Reprogramming the VFD Modular Clock


The open source firmware for the open the null can be downloaded fromgithub. It has recently undergone a series of improvements with lots of new exciting features (more about that in a later blog post).

Getting an ISP Programmer

To program the null, an ISP programmer is required. We do not sell one, so here are a few options:

Arduino ISP Programmer

Most Arduino boards can be used as an ISP programmer by using the ArduinoISP sketch. If you already own an Arduino board, this is probably the easiest way, but it requires some wiring.

Have a look here for details

AVR ISP mkii

This is Atmels own programmer. It is relatively affordable and can be purchased from Mouser, Digikey or similar shops.

See here for details


This is Adafruit's low-cost programmer. It is quite a bit slower than the AVR ISP mkii, but works just as well as a programmer for the ATMega328P chip on the null.

See here for details

Setting up the Compiler Toolchain

The VFD Modular Clock firmware is written for avr-gcc. The installation procedure differs depending on your OS.

See our installation instructions for details

Getting the Source Code

The latest source code ison github.

Click the ZIP button to download.

Setting up

The file is used by the makefile in the VFD Modular Clock firmware to read information about your programmer.

If you've set up an Arduino as an ISP programmer, use this:

Code block with id '27' not found.

This will compile the source code and flash it to the microcontroller. Once it is finished, the device will reboot and you will have the latest firmware!

Other uses

The method described here also works for many of our other products, such as

null and null.

The TWI/I2C slave firmware in null, null and null can also be updated with an ISP programmer.

Note that null and null both ship with an Arduino bootloader and are programmed in the Arduino environment using an FTDI adapter instead of an ISP programmer.