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Clonix via USB
Message #1 Posted by PeterP on 22 Mar 2008, 12:50 a.m.

Hi, in my quest to keep all the great hardware developments that the are being brought to live usable with the ever changing PC's, I am now also trying to program the Clonix via a USB port.

I have downloaded the latest version of the IC-Prog program and that solved some 'illegal instruction' problems, yet I am still stuck at some basic problems. As will be glaringly obvious in the a second, I'm a hopeless amateur that is driven by enthusiasm way out of his knowledge zone. Oh well, there is always something to be said for enthusiasm...

In the (most likely case) that someone has already solved this little problem, it would be great to get some pointers to a couple of questions that I am currently wrestling with and was not able to find hints via the usually trusty google venue.

Here it goes:

1) The programmer to select in the IC-Prog program is the Pic 2 Programmer, right? Unfortunately in my version of the IC-Prog, I can not select any port (neither LPT nor COM...) but I could for say JDM Programmer. Just want to make sure I am selecting the right one - Pic 2 Programmer (under settings-hardware or F3) (I assume that the problem here is some IRQ conflict from my USB-rs232 interface that does not tell a correct com port to IC-Prog but I want to make sure that I am not botching this already earlier)

2) The red LED on the programmer from Diego, where the Clonix module is attached to for programing - is it supposed to glow during the writing process? Or at any other point in time?

3) Is there a good way to check if the signals from the IC-Prog are hitting the Programmer (DMM at hand, potentially even an Osci...)

4) Did you ever had any luck with using the programmer via a USB interface?

5) Is the Clonix6p version software still valid for the first batch of Clonix modules from a few years back (I think I have one from the first batches..)

Thanks so much for any kind help and advice!



Re: Clonix via USB
Message #2 Posted by Diego Diaz on 22 Mar 2008, 12:03 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by PeterP

Hi there Peter!

Glad to know from you again... and sorry about your troubles, let's remember some facts regarding the Clonix progamming process:

- You have to set JDM programmer at [Settings]>[Hardware]

- Using a *real* RS-232 with JDM programmer is mandatory ... USB <> RS232 adapters/dongles won't do the job.

- Yes, the LED should lite during programming.

- You can check voltages (DMM) and timing (Osci) at programmer's pins but I think there's no need for that.

- While in XP (or Win2000 for that matter) you need the ICPROG.SYS file in your IC-Prog directory *and* check the "Enable NR/2000/XP Driver" under [Settings]>[Options]>[Misc]

Certainly RS-232 are becoming scarcy, they were commonplace as of mid '02 when I developed the Clonix, and RS-232 programmers were far more expensive than their USB counterpart.

In case you can by no means get access to a real RS-232 port, please let me know and will seek for a suitable USB PIC programmer, They're still more expensive than RS-232 ones but fortunatelly cheaper than six years ago.

I'll also send this reply to MoHPC so others can be aware of the subject.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes from TCI to NYC.


Re: Clonix via USB
Message #3 Posted by Egan Ford on 22 Mar 2008, 1:09 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by Diego Diaz

- Using a *real* RS-232 with JDM programmer is mandatory ... USB <> RS232 adapters/dongles won't do the job.
Is a PCMCIA/PCCARD RS232, real enough? It should be. Has anyone tested it?
Re: Clonix via USB
Message #4 Posted by Diego Diaz on 22 Mar 2008, 8:44 p.m.,
in response to message #3 by Egan Ford

Hi Egan,

Supposedly it should work as it interfaces directly with the PC internal bus, thus I/O addressing and timing is the same as if it was an embedded (or RS-232 board) serial interface.

The main question here would be if the voltages in that type of cards will rise above the +/- 6v. that the serial programmer requires for proper operation.

Remember that even those laptops originally equiped with serial ports, rarely cope with the programming task due to the weakness of the voltages they work with. (usually in the ranage +/-3 to +/- 5v.)

However I still have to get an Express/34 card<>RS-232 to test with my laptop, but they're scarcy too...



Re: Clonix via USB
Message #5 Posted by PeterP on 22 Mar 2008, 10:29 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by Diego Diaz


Thanks for your quick, kind and exhaustive response to my question! Based on that info I did some more research to educate myself better. As you mention in your response to Egan, the main problem is that some cheap RS232 interfaces on modern laptops as well as USB don't provide the full Voltage required for the programmers. I found this document (click to open link) that describes the problems with USB-rs232 converters quite well I believe. They also mention that certain USB-rs232 converters actually do provide the necessary power (one they mention from MCI can be found here (click to open link) for 24 USD. They also provide a simple dongle here(click to open link) that is based on the same chip from FTDI.

Based on some other reading, it seems that FTDI chips are the best ones / only ones to provide full power via USB. The data-sheet for the one used in the above products can be found here(click to open link) yet after reading it I am not too convinced that it will actually work. I'll see if I can get my hands on a 'sample' or something and try it out. It will be a couple of weeks but I will report here any findings.

In the meantime I went looking for a USB powered PIC programmer and did find that the rs232 ones are much cheaper!! (the cheapest one I found which could I believe be used to program the Clonix module was $4.50!!! and promised to be able to deal with the cheaper laptop Rs232 interfaces as well (Enhanced JDM2 Programmer with Zilc. it can be found here(click to open link)

I was less lucky in finding a suitable USB powered programmer, although there are some designs floating around some boards for a USB powered JDM converted. And in any case they were much more expensive (around $50+, for example this one.(click to open link)) ) and sometimes still needed an external power-supply, which is not practical. (for example this one(click to open link) )

If it were at all possible for you to point me towards a working USB-pic programmer, i'd be very grateful. I am trying to create a mobile HP-41/71 working environment which is based around my Laptop so it would be great to have a way to program Clonix/NoVram on the go. (this is also the reason for trying to find a way to use HP-IL over USB)

Anyway, thanks again for your kind help



Re: Clonix via USB
Message #6 Posted by Marcus von Cube, Germany on 23 Mar 2008, 3:38 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by PeterP


it is not just a question of power, whether a programmer works with RS232 over USB. The cheap designs abuse the RS232 control pins (RTS, DTR) by directly accessing the registers of the serial I/O chip. This is simply impossible on a USB-RS232 dongle.

What you need is either a PC Card that not only emulates PC hardware on the operating system level but IS PC hardware on the port level AND suplies enough power to the programmer. Or get a standalone programmer which uses RS232 or USB for data transfer only and does all the programming alone.

Re: Clonix via USB
Message #7 Posted by PeterP on 23 Mar 2008, 12:50 p.m.,
in response to message #6 by Marcus von Cube, Germany

thanks marcus, that makes a lot of sense. I was not aware that we might have two 'cheap designs' one for the rs232 and one for the programmer. Though I could have deducted that from the 4.5$ price... Do you know of any USB pic programmer that is reasonably priced that can be used for the clonix?

Thanks again and Frohe Ostern!!



Re: Clonix via USB
Message #8 Posted by Marcus von Cube, Germany on 23 Mar 2008, 12:58 p.m.,
in response to message #7 by PeterP

Frohe Ostern, Peter!

No, you will have to look for a USB based PIC prgrammer for yourself.


Re: Clonix via USB
Message #9 Posted by Diego Diaz on 23 Mar 2008, 12:57 p.m.,
in response to message #6 by Marcus von Cube, Germany

Hi Peter,

Sorry not being more specific in my previous post, but my references to the low voltage issue on laptops and/or PCMCIA/Express Cards has nothing to do with the USB<>RS-232 issue.

As Marcus has pointed out, the trouble with these devices is inherent to the way by wich JDM (and other serial programmers) obtain the different levels of Vpp and Vcc (programming and supply voltages) and there is *no* practical way to make them work with a USB<>RS-232 converter.

Please accept my apologies as it seems I've pushed you towards an extensive research thru the i'net. It was not my intention to make you lose your time...

In short:

-USB<>RS-232 adapters/dongles will not work (regardles the voltage they can handle)

-PCMCIA/Express card -> RS-232 may work provided they supply more than +/- 6v. (I have not tested yet, but I'm affraid they more likely won't go over the 5v. mark... :(

-Serial ports embedded into laptops don't work either (I've found some few exceptions though)

-Desktop serial (MB embedded or plug-in card) will work.

-Real USB programmers will also work... obviously the programming software they use is not IC-Prog, but this shouldn't be a major issue (should it?)... I've found a "reasonably" cheap one (about $50) that may be of interest, as it can also handle the new PIC I'm planning to use within the NoV-64. I'll buy one and let you know about its performance.

Hope this helps.

Cheers from Spain.


Re: Clonix via USB
Message #10 Posted by PeterP on 23 Mar 2008, 1:31 p.m.,
in response to message #9 by Diego Diaz

No worries Diego, as usual, I learned a lot during this search and that is always of great pleasure to me!

Thanks for the clarification, I look forward to hearing your accord about the USB PIC programmer. (Pls also check your email...)



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