Dragon Steak with some Squid
I picked up an Atmel AVR Dragon + STK500 bundle from Digikey a while back to compliment my AVRISP mkII. It's an outstanding combo for the $50 I spent on it. The STK500 came pretty much ready to go, and made it worlds easier to program the stockpile of AVR chips I've built up. I'm pleased as punch with it.
The Dragon is also an impressive piece of hardware, but I didn't really get going on it until recently. It'll do debugWIRE, JTAG programming and emulation, ISP programming, HV programming, oooh, it gives me the shivers... Except it didn't come with any cables, and you basically have to wire it up differently for each device.
I ran across a neat Instructable, though, that had a nice way to make some general-purpose cables:
I've got parts ordered to build a set of these cables.
In the process of researching all this, though, I ran across some posts on http://ww.avrfreaks.net with some great names for things. One refered to the AVR Dragon + STK500 setup as a Dragon Steak. Another refered to the breakout cables for the Dragon as squid cables. So once all the bits show up next week and I get everything crimped together, I'll have a dragon steak with a side of squid. Can't beat it.
(A quick aside: If you ever need to build a cable with a lot of tiny crimp connectors, best thing you can do is get a job at a place that has a lot of crimping tools so you don't have to shell out the $500-1500 for a tool to make a $15 cable!)
Anyway, I'm looking forward to using debugWIRE for one of the projects I'm working on. It takes over the AVR chip you're using it on and clocks it one command at a time so you can step through your code on a live, running piece of hardware. I know there are simulators for the AVR, and I use them. But it's tough to fake input to a simulated ADC. With debugWIRE I won't need to. I'll be able to see what the actual ADC is seeing: my sensors. I'm stoked.