I ran across another Freeduino board made by Modern Device called the Bare Bones Freeduino. I ordered one along with an LCD kit (driver and 2 x 16 display). The BB board uses a separate board called a USB BUB (USB to TTL) to connect to a computer. I like this setup. I can use a single BUB to program any number of BB boards. I also like the way the BB board simply plugs in to a breadboard giving me access to the Atmega 328 i/o while putting 5V power and ground on the corresponding rails at the top. This is a very neat and cost effective package for microcontroller experiments. I look forward to taking the LCD kit on the road when I visit other schools to talk about my SHSM Computer Tech. program. The piece provides and interesting focus for discussion about the technology and - hey - looks flashy!
I soldered the BB board with my old 30 watt soldering iron (connected to a dimmer switch to control power). I've used that old iron for years and so I treated myself to a new Elenco SL-5 soldering station - nicer to hold and easier to control.
I've spent some time going over my non-functioning Freeduin0 board looking for the problem. I even built an RS232 to TTL board (my own design) to bypass the USB interface to see if that was the problem. I also tried the USB BUB to talk directly to the Atmega chip. I keep getting the same error.
avrdude: stk500_get_sync(): not in sync: resp=0x66
avrdude: stk500_disable(): protocol error, expect=0x14, resp=0x66