Program a standalone arduino

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Occasionally I get this question from the arduino forum: “How do I program a stand-alone arduino? (atmega328 chip with arduino bootloader)”. I have a few ways to do this:

1) Buy a USB-TTL converter and make sure your standalone has headers on GND/5V/Tx/Rx/Reset. Use the adapter to program or communicate with the standalone. This will cost you anywhere between $6 and $20, depending on where you get your adapter and whether it automatically resets the arduino for programming. If it doesn’t, you need to hit upload, then once the bytes information is displayed in Arduino IDE, hit the reset on the standalone to receive programming. The following one is sold at for $15.

2) This option is free. Use an arduino board, remove its atmega328 chip. Then also make sure your standalone has headers on GND/5V/Tx/Rx/Reset. Then use jumper wires to connect the arduino board to your standalone and you’re good to go. You will have to have an arduino board all the time.

3) If neither 1 or 2 apply to you, say you don’t have headers on GND/5V/Tx/Rx/Reset but your standalone is sitting inside a socket. Remove the standalone chip and insert it into an arduino board to program. This is ideal if you want to program a bunch of chips before you start. It will be benefitial to have a ZIF socket. You can effortlessly mount and unmount the chips.

7 Responses to Program a standalone arduino

  1. james says:

    i like it

  2. Nice blog.

    I notice in your stand alone post you say “hit reset”. If you want auto-reset you can to put a .1uF capacitor between the FTDI’s DTR pin and the reset pin. You should be able to then upload without pressing the reset button.

    • liudr says:


      Thanks. My stand alone system has brought out the reset pin to a connector but my cheap USB-TTL converter has no DTR line. The converter that sparkfun sells has an FTDI chip, same as the one integrated on Arduinos so yes if you have one of these converters, you can have the converter do the reset. 🙂

  3. katie says:

    sign me up

  4. tadermitano says:

    I have a generic USB-serial cable that ends with a male D9 shell. I have been trying to use this to program Tom Igoe’s breadboard arduino (the one using a 7404 hex inverter) with an Atmel 168 loaded with a Diecimila bootloader. The serial monitor works, but I can’t load sketches. The Arduino IDE says confirmation check codes are wrong. Anybody have an idea what I’m doing wrong? The USB-serial cable usually shows up in Win XP as Port 15 or 16.

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