I’ve gotten quite a few inquiries about how to re-program the HackMe Rockit once you get it. It’s not difficult. Figuring out how to change the code to get it to do what you’d like is a far larger challenge. But, I’ll tell you how I do it and mention some available programmers.
The HackMe Rockit has headers, or pins, to which you connect a programmer. The Rockit uses the AVR In-System Programming pins. I’ve provided JTAG, an older programming protocol, as an option, but it uses more pins, which makes it less usable on a built design that is using those pins for other purposes. The image above shows what the cable looks like. You don’t have to worry about what each pin is doing to use it. Basically, you’ll plug this in and, using software that comes with your programmer, or which you download, like WinAVR, tell it to program it. It happens like magic and everything can change.
What I use: Atmel STK-600
I use the Atmel STK-600. This board is more than a programmer. It’s a development board. You can put your microcontroller in a fixture. The fixture makes connections between all the pins and the headers so you can connect it to your breadboard. I used this heavily in the early days of development before I designed a pcb. Now, I use it as a programmer exclusively. When I get to the end and start to ship these things, I’ll use it to program the microcontrollers that ship with the kit. This is overkill for the average Rockit reprogrammer. It’s big and bulky and needs a wall-wart to do anything useful. If you do really want to make your own things from scratch though, it’s pretty nifty. It has provisions for spending even more money and getting an in-circuit emulator so you can debug your programs while they run.
I use AVR Studio to do my work, as I’ve mentioned before, but many people use AVRDude which is a free program for those opposed to Windows.
What should you use?
This little programmer looks like a sweet deal. (Disclaimer: I haven’t actually used it.) For $14.95, this does the fundamental programming that the honking STK-600 does, for less than 10% the cost. You can use it with AVRDude for all your Rockit programming needs. There are others like the USBTinyISP, the AVR Dragon, and the AVR ISP2. You can do some searching and reading to find the one that’s right for you. Rockit doesn’t care. It just wants you to rock it.