I use Arduino as my microcontroller of choice, but often it’s sort of overkill for a project. I tend to program and test on the Arduino then migrate to an ATTiny, a more lightweight range of microcontrollers that is more suitable for less I/O demanding tasks, such as a Simon game. However, it’s often time-consuming and inefficient to wire up an ATTiny to an Arduino to be programmed. At the Ottawa Mini Maker Faire, I encountered the TinyLoadr shield that solved this problem and made programming ATTinys easier and more accessible.
The Shield, made by Jeff Murchison, uses a 28 ZIF socket to insert the chip to be programmed, and an array of DIP switches selects the IC currently on the shield. Upload the ArduinoISP sketch, stack the shield, and you have an AVR programmer! The shield is compatible with a whole range of ATTinys and ATMegas. More information on the Tindie page and on Jeff’s blog. The Fritzing files for this shield are also on Jeff’s Git.