How to Update the Firmware on a USBasp V2.0

REVISED 2018-07-16

If you buy a cheap USBasp V2.0 ICSP programmer on eBay, chances are, avrdude will give you the following warning message:

avrdude: warning: cannot set sck period. please check for usbasp firmware update.

While it’s just a benign warning message which can be ignored with no ill effects, it’s still a constant irritant. Furthermore, it also prevents my speed up technique from working, because it relies on changing the sck period. To get rid of the warning, you must update the firmware to the latest version: usbasp.2011-05-28.tar.gz

If you have another ICSP programmer already, such as a USBtinyISP, programming in the new firmware is quite simple. If you have more than one USBasp, you can even use them to program each other. Here are the steps:

0. Verify that you have a USBasp V2.0, and that it has a 12MHz crystal and an ATMEGA8 or ATMEGA8A MCU onboard. DO NOT CONNECT IT TO THE USB PORT OF YOUR COMPUTER.

1. Short the JP2 (self-programming) jumper.

2. Connect the USBasp V2.0 to the USBtinyISP (or other ISP) using a 10-pin ribbon cable


3. Flash in the new firmware: avrdude -c usbtiny -p atmega8 -U flash:w:usbasp.atmega8.2011-05-28.hex

4. Reprogram the USBasp’s fuses: avrdude -c usbtiny -p atmega8 -u -U hfuse:w:0xc9:m -U lfuse:w:0xef:m

If you’re not using a USBtinyISP, substitute the proper parameter after -c (e.g. -c usbasp).

Note that the usbasp.2011-05-28.tar.gz archive doesn’t contain a compiled .hex file, so you have to re-compile it using WinAVR. Instead, you can just use my hex file, which I compiled directly from the sources:

If you don’t have another ICSP programmer, you can use an Arduino, following these instructions: Updating firmware on USBASP bought from eBay. However, you may also have to also set the fuses according to Step 3 above. My PC wouldn’t recognize the reprogrammed USBasp until I set the fuses.