The Nibbler 4-Bit CPU Project – Flashing The ROMs

Tl866a-flash-hardwareThere we go, soldering the Nibbler circuit board is almost complete. One thing I've never done before, however, is to flash ROM chips, which is required for the two Microcode ROMs and the program ROM. In other words, that part is black magic tor me. But even black magic can be tackled given the right equipment.

In my case I bought a TL866A Flash programmer which seems to flash pretty much every Flash and EPROM on the planet. Having ordered it at a store in Germany it cost me around 90 euros. Yes, I know, it can be had for much less via eBay straight out of Hong Kong, but I wanted to have it quick and hassle free. I expected some major hardware Vodoo before the microcode and programs would end up in the ROM chips but the whole process was surprisingly hassle free. Selecting the IC type, selecting the ".bin" binary file to be flashed which just has to be the same size or smaller than what the Flash or ROM chip can handle and then pressing the "Program" button and the job was done in 10 seconds per IC. The software also lets one read the IC to verify afterward if program has actually ended up on it.

Flash-programmer-screenshotEverything looks good now, my 3 ICs are programmed so I'm ready to go. The two images on the left show the TL866A Flash programmer connected to the PC and a screenshot of the software. Obviously I immediately got comments from friends pointing out that I've strayed from my "Linux-only" on the desktop at home approach. Agreed, a small "OS sin" on my part but since it was my first time I didn't want to start using the hardware via Windows in a virtual machine. Now that I know how things work, I'm pretty confident that that would work as well, so the "OS sin" would at least be jailed in a virtual machine 🙂