Arduino MEGA Atmel-ICE Connection

12 November 2019

How to Connect an Atmel-ICE to an Arduino MEGA via the ICSP Header

This article explains how to connect an Atmel-ICE to an Arduino MEGA 2560 via the ICSP header as used in the book C Programming with Arduino. It applies to the Atmel-ICE USB programmer debugger, with part number atatmel-ice and the cheaper Atmel ICE basic, part number ATATMEL-ICE-BASIC.

Full or Basic Atmel-ICE

Either the atatmel-ice or atatmel-ice-basic can be used with the book instead of the AVR Dragon or AVRISP mkII. The Atmel-ICE has both programming and debugging capabilities.

The Atmel-ICE Full Kit (ATATMEL-ICE) is more expensive than the basic version and has additional connectors in the box.

The Atmel-ICE Basic Kit (ATATMEL-ICE-BASIC) comes with a USB cable and one ribbon cable and is cheaper than the full kit. It fine to use the basic kit with the book as the extra connectors are not needed.

Connect the Ribbon Cable to the Atmel-ICE AVR Port

Connect the Atmel-ICE ribbon cable into the Atmel ICE via the connector marked AVR on the body of the Atmel-ICE. The 20 pin (5 × 2) fine pitch connector at the end of the cable plugs into the Atmel-ICE AVR connector.

Because of the key on the connector, the ribbon cable can't be plugged in the wrong way around. Just make sure to plug it into the AVR port and NOT the SAM port or connector.

Connect the Ribbon Cable to the Arduino MEGA ICSP Header

Connect the 6 pin (3 × 2) header found at the other end of the ribbon cable to the ICSP header of the Arduino MEGA 2560. Make sure that the key that protrudes from the 6 pin connector at the end of the ribbon cable points towards the USB connector side of the Arduino MEGA. See the images below to verify the connection.

On most ribbon cables, the red wire is pin 1 and connects to a pin on the corner of the connector. This is not so for the AVR ICSP connector when using the Atmel-ICE. The red wire connects to the middle of the 6 pin connector.

Arduino MEGA 2560 to Atmel-ICE connection on ICSP header

Connecting an Atmel-ICE to the ICSP header on an Arduino MEGA 2560

The next image shows a closer view of the 6 pin connector on the ICSP header of the Arduino MEGA. Note the key of the connector pointing to the USB side of the board. Also note that the red wire of the ribbon cable is in the middle of the connector and also on the USB side of the board.

Close-up of the Atmel-ICE connected to the Arduino MEGA ICSP header

Close-up View of the Atmel-ICE Connector on the Arduino MEGA ICSP Header

An angled shot of the connection can be seen in the following image. Click any of the images to see them full size.

Angled View of Arduino MEGA to Atmel-ICE connection on ICSP header

Angled View of the Atmel-ICE to Arduino MEGA Connection

Pin 1 of the ICSP header on the Arduino MEGA is marked with a small dot on the PCB silkscreen and highlighted in green in the image below.

Pin 1 of the ICSP header on an Arduino MEGA 2560

Pin 1 of the ICSP header on an Arduino MEGA 2560

C Programming with Arduino