by Seeed Studio.

This is another prototype PCB for the USB infrared remote control receiver/transmitter. Unlike the earlier prototype, this version uses a USB mini-B jack. Unlike the final PCB, it doesn’t have a transistor to power the IR LED with greater than 20mA. The IR receiver is connected to a single interrupt pin, the receiver on the final version of the IR Toy connects to an additional interrupt pin with a Schmitt trigger for better noise immunity.

You can get an assembled USB IR Toy for $20, including worldwide shipping.

We’re giving away two PCBs this week, this is the second. Just ask for it in the comments.

Read the rest of this entry »

We go through a lot of prototype PCBs, and end up with lots of extras that we’ll never use. Every Sunday we give away a few PCBs from one of our past or future projects, or a related prototype. PCBs by Seeed Studio.

This is the final version of the PCB for the USB infrared remote control receiver/transmitter. This IR hacking tool can visualize infrared signals on a Java logic analyzer, record and replay infrared signals, and decode them.

You can get an assembled USB IR Toy for $20, including worldwide shipping.

We’re giving away two PCBs this week, one now, and one later today. Just ask for it in the comments.

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s3c is tantalizing us with this mystery EEPROM device. It’s a small I2C EEPROM data storage chip, and it appears to be powered parasitically from the I2C clock line.

Was bored today so I opened a dongle I had laying around. It only contains an I2C eeprom and a couple of passives but it’s pretty smart, it uses a diode and capacitor to power the eeprom from the eeprom clock line.

Anyone have an idea what the resistors R1 and R4 are for? I’m assuming PIN1 and PIN2 are connected to Vcc through external resistors and are connected as SDA and SCL for normal I2C operation.

We’ll send a free PCB to the poster with the most persuasive explanation of the circuit.

Torsten got tired of looking up the Bus Pirate IO table in the manual, so he made this handy spec and pin reference card:

Please find attached my version of a quick reference card. The information is, due to the limitation of the sheet not very much. I tried to get the most important infos on it.

It is a LaTeX-file based on the pgf/tikz package. I documented the file in a way that even a LaTeX-novice should be able to modify the colour code to his needs. I created this card with the pcb-board of the Bus Pirate V3 in mind. It will fit exactly under the pcb and thus people can stick it there by double sided tape or whatever.

Anyhow, any changes and suggestions are welcome. I published it under GNU Free Documentation License, thus you can do whatever you like with it.

Thanks for the tip!

See also ecronin’s case sticker, and the new pin reference card category. We’ll keep openly-licensed reference cards in the documents folder of the SVN, feel free to contribute yours.

We’ve been working on an open source logic analyzer prototype with Jack Gassett of the Gadget Factory. The project is currently known by the code name ‘SUMP-PUMP’, but you can help suggest a name. The design incorporates elements of the Butterfly platform, which is available now at the Gadget Factory.

On Wednesday we offered a free SUMP PUMP to the developer of a command line utility that could replace our Perl script ROM uploader. Michal Demin completed the challenge in less than 24hours. Piotr and Ipenguin helped with patches for the Mac. Congratulations, and thanks for the hard work!

Michal will receive a preview SUMP PUMP. You can try the app here.

There are reports of web platform deliveries in the forum, so we thought this would be a good time for an introduction to dsPIC33 programming.

This introduction aims to help you start writing and compiling your own applications for the web platform. We cover lots of basics like toggling pins, configuration bits, clock settings, and peripheral setup.

The example application will allow you to control the web platform indicator LEDs from a serial terminal, but it can be expanded for lots of other uses too.

Assembled web platforms are available at Seeed Studio now for $40, including worldwide shipping.

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We’ve been working on an open source logic analyzer prototype with Jack Gassett of the Gadget Factory. The project is currently known by the code name ‘SUMP-PUMP’, but you can help suggest a name. The design incorporates elements of the Butterfly platform, which is available now at the Gadget Factory.

Update: Michal Demin completed this challenge in less than 24hours. Congratulations!

Here’s your chance to get a SUMP PUMP for free, maybe even a preview unit. We need command line utilities to update the SUMP PUMP FPGA image from Windows, Mac, and Linux. We’re currently using a Perl script, but this is too much hassle for end users. If you develop the best console update utility, we’ll send you the SUMP PUMP hardware.

The update is done over a virtual serial port using a simple protocol. Ideally, the utility would load Intel HEX files directly, but we have raw binary blobs too. The utility must compile on all major platforms (Windows, MacOSX, and Linux). Piotr’s Pirate-Loader utility source code should have everything you need to get started. Here’s a development thread in the forum.

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Daniel Garcia, a friend of Dangerous Prototypes, released version 1.4 of the Protostack development board for ATMEGA8 and ATMEGA128. We really like the Protostack concept: it’s a general purpose development board that incorporates user feedback. It demonstrates the minimum circuit to get a 28pin AVR chip working, and has a large prototyping area to implement your own designs.

I released a new version of my 28 pin AVR board. The new version (1.4) has 4 improvements over the previous version (1.3):

  • Addition of power supply section
  • ISP-6 interface is now 2×3 pin instead of 1×6 pin
  • Addition of IDC/Double row header section
  • Clearer labeling of power buses

We have a v1.3 board, we’ll demonstrate it with the Bus Pirate soon. The v1.4 board includes a voltage regulator section, which makes it a very well rounded development platform for $15-$20, including shipping.