Sunday, January 12, 2020

K150 Ebay PIC Programmer for $7. And how to get it working under Windows 10. Prolific

First, the chip that gives the problem is the Prolific PL 2303HXA. It's a USB to serial.

Windows 10 will install drivers when you plug it in but they don't work. You'll see a message in device manager about contacting your supplier.

(I may experiment here a bit later with drivers...update to come...but it may be academic. I just like to have official drivers when possible.)

So a bit of backstory:

Supposedly this chip is End of Life and 'not supported'. Or another story is Prolific wrote their drivers so counterfeit chips won't work. But others have surmised that even older devices from reputable vendors are also rendered inoperative on OS versions they are supposed to work in.

So he said, she said.

There are good directions and a download for drivers from before Prolific broke them here:

The way *I* installed it is plugged it in and went thru Device Manager and did a driver 'Update' but I clicked on the option to select the driver myself from the directory I extracted the above ZIP file to.

Windows did not complain and AVG did not see any threats.

Here's a video explaining  how to get it to work. One major thing is I don't think the software appears to work until you do an operation on the PIC in the socket. It will do read/write/verify but the software always complains that it can't communicate with the board.

I'd be really ticked if I'd spend the $59 original price with that level of software quality...

The software the video shows is at the top of this page:

...which was a bit tricky to find.

ALSO. Apparently there are different versions of for the firmware the PIC on the programmer uses. The longest DIP on the board is a 16F628, and that holds the firmware. The software has to match.

So if you want to update the firmware, you have to install a new PIC. So if it's soldered in, FUN.

Still wondering why these are $7?

Anyway, you're doing this for fun right?

Here's the one I bought on Ebay.

Did I help collect all the info you're looking for in one spot? Buy me a cup of coffee on the Ebay link on the right.

To do:
Verify that mine works and note the firmware. I'm waiting on PICs to arrive. As I said, it won't do anything until a PIC is put in the ZIF socket, apparently.

Misc Notes:
There are 3D printable cases on Thingiverse, and the one I tried was KINDA close. Took a little cutting and I just taped it closed. YMMV. Better than nothing.

Prolific has a CheckChipVersion.exe program that could talk to the chip once I got the drivers installed and it did tell me the chip I have was a PL2303HXA. I don't know if it's a 'real' one or not.

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