Cheap GAL/PLD programmer

From: Eric Smith <>
Date: Tue Feb 1 16:17:46 2005

Rich wrote:
> Does anyone have any recommendations for a cheap (even a kit)
> GAL/PLD programmer? My EPROM programmer does not do GALs

I used to like the stuff from Needham's Electronics, but I haven't used
any of their products in a long time now.

I'm not sure if it meets your criteria for cheap, but from time to
time old Data I/O Unisite universal programmers sell for $200-$300.
This is a standalone engineering-grade programmer that can be hooked up
to a dumb terminal or a serial port on a PC/Mac/whatever. If a device
can be programmed, the Unisite can program it. They sell new for well
over $10K.

AFAIK, the only devices that the Unisite isn't capable of programming
are the ancient Intel 1701, 1702, and 1702A EPROMs, which require voltages
a little too weird for any universal programmer. (Maybe the National
5203 and 5204 EPROMS might be in that category as well.) One thing to
watch out for with a Unisite is that you need to hang on to old versions
of the software (supplied on 720K 3.5-inch floppy disks), because they
drop support for some older devices in newer software. Various people
on this list have various versions of the Unisite software.

The Unisite holds two socket modules, a smaller one on the left that
is usually a "Site 40" or "Site 48", supporting DIP packages up to
40/48 pins, and a larger one on the right for which there are several
different modules available, such as the "ChipSite" and "PinSite". I
get those mixed up, but one has about eight different PLCC sockets,
and the other uses the funny elastomeric pad and clamshell dohicky to
support many packages including SOP, TSOP, and QFP. I just used the
Site 48 and the PLCC module.

Inside the Unisite are between ten and seventeen quad pin driver boards.
For the site 40/48 you need ten or eleven of those, so there are
normally at least that many. For higher pin count packages you need
more; the full complement of seventeen is needed to support 84 pin
PLCC parts. If you get a Unisite, make sure you get enough pin drivers,
as they are very expensive to buy from Data I/O.

I think I know where there are about ten Unisites in Colorado for
around $180 each, though they are offered "AS-IS". I think the
seller would allow a prospective buyer to test them before purchase,
but he wouldn't test them for you. When you power up a Unisite and
it boots the software, it does a fairly thorough self-test. If it
passes that, it's unlikely that anything is seriously wrong with it.
But just to be sure, I'd take along an EPROM or microcontroller to
program. Preferrably a 40 or 48 pin device in order to test as many
pin drivers as possible.

Received on Tue Feb 01 2005 - 16:17:46 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:37:34 BST