Proposed collaboration

I am very new to Arduino, and my past experience with micro-controllers dates back to highschool when we built robot cars using handyboards. I had been introduced to Arduino a while back by a colleague and when a project finally arose that made sense I dove in headfirst. In just a few short weeks I went from making an LED blink to building a standalone RGB LED controller. I worked out the code, learned the hardware, learned to etch my own PCB, the whole nine yards. I am certain that my story is not unique in any way, as my current issue is all over every forum I can find. Now before anyone wants to say "look at this thread" or "read this article", I have. The problem (at least for me) is that there are so many different ways to do what I want to do it is making my head spin.

I am planning, and hoping at least a few people on the forum will help, to build a device that can be easily replicated and used by even the newbie-est of newbs. The device will use an Arduino to read the content of one ATmega 328P and write it to another.
In my mind there would be a shield placed atop an Arduino, on the shield there would be a ZIF socket,two buttons, and some sort of memory (EEPROM perhaps). When the read button is pressed the entire contents of the Chip in the socket will be read and stored in the onboard memory, the sorce chip is removed and the target chip is placed in, press the write button and the content of the onboard memory are written to the new chip. The source chip can the be replicated repeatedly as long as the "read" button is not pressed again.

I have seen a thread on here where a guy named Nick G. (don't want to misspell his last name) is doing something similar with an SD card, I think this is a good place to start, and obviously his project is easily the second half of my project. but reading from the chip and writing to the onboard memory is where I need some help to even get started.

As I try to figure out what would be the best question to get me started ideas are fluttering into my head, I am going to work on a concept drawing and post soon, In the meantime I would love feedback on the general feasibility of the project.

Sure, it's just software. You can replicate the avrdude commands to read the fuses and write the fuses, and read the flash and write the flash, and maybe even read the EEPROM and write the EEPROM.

complete change of reply -

I think I need to stop thinking in terms of "bootloader" and "sketch" at this point. My very first programming teach used to tell us to give our selves a PEP talk before starting any kind of work (Plain English Program).

  1. Read contents of ATmega Flash Memory
  2. Store read contents in an independent memory "cell"
  3. Write contents of independent memory to ATmega Flash memory

that being said, I think the first step in figuring this out would be to use my arduino to read a seperate ATmega and send to my computer.

I am off to do some research but any advice is welcome

Keep in mind that an ATmega328 can hold exactly 1 ATmega328's worth of program information at any one time.

well, after reading the thread about Nick G.'s project I have come to the realization that he went beyond just writing data from the sd card and actually acomplished what I was thinking, If i continue to study the code I can figure out some mods to create the exact device I am looking to make

done, I figured out the proble was me all along, I completely overthought what I was trying to do, The device I dreamed up already exists in several variations and i found a simple solution to my situation.