ISPtouch – header-less ISP connector for AVRs

Posted on Monday, December 10th, 2012 in DIY by DP

Tired of headers for programming? Here’s a header-less ISP connector for AVR microcontrollers. It’s based on the AVX 9188 Staggered SOLO Stacker connector, which is spring loaded. You simply line up your connector withe the guide holes and press down to program.

Via the comments.

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15 Responses to “ISPtouch – header-less ISP connector for AVRs”

  1. Nial Pearce says:

    Now that’s a handy bit of kit!

  2. Brent says:

    Handy but takes up too much board real-estate. I use holes spaced 50mil apart and make up a small pogopin adapter to program. You can even just use a 50mil pin header and stick it in and apply side pressure too.

  3. Paul Campbell says:

    I really like Tag Connect connectors ( – they’re a 6 or 10 pin connector with embedded pogo pins, unlike this one they’re keyed so you can’t put them in backwards you can choose the version with or without locking pins (uses slightly more board space – better if you’re doing lots of development rather than just OTP) – the down side is that they are $30 each

  4. Paul Campbell says:

    the tag? yes I believe so (or so their web site says)

  5. eff zog says:

    looking at the profile of the ribbon cable connector I don’t see how this is smaller or better than a standard 2.54mm header block.

    • Sleepwalker3 says:

      @eff zog – with these there is no header, just tracks on the PCB, so there is no height taken up when the connector is not connected (i.e. when you’re not programming or debugging) – good if you need a low profile board. The unit you see above is pushed down onto the main board pads, it’s not that little tiny board soldered to the PCB, so it’s similar to an old fashioned edge connector in some respects.

      Tag Connect types, while they are nice, they aren’t really much different in size to what an edge connector would be because of the large holes for the latches, the only real advantage is that they don’t have to be placed on the edge of a board.

      Old fashioned edge connectors were cheap and for the most part pretty reliable, could be made polarised by a key slot and newer models were much smaller than their older counterparts. They would still be useful for many applications today, but seem to have fallen out of favour for the most part. One area you see them making a comeback is USB Dev boards that plug straight into USB sockets, but without using a USB plug – the PCB itself becomes the plug. But in many case the PCB isn’t thick enough for the socket, so that particular case isn’t ideal.

  6. Matseng says:

    The PCB part of the ISPtouch can be seen on my KimCard where I combined the footprint with a four pin 0.1″ header for permanent connections to my AVR Dragon for lengthy debugging sessions during development.

  7. Drone says:

    I must be missing something here. This push-down spring loaded header will use the same/similar board space as a simple 0.1″ header. So what’s the benefit? My AVR Dragon with a 0.1″ header works just fine. And I don’t even want to get into the possibility of introducing connection noise with this thing, especially if you have HVSP fuse programming capability (Dragon does this).

    So I have to use some programmer application with one hand pushing this thing on the board with only one hand left to deal with the application?

    • AJ says:

      The main point is not to save space, it’s that there is no part placed on the board for programming.

      This is a big deal for volume manufacturing (you have to pay for the header, and pay to place it…).

      Additionally, the pads can be on the non-component side of the PCB so the space that they take up can be less intrusive, and they are compatible with automated test equipment for on-line programming in a high-volume manufacturing environment.

      Not such a big deal for low-volume parts, but it still saves the cost of the programming header…

      • David says:

        But anyone doing high volume manufacturing already has a bed-of-nails test jig that will not only test the board in conjunction with a JTAG boundry scan but program the board as well. Still don’t get it…

      • AJ says:

        True. However, you often still need to retain the ability to rework firmware after production. Depending on the type of equipment you’re talking about a connector like this can turn that from a nightmare into a simple operation.

        A bed-of-nails ICT tester is only really useful for bare boards. If the boards are tested and flashed before depanelling it can be impossible to put them back through the ICT machine – e.g. if the fixture is designed for a 5-up panel, once those boards have been depanelled they will no longer fit the test plate.

        Certainly this is what my company uses these types of connectors for on products that are produced in large numbers…

  8. Paul Campbell says:

    yes this is the important thing – space – at work we don’t use the version of the tag connector with the larger holes for clips – instead we molded a slot for it in a plastic housing – mostly though this is the connector to use both for jtag/debug, AND during manufacturing to do that first firmware load

  9. Paul Campbell says:

    yes this is the important thing – space and cost – at work we don’t use the version of the tag connector with the larger holes for clips – instead we molded a slot for it in a plastic housing – mostly though this is the connector to use both for jtag/debug, AND during manufacturing to do that first firmware load

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