The Propeller processor chip is the most unique micro-controller on the market today.
It's not just a single microprocessor, but EIGHT independent processors that share
resources like memory and I/O pins. And it can do some pretty amazing things that
the rest of the microcontrollers like the Ardino and PICs just plain can't do!
(But today, all we want to do it blink an LED)
Each of the processors (called a Cog) has 512 LONGS (32 bits each) (or 2048 bytes) of RAM
memory for it's own use. In addition, all eight processors share an additional 64K bytes
(16K LONGS) of shared HUB memory. Hub memory is divided into 32K bytes of ROM
(from address 0 to 7FFF, or low memory) and 32K bytes (8092 LONGS) of RAM from 8000 to
The ROM section contains the boot loader code, math tables, and character fonts.
RAM is for program storage, variables and stack space.
The hub controls COG access to Propeller resources like memory or I/O pins in "round robin"
fashion. For more exciting details of the COG and HUB tune into chapter 5 of the manual and
check it out!
The programming language is called Spin, and it too is rather unique.
Today I'd like to introduce the Parallax "QuickStart" board.
This is probably the best board to buy to get started with the Propeller chip from Parallax
since it has more useful toys to play with - built in. No need to learn to wire up microelectronic
circuits just to blink an LED!
The normal (necessary) chips are on board, of course...
P8x32MM Propeller processor chip, 64 KB EEPROM, USB interface chip and voltage regulator
are all there. But this board also has, across the bottom edge, eight "touch pads" and eight LEDs
that you can play with immediately.
The Touchpads are used as input buttons. They take a bit more programming support than a regular
switch, but they cost a whole lot less (they are "printed" on the circuit board) and work pretty well.
But that's a bit more advanced topic (the required Touchpad drivers are available on-line at the
Propeller Object Exchange)
So first off, lets, hook up and get started...
Step 1: SetUp the QuickStart Board
Physically connecting the QuickStart board to your PC is simplicity itself,
but there IS a catch.
Since this is a USB device, you MUST load the USB drivers before plugging the board's
USB cable into your computer.
Driver and editor are downloaded from Parallax at their web site...
There is quite a bit of stuff there for free, but all we really need to get started is the
Propeller/Spin Tool Software.
Propeller/Spin Tool Software v1.2.7 (R2) - (Supports Windows 2K/XP/Vista/7.
Requires IE7 or newer Or FireFox 3.0 or newer)
Includes software, USB driver, Propeller Manual, PE Kit Labs text and example
code, schematics, quick reference, Propeller Help and tutorial examples.
Click the download tab, save the file to your hard drive.
Before running the setup-Propeller-Tool file, close all other programs that may be
running on your computer.
Then click on the setup program and follow the instructions. Pretty normal stuff.
Personally, I install to a custom folder - C:\Prop - instead of the default in the
Program Files folder. It's a lot easier to get to and spell(!)
When the setup program finishes, you are all ready to get going.