Arduino ATTiny Programmer Shield

As part of the process of building a VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) filament driver, I use an ATTINY to generate a square wave signal. I program these chips using an Arduino Uno used as a programmer through the “Arduino as ISP” sketch.

This process is painfully slow. Every time you need to change your code you have to fiddle with jumper cables and breadboard; as per the schematics below:

Arduino as ISP programmer. Source:
Arduino as ISP programmer. Source:


This is a very frustrating experience so I thought: this is perfect for a shield! And so I came out with this design:

In addition to fitting nicely on a Uno form factor, this shield as additional features:

  • Switch between 5V and 3.3V using a simple jumper.
  • ICSP header break out.
  • All the Attiny pins available through PCB headers.
  • A 2nd DIP8 area for prototyping or plugging in a SOIC to DIP adapter.

I ordered the PCB from OSH Park on August 24, and received it on September 4th. 8 business days turnover including shipping to the other side of the world! I am well impressed with the service!

As it is going to be mainly used for SOIC packages, it was critical for me to have DIP8 female headers, so I can plug in an adapter:

And there you have it! One less problem!


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