A few days ago my son bought me a birthday present. It was a BusPirate from SparkFun. This is what it looks like plugged into a breadboard.
BusPirate and Breadboard
The BusPirate is quite a handy circuit. I have used it to flash a BIOS chip using FLASHROM and also program an AVR ATMEGA 328P with AVRDude.
It can even be used in the Arduino IDE as a programmer simply by adding a few lines:
buspirate.name=The Bus Pirate
in programmers.txt (found in the hardware directory).
The I/O header [breakout] looks like this:
BusPirate I/O Header
The BusPirate has many uses, check out the possibilities here.
If you’d like to try some of the functions of the BusPirate on an Arduino, you might be interested in the Arduino Sketch called “MiniPirate“. You can find more information here.