Computer numeric control (CNC) is a term most usually associated with mechanical manufacturing with routers, mills, lasers and plotters. The designer sets up a series of directions (the 'numeric' part) which are transmitted to the manufacturing hardware (via 'computer') and translated into the movement of a tool ('control'). Eberhard Rensch found another use for hobbyist-level CNC equipment when he needed to flash a number of ATMega microcontroller chips - the same chips that power most Arduino models - in an automated fashion. The Pleasant Flasher, built in July but recently brought to our attention via Hackaday, takes a DIY CNC mill and replaces the milling bit with a flashing harness. A panel's-worth of printed circuit boards are placed on the bed of the machine, and the control program instructs the mill to connect the flashing harness to the first chip, flash it via AVRDUDE, and move on to the next - completing an otherwise lengthy process in a fraction of the time it would take to achieve by hand, with Eberhard estimating it takes as little as 15 seconds per chip in its latest revision. A video shows the set-up in action, proving that mass-manufacturing techniques can be applicable to the hobbyist market with a little ingenuity.
After changing a default setting in avrdude (“-B 1″), flashing a chip takes only about 15 seconds now. This means, that flashing a complete panel of 40 PCBs takes only about 10-12 Minutes!