GunProg - the GPL Universal Programmer




Why and how the GunProg project was started

The original intention was to make a universal programmer, ie. the hardware, which could program any chip. Software was obviously required to support this, but the hardware was the original intention.

Programmer hardware which supports any chip already exists - there are many of these available commercially. These beasts are expensive though, most still have DOS front ends, and there's no guarantee that they'll be kept up-to-date with new devices. The plan was to design some hardware which could be home-brewed relatively cheaply (I was aiming at sub-100 for a 40-pin programmer, compared to commercial ones which start at 300 and go up from there), and then produce some open-source software which would control it, so anyone could add support for whatever devices they wanted just by writing a DLL.

I worked on the hardware for a year, on and off (more off than on, to be honest - maybe 6 months of a few evenings went into it). I got a lot of stuff worked out, but found that I really needed a bit of a rethink. So I thought I'd get going on the software instead. The software to talk to this was obviously needed anyway, so I'd have some code ready to talk to the hardware when I went back to doing the hardware.

Feature creep, and the GunFire project starts

As is the way with open-source software, I soon realised there were other applications for this code which I could also cover. I could make this software drive more than just the GunProg hardware. This conflicted with the aims of the GunProg project, so I decided that the logical solution was to split the project in two. GunProg would become a project to develop the programmer hardware only, and the new project, called "GunFire", would become a project to develop a program which would support any chip programmer.

Naturally, GunProg will be using the GunFire software to support the programmer hardware when both the software and hardware are completed.

Current status

Currently the GunProg project is on hold whilst I get GunFire done to a reasonable point. My intention is to get the alpha of GunFire complete and released, and then see what I fancy doing next - this will probably around Easter.

This has given me some breathing space in which to think about the GunProg design. I've got quite a few ideas now to work with, so I should be in a position to produce something better than my last design.