Tiny AVR Programmer Hookup Guide

Contributors: jimblom
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Arduino is awesome. The boards are solid, the programming language and IDE are easy, and the community is awesome. But for a lot of electronics projects, an Arduino is overkill. If you're just blinking a few LEDs, and reading a single sensor, you can get the job done smaller and cheaper using a simple IC, like the ATtiny85.

AVR 8 Pin 20MHz 8K 4A/D - ATtiny85

AVR 8 Pin 20MHz 8K 4A/D - ATtiny85


Our hero! The ATtiny85.

Unfortunately, the ATtiny85 doesn't have a well-known, ubiquitous development platform like Arduino's Uno or Leonardo. And 8kB of program space doesn't leave much room for a bootloader, so an extra programmer is usually required. On top of that, standard Arduino doesn't support the chip. That doesn't mean programming the ATtiny85 in Arduino isn't possible, though! Enter the Tiny AVR Programmer...

Tiny AVR Programmer

Tiny AVR Programmer


The Tiny AVR Programmer is a general AVR programmer, but it's specifically designed to allow quick-and-easy programming of ATtiny85's (as well as 45's) compared to the pocket AVR programmer. It has an on-board socket, where the little 8-pin IC can be plugged in and directly programmed. No messy wires or soldering required! Once you've programmed the ATtiny85, just remove it from the Programmer, and stick it into a breadboard or prototyping board.

The Tiny AVR Programmer can also be used as a general purpose AVR programmer. It can directly program almost all AVR's (including the ATmega328 and ATmega32U4) whether they're on Arduino boards or in a breadboard.

Covered In This Tutorial

In this hookup guide, we'll show how you can program ATtiny85's using the Tiny AVR Programmer and Arduino. We'll cover everything from driver installation to Arduino programming tips.

Required Materials

In addition to the Tiny AVR Programmer, you'll also need the following items to follow along with this tutorial:

  • ATtiny85 -- To be programmed by the programmer. Remember, you can also use this to flash other AVR chips like the ATtiny84!
  • A computer or laptop with:
  • Optional:
    • USB Extension Cable -- If your USB port is out of reach, this may help make the Programmer easier to reach.
    • IC Test Clip - SOIC 8-Pin -- If you are using a surface mount ATtiny, this handy dandy little clip makes it easy to program the microcontroller!
    • Jumper Wires Premium M/F -- Useful if you are connecting the Tiny AVR Programmer to another AVR microcontroller that is not the ATtiny85 or the IC Test Clip.

Suggested Reading

Installing Arduino IDE

A step-by-step guide to installing and testing the Arduino software on Windows, Mac, and Linux.


An introduction to polarity in electronic components. Discover what polarity is, which parts have it, and how to identify it.

Integrated Circuits

An introduction to integrated circuits (ICs). Electronics' ubiquitous black chips. Includes a focus on the variety of IC packages.