EPROM, PIC & PAL programmers

Review of the models that we used.

Choice of a programmer

For the owner of an electronic pinball, the programmer of EPROM and PAL is almost as indispensable as the multimeter. But which model is most suitable?

The ideal is to have a cheap model, running on recent PC (USB, autonomous, drivers W7 64bits) and programming a maximum of components.

The say all in a row, we have not yet found this rare bird ! If certain models appear attractive on paper, in reality, it is any different.

Low-cost programmers "made in China"

These programmers found on Ebay are very bad. Indeed, their characteristics are very seducing, but in the end it can be seen that there is no support (no forum, nor address for the manufacturer), that the softs are wads of bugs and absolutely not translated, finally the old circuit programming (2732 example) does not work.

We have tested these models on different PC and in several environments, also can make us an objective judgement on these programmers.

TOP 3100

He does it all (EPROM, PAL/GAL, peak) and is not expensive...

Unfortunately, the associated soft is not at the top, nor frequently updated. It took a long time to get a 64-bit version and the correction of major bugs. There is strictly no support and most of the available components have never been tested (it is for example, absolutely impossible to program a 2732 with this model). The implementation of the PIC is totally exotic with significant gaps, particularly at the level of the choice of options.

What a pity, because electronics seems quite well designed. But in the end, a model to avoid.

TOP3100 TOP3100 TOP3100 TOP3100 TOP3100 TOP3100 TOP3100

Genius G540

Another model that does it all...

This programmer is designed around a SILABS (standard) solution with a simple architecture, what might seem reassuring. Except that the software is a calamity! at least one fault by Word... which again, may be bearable if it worked properly. It is nothing! Impossible once again to program a 2732 while they appear in the list of recognized components.

This model is barely better than the TOP-3100 and will therefore also be avoided.

The software and drivers of the G540 regularly crash under Windows 7/8/10 and make its use unreliable.

G540 G540 G540 G540 G540

Minipro TL866CS

This model is probably the most reliable low-cost, offering a wide range of components. Although it does not have an external power supply, it is still able to program some old components (in Vpp 21 Volts, such as 27C16). On the other hand, do not expect to program those in Vpp 25 Volts (2716, 2732 old).

The programming of the PICs as well as the GALs is perfectly implemented, the configuration of these particular components does not cause any problems. The HEX and JEDEC files are read without error, in full (configuration, identifiers). Note that the CS version no longer has the ICSP connector, but it can be replaced and is not very useful either.

The software is reliable and works perfectly in Windows 7/8/10. Existing for several years, this model is relatively well monitored and updated regularly.

This model is certainly the best choice of low-cost, as long as you do not want to program obsolete components in 25 Volts.


PRO models and others programmers


The BX48 II is a German branded programmer. It is easy to program both old and new components. Its voltage range for the programming of components is indeed enormous: it goes from the 25 volts for the old EPROM, up to 1 volt for the most modern memories.

It also includes PICs and LAGs. The presence of a 48-pin ZIF support allows it to address impressive circuits without the need for an adapter.


Built around an ALTERA Cyclone III FPGA (EP3CE10), this programmer also uses several specialized circuits. The electronics are complex, compact but reliable.



Here is a programmer that works properly, and at least, the advertised components have been tested. It also has the advantage to have a responsive support. In short, everything that was missing from the models 'made in China'. No worries for the 2732 with this model. The only criticism that could make him, it does not program the PAL/GAL, neither PIC16F57.

We recommend this model which works satisfactorily.



This is a programmer dedicated to PIC that plug on USB port and shipped with a ZIF socket.

It is also possible to program chips that doesn't fit into the ZIF, like the PIC16F57, using the ICSP connector. Several similar models exists (K128, K150, K182) and all are build on the same principle, implemented by Microchip. Indeed, the modern PIC are programmed with a standardised interface and protocol ICSP, that require no more than five wires.

We can program any PIC with the same programmer. This is true even if this one don't has an ICSP connector, because it only need to connect the five wires at the right place. This can be done simply on an experimental plate, as it can be seen on the second picture below.

K149B K149B

Last update of this page: May 30th, 2018

French Tech


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