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Author Topic: PonyProg: a very simple and quasi universal programmer  (Read 4000 times)
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PeterMcMonty
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« on: December 07, 2014, 11:25:15 23:25 »

Hello everybody,

Recentely I had to read the contents of some I2C serial EEPROMS (24C32) and eventually modify them.
I was going to make my own programmer with a PIC MCU and use something like Hyperterminal to upload and download EEPROM contents, but I did an internet search to see if there is something that fits my needs and I found PonyProg at:

http://www.lancos.com/prog.html

Unfortunately I don't have a RS232 COM port on my PC at work (it is a Lenovo 3000 laptop with WinXP SP3), but just an USB to serial converter from Manhattan mod. 205146 (http://www.manhattan-products.com/usb-to-serial-converter) and it's clearly stated that:
"If you use added COM ports (PCI or PCMCIA cards) you must use "SI-Prog API". Note that USB2RS232 adapters often don't work or are very slow." (see PonyProg documentation, interface setup, SI-Prog interface at http://www.lancos.com/e2p/ponyprog2000.html#s2.6.1).

It's a pity, since for my purpouse the harware could be extremely simple: two connectors, two zener diodes, two resistors. That's all!

So, I decided to download the software and make this very simple interface, just to see what happens.

At the first try I got errors in the I2C communication, as expected, but looking deeper at the documentation I found that the speed is selectable simply by changing a parameter in the ponyprog.ini file, located in the installation directory (see PonyProg documentation, Calibration at http://www.lancos.com/e2p/ponyprog2000.html#s2.6.1) and I tried to change I2C speed from NORMAL to SLOW, then to VERISLOW and finally to ULTRASLOW.

At this point I've been able to read and write my 24C32 EEPROMs and perform my tests.

It's not the top of the speed ( 6 mins and 30" to read 4096 bytes, and almost 15 mins to write them...), but better than nothing!

I tried v2.07c, the last version in download page (http://www.lancos.com/ppwin95.html), then I found a topic in the forum where a new version v2.08c was released (http://ponyprog.sourceforge.net/phorum/read.php?2,2272) and I tried v2.08c with same results.

I tried also v208c_RG100a: PonyProg 2.08c mod by RG (v1.0) that is the same, but with added support for ATmega328P (you can download at http://sonix.szm.com/), but this seems more critical for my purpose, so I reverted to v2.08c.

Here the page with SI-Prog schematics:
http://www.lancos.com/siprogsch.html

Finally, in the included picture you'll find the hardware I used as interface (I decided to supply external power to the EEPROM, mainly because I don't have an LM2936Z-5 in the junk box...).

I know that this is an old project (last update in 2008 or so), but it seems to me a very simple and clever tool that may be very useful, provided you have a real RS232 COM port.
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CocaCola
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2014, 12:24:33 00:24 »

I have always advised anyone that needs a legacy port (serial or parallel) for a DIY or even legacy device (even if your PC has the built in) to get a PCI to legacy port card on Ebay...  They are dirt cheap (under $5) on Ebay delivered to your door from Asia...

I do understand that if you only have a laptop though that isn't really convenient or an option, that is part of the reason I always have a dusty old legacy desktop tucked away...

This recommendation is four fold...

1.  USB to COM adapters are notoriously troublesome or poor performers especially for many DIY projects
2.  Built in motherboard COM ports are notoriously out of spec, you literally can't even depend on the basics like voltage levels to be consistent from my experience
3.  A plug in card provides a buffer (aka fuse) between your project an your PC motherboard
4.  A plug in card just plain works better in almost all cases and avoids a lot of headache, hassle and wasted time

Also on this 'programmer' subject, I used to play with PonyProg many years ago, and I found that eliminating (or drastically shortening) any cables really increased performance...  My programmer at the time actually plugged right into the COM port no cable at all as I found that worked best...  I also found that if I needed to use a cable, that building a short cable using flat ribbon cable with a grounded conductor (grounded both at PC and programmer) between all the signal really helped to isolate any cross talk and worked better than many of the cheap over the counter COM cables I tested...
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PeterMcMonty
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2014, 12:55:45 00:55 »

I totally agreed with you! In fact, when I saw it workin' I've been completely astronished... I would never bet a nickel on it! But Manhattan USB to serial seems to be a good interface (within the limits of such a compromise) and I solved my problem of reading and modifying EEPROM.
Better than nothing!
(P.S.: the USB to serial interface was in my office for other purposes... I used it because it was in my drawer)
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2014, 01:32:38 01:32 »

I see a few topics on using usb to program 24/25 eeproms I thought I bookmarked them.
One was using CP2012 and circuit looked like the ponyprog

another used the CH341A like this @ 2.96 inc postage, maybe even Cheaper.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/EEPROM-BIOS-Flash-CH341A-Series-24-25-USB-Programmer-Writer-with-Software-Driver-/281488987600?pt=UK_BOI_Electrical_Components_Supplies_ET&hash=item418a0d15d0
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PeterMcMonty
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2014, 01:42:06 01:42 »

I saw also this, from Minitools: http://www.eeclip.com/

Posted on: December 08, 2014, 01:39:44 - Automerged

But with PonyProg, few components from the junk box and half an hour of work I solved my problem.
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Sailor
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2014, 02:50:44 02:50 »

I used PonyProg from the early days, but when 'real' (motherboard) parallel ports vanished, I found that the PCI card implementations didn't work for PonyProg. I surrendered and bought a JtagICE II, and never looked back.

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PeterMcMonty
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2014, 10:11:29 22:11 »

hello,

I'm goin'on using PonyProg to read (and sometimes reprogram) my I2C EEPROMs and now I added some simple circuitry to allow EEPROM supply from serial port. I modified the original schematic suggested by the autor, since I don't have the LM2936Z-5.

Instead I use a well known and very simple regulator, made by an NPN transistor, a zener diode and a resistor. The resistor is 5.6 kohm, calculated to feed the 5,6V zener a current around 1,15 mA when the input is +12V.

Actually my USB to serial converter gives levels of about +8V and -8V, nevertheless the regulator is capable to supply the 24C32 EEPROM at 4.8V. That means the zener is regulating around 5.4V and its current is about 464 uA minus the base current of NPN, that should be neglegible.

I include the complete schematic.
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bigtoy
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2014, 05:58:26 05:58 »

Wow, feels like a "blast from the past". I used to use PonyProg a lot, for programming Atmel AVRs, years ago before I graduated to ARM processors. The programmer dongle used a parallel port, which were standard on PCs and laptops back then. It's neat to see this program still has other uses.
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djmaster_tgv
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2015, 09:54:35 09:54 »

I use attached programmer with Ponyprog to read/write EEPROM 24C04, 24C08, 24C32.
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jobitjoseph1
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2015, 04:46:37 16:46 »

If you use usb to serial converter mostly it wont work .. It because of the timing issue.. or you have to make a converter using avr or pic .... Other wise it wont work.. also keep in mind that the isp programmer is not using the exact rs232 protocol..
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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2015, 07:30:40 07:30 »

I have a laptop without RS232 and for above programmer I use a usb to serial converter. It's working, I use this for read and write 24C04 and 24C08.
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flo0319
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2015, 10:57:28 22:57 »

I have a laptop without RS232 and for above programmer I use a usb to serial converter. It's working, I use this for read and write 24C04 and 24C08.


Are you using PonyProg ? can you tell us which usb to serial converter is it. I have used also an usb convert for atmel programming and it was very slow.
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djmaster_tgv
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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2015, 08:27:52 08:27 »

Yes, I use PonyProgYes. It is very slow on reading from eeprom and it's slower when writting. But that's the only RS232 port available for me.

This is the converter:
http://www.aten-usa.com/products/USB-&-FireWire/USB-Converters/USB-to-Serial-Converter~UC232A.html
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PeterMcMonty
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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2015, 05:19:55 17:19 »

Yes, I use PonyProgYes. It is very slow on reading from eeprom and it's slower when writting. But that's the only RS232 port available for me.

This is the converter:
http://www.aten-usa.com/products/USB-&-FireWire/USB-Converters/USB-to-Serial-Converter~UC232A.html

You are right djmaster_tgv! Some usb to serial converters do the job with PonyProg, albeit they are very slow... but better than noting!

Unfortunately I don't have a RS232 COM port on my PC at work (it is a Lenovo 3000 laptop with WinXP SP3), but just an USB to serial converter from Manhattan mod. 205146 (http://www.manhattan-products.com/usb-to-serial-converter) and it's clearly stated that:
"If you use added COM ports (PCI or PCMCIA cards) you must use "SI-Prog API". Note that USB2RS232 adapters often don't work or are very slow." (see PonyProg documentation, interface setup, SI-Prog interface at http://www.lancos.com/e2p/ponyprog2000.html#s2.6.1).
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