Getting a fresh ATmega168 to work w/ Arduino

Hey guys, I got myself a fresh ATmega168 stand alone, and I'm wondering what steps I need to take to get it to work with my Arduino. From what I can garner I need to burn the bootloader on to it? Can I do this through the Arduino IDE? Any pitfalls I should watch out for? Anything else I need to do other than burn the bootloader? Thanks and merry Christmas!

Are you going to be using the new ATmega168 in an Arduino board? If so, then, yes, all you should need to do is burn the bootloader. You can do it from within the Arduino IDE, but you'll need a hardware programmer (like an AVRISP mkII or a USBtinyISP).

Why does it have to be done with a hardware programmer? Where can I get a hardware programmer? Can I make one myself? Can it be done through the USB cable? I don't have a serial or parallel connection on my laptop. Thanks for the answers to my endless questions!


This is why we pre-burn the bootloader on the chips that come with Arduino boards. Without a bootloader, a hardware programmer is the only way to get a program onto a chip. You can use an AVRISP mkII; here's a list of distributors (courtesy of Octopart). Or you can get an USBtinyISP from adafruit. Or you can buy chips with the bootloader already on them: from adafruit, from Modern Device, from PCB Europe, etc. (If you had a parallel port, you could make a parallel port programmer.)

Thanks! That's everything I was hoping to know!