It’s finally happened – the computers are cloning themselves! In only 7 seconds, a new Arduino is born, and a hacker is armed with another tool! Is this the end of the world… or a new beginning? Well, it might not be the singularity, but this automatic Optiboot replication machine is an absolute must-have tool for those working with Arduino, especially outside of a standard Arduino board.
Just like the original Arduino Uno, insert an ATMEGA328p into the ZIF socket, provide power, press the button and… voilá! Another Arduino is born. It can then be programmed from the Arduino IDE using any USB-to-serial cable, or inserted into any of the Arduino boards that accept through-hole ATMEGA328p.
We’ve all accidentally borked our bootloaders, or wiped the chip to use with Atmel Studio and then later needed to reflash the bootloader. This usually requires two Arduinos, or an Arduino and an Atmel programmer of some kind. But this cuts out the middleman, so to speak, and would be a great tool to have on hand at a hackerspace.
Because it uses a zero insertion force socket and is self-contained (only requiring USB power), it also is super useful for small production runs that use Arduino and Optiboot. Pop the chips in one at a time, and then pop them into a socket on the final board. Programming the firmware can then easily be done over USB or serial. The creator, UniversalSolder, use two of these programmers to create about 5000 Arduino chips a year! Now that’s a tried and tested tool!