​The programming window of the MiniPro TL866A.


The included Windows software looks rather old-fashioned, but it does what it is supposed to do. Sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find specific functions. A nice feature is support for projects, which are files containing the microcontroller configuration bits in addition to the program code.
In my first programming task with the TL866, I initially had a problem with the fuse settings of the ATTiny85. Apparently there is some confusion about what ticking a checkbox actually means: Is the option concerned enabled or disabled? Is the fuse bit programmed as “0” or as “1”? With one of the bits it was exactly opposite the software of the Elnec programmer we use here in the Elektor Labs. Fortunately, the resulting configuration words can also be viewed in hexadecimal format in the MiniPro window, and those values exactly match the Atmel data sheet. In case of doubt, you can always use this workaround.
Linux software for this programmer is also available at the MiniPro TL866 Community Wiki. Additional information that can be useful for working with this programmer can also be found on the wiki site.

Complete package

Overview of the fuse settings.
As previously mentioned, Atmel and Microchip microcontrollers can also be programmed through the ICSP port of the TL866A. For Microchip the included ICSP cable is fully compatible with the standard PICkit connector, but for the 6-pin or 10-pin Atmel AVR-ISP connector you will have to make your own adapter.
The programmer has a 40-pin DIL ZIF socket and is powered through the included USB cable. The package now available in the Elektor Store comes with six adapters for ICs in PLCC and SO packages, a PLCC component puller, ESD-safe tweezers and an ICSP cable.
To be on the safe side, please heed the following warning: This programmer is very suitable for developing prototypes for hobby use. However, none of the programming algorithms is certified, so for the production of commercial products you should look for a professional certified programmer.
Aside from that, the MiniPro TL866 is highly recommended, particularly considering the price, the features and the included accessories.