I picked up a CH341A SPI programmer to help reflash bios chips on dead PCs / Macbooks however I am finding it fairly unreliable.
I would like to thank everyone for the feedback on this post as it has proven very valuable: [GUIDE] Flash BIOS with CH341A programmer
While I totally understand that “you get what you pay for” and I really cannot complain about the price I paid (I think it was around $10 AUD) I would like something a bit better and reliable - I understand that the CH341A can’t supply enough power sometimes to read the chip and some of the additional connectors got a bit bent during shipping with mine - I just find it very “clunky” overall and it sometimes takes quite a lot of attempts to get everything to align properly.
Does anybody have any recommendations for a good quality SPI programmer and/or SOIC Clip that’s more reliable in detecting soldered on chips (without desoldering them)
@1234s282 - Only user error or familiarity (lack of) makes it any better/worse/different than a $3000 programmer. A more expensive clip would improve your enjoyment of using CH341A, such as a Pomona SOIC8 clip, but then you have to purchase and use a bunch of unbundled DuPont cables (yes, you could bundle them up yourself, or sleeve etc)
Program alignment/connection will always be an issue, those legs are TINY and not meant for use to connect to in this way. So the only thing that will improve any of that is a better clip, but even with this you’ll still sometimes have to wrestle things a little bit
Power thing you mention is not related to the programmer, CH341A provides plenty of power, some boards need main power connected some do not, some can’t have main power connected and some cane, all are different.
Here’s cheap shipped slow bundle of all the good ones from Pomona ($16.80 OBO) - https://www.ebay.com/itm/113325523365
Here is CPT-063 AKA 5250 - not shipped from China (This SOIC8 only = $24.68) - https://www.ebay.com/itm/192771960799
See also (or Amazon) >> https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/e…-1311-ND/745102
https://www.pomonaelectronics.com/produc…soic-clip-8-pin << Distributer list there
From China with cables (China style cable = $16.88) - https://www.ebay.com/itm/192771960799
If you get one without cables, you need DuPont cables Female to Male (often best/cheaper to get a large bundle of 40-120 of all three types)
Make sure you get them long enough, these usually start in very short lenght listings (even 20CM is very short) it may take you a while to find good length at a good price
Thank you so much for a detailed response I shall continue looking into this and shall most likely invest in the better clip
You’re welcome! There is other programmers out there, some cost $20-30, some $60-300, others do actually cost $3,000
But for what we do, the $2.50 is just as good as a $20-30 one, maybe a little slower but basically same/same, other than if you have a better clip or use different software (which CH341A can use many different softwares)
Some of the $20-30 kits are called EZP2010 or EZP2013, etc (not sure what all years are possible, but I do see 2019).
Other more expensive common ones, Nano USB Programmer (ebay, this what I use most often), FlashCat, TL866/TL866A/TL866II/TL866CS etc (there is many variants)
$5,000-7,000 (One, price is so high they wont even show it on paper, call for quote )
Xeltek has a few $400-800 ones here
@Lost_N_BIOS : Do you have any experience with these Pomona clips? If so- did you order in China or from US?
Otherwise: Next step ‘better’/ more expensive would be for example an TL866 plus programmer. But when working with chips still soldered onto a board the program almost always complains about short sirciuts- and denies to work. CH341 has in these cases the ‘programming’ light on already when connected to the chip, but does work/ program without problems (or at least wothout complaining) using ASprogrammer 1.4. Most problems rise from a bad clip- and that’s one of the disadvantages of a CH341- there’s no connection check
@lfb6 - No, I’ve not used these yet, only giving info based on others comments/experience with them, I do plan to get a set sometime. They all come from China, only difference is price you pay and waiting time vs shipping from close to you or China.
Yes, if clip is shorting it’s shorting, doesn’t matter what clip you have, remove it quickly as you notice and try again. What software you use in these instances isn’t going to matter at all, a short is a short, nothing can be read or written when it’s shorted
Connection check with CH341A and clip is simple, bad connection you can’t ID chip, this is OK and not shorted. Keep trying, reclip again until you get it.
This is not a short, and should not get a short error with any software, CH341A type or TL866 etc, if your Tl866 gives you short error here that is bad programming, misleading etc, time to upgrade to their new versions and hopefully those have better software?
With a short you will loose USB port, message on screen or port dropped etc. When this happens it can blow fuse on programmer or board too, be careful. Usually here red LED will go out on programmer, chip and or programmer can get hot instantly too, always remove this short as soon as you notice!
Both of the above can happen with any clip, cheap or expensive, it’s just something you have to deal with when doing this kind of recovery. Some boards will need main power connected (24+8 or PSU/Main Battery if laptop), some will be fine without, all depends on board design
TL866A/CS shows short circuit error, sometimes when in circuit, because it cannot supply enough current to power the circuit parallel to the SPI chip.
It happened to me almost every time i tried to use clips.
Real short- cicuit- USB device disappears, CH341 getting hot
Too much current drawn- USB device still OK, Chip not hot, activity led ‘on’ even idle/ just connected to the chip on board, CH341 programmer reading and writing
The only Bios programmer,
with which I can program really every Bios
is Revelprog IS