I posted this in another area of the forum before I saw this area, which is probably a more proper location for the post.
I recently purchased 5 Chinese eMakeFun Nano clones with the CH340 USB chip for the purpose of trying to learn how to transition from the Arduino IDE to the AS7 and the Atmel ICE debugger. I tested a few of the clones (on Windows 10) using the Arduino IDE after fussing around and finally setting the IDE to use the "Old Bootloader"for the Nano. Without that, the Nano clone would not program. After that the Nano clone programmed perfectly.
I don't think the bootloader is a factor when programming with Atmel-ICE. I also don't think that the CH340 chip is a factor when programming with Atmel-ICE. After I installed AS7, I tried to program one of the Nano clones using the ISP connector and the debug-Wire mode. The flat ribbon cable with the 10-pin end was connected to the AVR connector on Atmel-ICE, and the 6 pin ISP connector was connected to the ISP connector on the Nano with pin 1 properly connected to pin 1 of the Atmel-ICE connector (the pin 1 location is a little weird on the Nano).
The first thing it told me was that my Atmel-ICE needed a firmware upgrade, which it completed. This confirmed to me that Atmel-ICE was communicating with my computer (i.e., the proper drivers were installed with the AS7 installation).
I then came to realize that the Atmel-ICE apparently also needs the board to be powered externally (from the USB connector, presumably), or the target power LED will not light. I was a little taken aback by this because there is a 5V and ground connection on the ISP. After plugging in the Atmel-ICE to the clone Nano board, I could not get AS7 to read the device ID of the CPU or its fuses. When I tried to do that, I got the message that the Atmel-ICE (or AS7) "could not establish a programming connection to the device". And, of course I could not program the board. I tried to program the board with a minimum program of main and while(1) and debug it. The original blink program still persisted in the Nano.
Then I tried to reset the Nano and to try to program it in the Arduino IDE, and it will not respond. And the blink program is now gone. This leads me to think that there is something I am missing doing when setting up the AS7 for the 328P on the Nano. Perhaps some fuses were also reprogrammed. It did ask to set the fuse for debugging, and I allowed AS7 to do that (but that program and debug action failed with the message that AS7 or Atmel-ICE could not enter the programming mode).
I still have 4 more pristine Nano clones, but I'd like some ideas to try to get Atmel-ICE to read the device ID and the fuses. Or better, a step-by-step procedure to get started programming a clone Nano.
The clones cost me less that $4 each, so I don't worry so much if the Nano cannot be restored to work.