When looking for alternate external programmers (ISPs), I am noticing that many are not Arduino Mega 2560 compatible (e.g. Pocket AVR Programmer, USBtinyISP).

I am looking for a reliable external programmer for the Arduino Mega that is compatible with the Arduino IDE. What are my options? Currently I have been struggling with the retired ArduinoISP programmer, which doesn't look like its going to work. Does anyone have proven experience with a given programmer and a Mega?

The suggested AVR-mkII doesn't seem to be available anymore either.

  • 2
    I always use USBasp.
    – Gerben
    Nov 23, 2016 at 10:07
  • 1
    Voting to be "opinion based", basically any ICSP programmer for AVR should work. I also like the USBasp and have never had any troubles with it (even when bought for around 5$ from e-bay). It's very much of a shopping question, is very broad (since there are a lot of programmers, and ways to program) and opinion based, since everyone has his own thoughts on reliability of some programmers.
    – aaa
    Dec 23, 2016 at 8:39
  • Yes, to some extent; however, I was hoping for a certain type of answer. For example, a "Use A because it offers X, Y, Z, even though it suffers from U, V, and W." Dec 23, 2016 at 18:19
  • Currently the Arduino.cc page has nothing about why I should choose one programmer over the other, or even which programmers are actually compatible with their boards (it looks like most of the time the MEGA, as specifically addressed in this question, isn't compatible). Dec 23, 2016 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


I have successfully used Arduino as ISP (not to be confused with Arduino ISP) on a Mega clone that has a funky FTDI-clone onboard, and would not let me upload bootloader through serial. This worked fine, and is cheap.


a test would be if any of those programmers mentioned about could program a big file (64KB+).

if I were you, I would look into that instead.

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