MhProgrammer is opensource/-hardware project to give option to commercial products for IC programming.
Why not some other freeware programmer ??
I can hear you saying "So what, I have dozens on openhardware programmers on my desk. This is just one of those..". Hopefully not. This is the reason why I started this project.
I also have dozens of great programmers hanging on my desk. But every time i need to use new programmable IC, i find that it is not posible to program with my existing programmers.
Normally openharware programmers are able to program just one kind of device ie. GAL, Eprom, serial epprom, Pic, Avr, Flash, MCU. But I have never found a hardware that would be able to program just any kind of device. That just why MhProgrammers exists ..
Why not a readymade commercial product ??
There are many commercial products on that field, but the prices are just too high, and when you buy one, you are too deeply connected to the company where you have bought the programmer. When they say that your programmer is not supported anymore, you have an almost useless programmer.
Also manufacturers of the programmers don't maintain their list of supported devices very well. If they do, you have to pay annual fees for software updates. When you can't find your IC from the list of supported devices, you are on your own again. I haven't seen any commercial general programmer where I could write a new device driver by myself.
Is it posible to program all devices with the same programmer?
No. I am sure that some day I will find an organic "chip" swimming in a class tube that I would need to program. It is not an easy task for a programmer to program every device on the earth. I know that MhProgrammer will fail with some devices but I hope that those odds will be very rare.
How about different IC footprints ??
One goal for this programmer is that you only have to add a new adapter for different type of IC footprint, not for every type of IC.
So you could handle all 6-40 pin DIP cases with a single adapter. Of cource when you need to add support for a new surfacemount device family you need to build an adapter for that footprint.
Will MhProgrammer fail with 1.15v devices, as my previous programmer did ??
No it won't. All different voltage levels and programming/operating voltages can be handled.
If this all is posible it will cost more than a cow !
Not necesarily, design is implemented so that it is scalable. You can start with 8 pin device model and program all 8 pin devices with that setup. You can add 8 pin modules as many as you wish and your previous investments are still fully usable. The goal is to maintain the price low, something like 3 USD/pin.
How about software drivers ?
Hardware is meant to be general, software not. So you need driver for every IC what you want to program. Drivers for different IC will be collected and will be made freely available. But you will propably need to write driver for previously unsupported device. Easy to use SDK will be available.