Part of the learning experience around the Z80 processor is to get a good understanding of the methods used to program the EEPROM or Flash memory used to drive old style processors. To that end, I have purchased a MicroPro TL866 programmer.
The TL866 is produced in China by the AutoElectric company. There is a web site with extensive information about the product. Many resellers exist on ebay, Amazon or other locations. I purchased mine from an ebay seller.
There are quite a number of reviews on the TL866 on the net. I skipped through the EEVblog video, read the comments, and then placed an order. There may be other alternatives around but this one is very cheap, and will meet my needs (provided it works) for the medium term.
The only choice is to purchase the version with or without the ICSP capability, for Atmel and other chips. For me that wasn’t a consideration, as I have an Atmel ICE already. So I saved my money, and bought the packaging option with multiple adapters for many EEPROM packages.
First thing I did when it arrived was to plug it into my office Windows 10 machine, and test whether it would indeed work with a 64 bit OS. I had some doubt about this, because some of the ebay sellers have not updated their descriptions to match the latest software version (v6.50 as written), which now supports Windows 10.
At home I have repeated the process with another Windows 10 machine. I’m disappointed that the TL866 doesn’t support Ubuntu or but for the small money it cost me, I can keep a second machine nearby.
Argh. I’m reminded that Windows means driver hell. I have to find a prolific PL2303 driver before i can plug in my RC2014 to test that it is working still… And of course, windows needs to be rebooted or whatever… Ok. Well that was a waste of 30 minutes. The PL2303 driver won’t install correctly. I’ll come back to that later.
Let’s test to see if we can read the EEPROM installed and delivered with the RC2014. But first, we need to download the latest version of the minipro_setup.exe program which provides the driver for the TL866.
Having confirmed RC2014 is confirmed working. The EEPROM is an ATMEL AT27C512R. Selecting the chip from the menu is fairly straight forward. You can search for the actual chip, or just browse for the manufacturer, if you’re not sure. There’s an Information button to show you how to insert the chip into the ZIF socket.
The next thing is to test whether the TL866 reads the chip. And, it does that successfully. I’ll save the HEX file, and then clear the chip and save it back again as the next test.
Ok so it programmed the entire chip in 20 seconds, and then verified in 1.5 seconds. Much much faster than a bootloader. Success.
As a final test, in this simple process, I selected the Grant Searle version for the 32k RAM build, to see if another HEX file could be programmed successfully. And, this works too.
So now the next step is to build an environment with C compiler and linker, to allow me to create my own HEX files to load into the RC2014. That might take a few weeks…