Recently I have bought a cheap clone of Arduino Nano from the Chinese site Deal Extreme. Unfortunately, that product (SKU 81877) comes without a bootloader. The main sign that indicates you that the Arduino doesn’t have a bootloader is that the “L” LED, next to the Power LED, doesn’t blink when the Arduino is connected to the power source or when the Reset button is pressed.
It is possible to use your Arduino without a bootloader, but it won’t work with the Arduino IDE and you will need an external AVR Programmer like this one in order to upload sketches.
So I needed to follow two main steps in order to get my Arduino Nano working without buying an AVR programmer:
- Solder the six ICSP pins. These pins are provided in the same package, but you need to solder them to the Arduino board.
- Use another Arduino (a working one) as an ISP programmer in order to burn a bootloader onto the non-working one. I borrowed another Arduino Nano from my friend Nahuel (let me say thank you to him and Dani, who helped me with all of this), but other models shoud work too.
The Arduino board I bought looked like this. Notice that the ICSP header slot, highlighted in red, doesn’t have any pins soldered to it: