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GQ-5X SPI Flash Programmer — Parallax Forums

GQ-5X SPI Flash Programmer

Does anyone here have any experience with the MCUMall GQ-5X SPI Flash Programmer? I need to replace a very aged EETOOLS AllMax programmer and this popped-up on my radar. It looks rather promising but there are no reviews yet. Or is the EETOOLS Topmax 2 (or 3) a better bet?

Thoughts or comments? This will see general duty across a wide cross section of devices.

Comments

  • You obviously have a specific use for it, and perhaps just a single use? I can't imagine why anyone would need this type of programmer anymore except for production, and even then handling TSOP48 manually into a ZIF socket and back into a tray is to be avoided if possible. What's the device and application?
  • Peter: It's a mixed bag. Part of the need is general lab use going forward. A couple of the minions want to clone their old game ROM cartridges. I also have a contract to support some Z80-based hardware that uses 2716/2732/2764 EPROM devices (and have you seen the prices for these? Ye gads!). Finally, I have some 87C552 devices that will need to be supported until 2024.

    The AllMax was a great programmer in its time, but it was slow, talked only via a parallel port, was way EOL, and the Magic Smoke got released in November. So it's time for an upgrade. After 20+ years, I guess I cant complain.
  • I'm always so tempted to make my own universal programmer, and that I have several times in the past from the mid 80's on. I even made one with about 8 different types of ZIF sockets that could program bipolar PROMS, PLDs, EPROMS, etc. Then I purchased a very expensive universal programmer over 20 years ago and while that worked over a serial port, it was never very reliable and of course is rather old hat these days, although it still works (but I have no use for it).

    Any hardware that uses hard to get parts that are easy to replicate with modern parts are parts that I would replicate/emulate. I would simply use a small 5V micro with enough I/O and memory to emulate these parts and these micros typically cost around $1 and you can "program" them from a serial port. Just mount the micro on a small pcb with a machine-pin socket smd soldered to the bottom of it for the pins for a beautiful plug-in fit. The micro can be on the underside too and you can print a label that looks like an EPROM :) You may dismiss this as "too much trouble" but it is dead easy and the cycle time of a micro emulating a parallel EPROM is more than fast enough to make it appear as a very fast EPROM. Ask me for a circuit and code if you like.

    I used to use 87C552 devices as well and IIRC they are OTP in the normal production PLCC pack. I'm not advocating emulating this part though, although I am sure it could be done (it's impossible!). But generating 13V or so and programming an EPROM or device is a simple matter for almost any micro and only a few lines of Forth code :)

    The reason I advocate a custom circuit is simply because I can customize it for production and it becomes super-simple to press this button or that button to program a specific device and all the production images are stored on that programmer itself. I can record each device and program serial numbers and timestamps with each device programmed. No need for tethering during programming operations, only for loading in new images which could just as easily be on microSD anyway. This too I have done for production. It is always worth it.
  • JRoarkJRoark Posts: 669
    edited 2021-01-18 02:54
    All good points, but the reason this hardware is kept in place is precisely because it isnt reprogrammable. These are 90’s era Wiegand and BaFe card reader panels running 27xx ROMs. And the client is paranoid. So while your technical solution would be ideal, the customer wouldnt be amused. :)

    Hey: here is a blast from the past for you: *reprogrammable* 87C552s! See the pic. Last time I could even get these they were $400 each. I found 64 of them for sale by accident a few years back and the customer bought them sight unseen. This is the only reprogrammable part they will allow (different firmware versions for different locations) and that took an act of God and 4 years to get a waiver.

    (Edit: There are still lots of $20 non-reprogrammables out there, but any second source stuff, EBay, Amazon, offshore, etc, are not acceptable for this client. It must be primary source, NOS, USA-only).
  • Point well taken but you know that micros can be locked down solid don't you? At some point "procuring" replacement parts becomes a problem not just because of the expense and trouble, but because of the validity of the parts that may have been pulls from an old Soviet guidance computer salvaged from the shallow bottom of the Aral Sea, or a complete new but fake chip because of the $$$ involved in sourcing these old parts.
  • kwinnkwinn Posts: 8,684
    JRoark wrote: »
    Peter: It's a mixed bag. Part of the need is general lab use going forward. A couple of the minions want to clone their old game ROM cartridges. I also have a contract to support some Z80-based hardware that uses 2716/2732/2764 EPROM devices (and have you seen the prices for these? Ye gads!). Finally, I have some 87C552 devices that will need to be supported until 2024.

    The AllMax was a great programmer in its time, but it was slow, talked only via a parallel port, was way EOL, and the Magic Smoke got released in November. So it's time for an upgrade. After 20+ years, I guess I cant complain.

    @JRoark, I have some eproms and eeproms that I no longer need now that I have retired. I would be happy to send them to you if you are interested. Most or all of them are programmed so will need to be erased. See the attached picture for a list of the parts list. Send me a PM with your address if you want them.
    926 x 435 - 90K
  • @kwinn You are a gentleman and a scholar! Thank you! PM enroute!
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