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50 $ robot not working.. please help..

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ok,I have built the 50$ robot but its not getting programmed. I have made the microcontroller and its fine. I have tested it at least hundred times and now the voltages are also fine. I have plugged in the atmega8 and the cheap serial port dongle programmer. I also compiled the photovore hex file and downloaded the ponyprog software. When I plug in the programmer and switch on the microcontroller, I select "Write All" from the ponyprog file. Then the error of missing device or unknown device keeps coming EVERY single time!! I checked the voltages and its alright.. My computer has only 1 serial port.. so I chose serial prog IO and selected COM1 from the interface setup in the ponyprog file.

By far, the only mistake i have made in the circuit is that the DIP socket for the ic is the wrong way (the u shaped side is on the opposite side of the pc  board.).. but I have plugged in the IC correctly.. Does this make a big difference?? please reply..

The orientation of the socket doesn't matter as long as the actual IC is inserted correctly.
When programming Atmega microcontrollers, there are two things that commonly go wrong:
1) You must have power supplied to the microcontroller while you program it. Make sure the battery is on!
2) The 6-pin ICSP programmer cable can be plugged in backwards, which will result in the programmer not seeing the microcontroller. Re-plug the cable the other way on the 6-pin header if that's the case.

(Note that I'm assuming the $50 robot uses the standard 6-pin programming header -- if not, then case 2 above might not apply)

cheap serial programmers, specially the ponyprog one, are known to be problematic. they work on some computers and some os but not all. usbasp ($3 on ebay) are trouble free and generally work better than programmers costing 10x more. better to switch than fight.

"(Note that I'm assuming the $50 robot uses the standard 6-pin programming header -- if not, then case 2 above might not apply)"

@ Jwatte, thank you very much for the reply but unfortunately, i am not using the 6 pin programmer. I have a ten pin programmer (exactly the same one shown in the tutorial). Should I try switching the pins? I make sure the batteries are on when i try to program it..

The voltages are fine and the programmer is also being supplied with 4.94 volts.. So I am confident that voltage is not the problem.. Is there any specific detail related to the configuration of the serial port??

@ Johnwarfin, are the pinouts for the usbasp programmer the same as those of the cheap programmer??


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