BoardStuff's are manufactured using "state of the art" techniques and quality components so, nothing should go wrong. Unfortunately there are so many factors involved in programming AVR devices that one or more error in the programming chain can lead to failure.

The following solutions are applicable to the "ArduinoISP_Multi" sketch provided by BoardStuff. We only recommend using our shield with this sketch!

If you are having problems and don't seem to be getting anywhere, please refer to the following advice:

Symptoms Suggested Solutions
The "Heartbeat" LED is OFF and does nothing...
  • Is the ArduinoISP_Multi sketch uploaded to the Arduino UNO? Try reloading the sketch with the shield removed. If the ArduinoISP_Multi sketch has uploaded successfully, the "Pin 13 LED" on the Arduino board will flash 3 rapid blips 3 times. If this does not happen, press the "Reset" button on the Arduino which will restart the sketch. If you still do not see the 3 x 3 rapid blips, you have a problem with uploading or your Arduino UNO board.
  • If the sketch has been successfully uploaded and the 3 x 3 blips are seen, re-attached the shield and press the "Reset" button again. You should see the ERR, PROG and HB LEDs on the shield do the same 3 x 3 blip sequence followed by the Heartbeat LED pulsating.
  • If you do not see the shield LEDs flash, without removing the shield, press the "Reset" button again while observing the Pin 13 LED on the Arduino.
  • If the Arduino Pin 13 LED flashes but the shield LEDs do not, does the PWR LED on the shield light when the ON/OFF link is put in place?
  • If the PWR LED does not light, there is a problem in the 5 Volt supply from the Arduino UNO. This should checked with a volt meter.
I can't upload sketches to the Arduino UNO with the shield attached...
  • Is the "RESET Defeat" link in place? The "RESET Defeat" link will prevent the uploading of sketches if it is in place. Only put this link in place AFTER uploading the ArduinoISP_Multi sketch to the Arduino UNO board.
  • The "RESET Defeat" link is there to prevent Arduino UNOs prior to "r3" resetting during programming. It does no harm to have the link in place for any version of Arduino UNO and we recommend its use at all times.
The "Heartbeat" LED is on solid and does not pulsate...

The "Heartbeat" LED is on solid and the "ERR" LED is lit...

  • The Auto-reset feature in the software should prevent this happening. If the software "hangs", an 8 second timer triggers a full reset of the Arduino UNO board which should clear any hang-ups. If the Auto-reset feature does not operate, try pressing the Reset switch on the Arduino UNO which should clear the problem.
  • Alternatively, if the Reset switch does not fix the fault, reload the ArduinoISP_Multi sketch.
avrdude: initialization failed, rc=-1
Double check connections and try again, or use -F to override
this check.

avrdude: Send: Q [51] [20] 
avrdude: Recv: 
avrdude: stk500_disable(): protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0x51

avrdude done. Thank you.
  • This message in the Arduino IDE window indicates that AVRDUDE cannot see the target device. Ensure that the AVR is correctly inserted into the correct socket on the shield. If you inserted the AVR while the PWR LED was lit, it is possible that you have permanently damaged the AVR device. If not, remove the ON/OFF link, re-insert the AVR and put the ON/OFF link back in place. The Arduino UNO may reset due to the Auto-reset feature of the software and the normal LED pattern should be restored. If it isn't, you will probably have to Reset the Arduino UNO.
Wrong microcontroller found...
  • The AVR in the shield socket is NOT the same as the one selected in the Arduino IDE "Boards" list.
There is no power from the ICSP header...
  • The ON/OFF link on the shield MUST be in place to supply power to the ICSP header
When I connect the ICSP header to my project board, the Arduino UNO shuts down...
  • You may have short on your project board! The ICSP can only supply a MAXIMUM of 500 mA (minus the current being taken by the Arduino UNO)
  • The current required to power your project board may be exceeding the available 500 mA (minus the current being taken by the Arduino UNO)