Meet the Parallax Propeller QuickStart board

Picture of Meet the Parallax Propeller QuickStart board

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
FFFF hex).

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...
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Gelfling61 month ago

RadioShack must be discontinuing this (as they have a LOT of parallax items), because I just picked up this little board for only $9.95/US. Adding it to my little board collection (Arduino, Arduino-Mega, Basic Stamp2, Raspberry Pi) for tinkering. Should be interesting!

gtoal2 months ago

Do you know if the chip has eight physical cores, or is it hardware time-sliced like the old Xerox Alto?

Gelfling6 gtoal1 month ago

Internally, it is supposed to have 8 cores, 32-bit architecture , 32 I/O bits (GPIO), each addressable from each core. Yeah, I just got the Parallax 40000 board (the P8X32A QuickStart board). and slowly absorbing as much as I can on it.

giacky981 year ago
The 8-core architecture sounds very cool! I have to try this! However, does the fact that the program is stored in the RAM make you able to load some code from a SD card and then run it?
red_green giacky9811 months ago
i think you'd have to do a lot of coding to make that work... in assembly
Bootloaders already exist in the object exchange.Some since 2009...
49percentGood10 months ago
In your Instructable you mention, "The Priam blinks an LED attached to pin 7." However your screen shot shows CON 'pin' = 16. Any clarity on this perhaps?
It's great to see someone using ANYTHING other than Arduino, but all that processing power to blink an LED? It just doesn't seem like an efficient use of resources.
cavelamb (author)  Dream Dragon2 years ago
No argument about overkill for blinking an LED.
But one must start somewhere...

My main reason for picking the Propeller is to make a "ships bell".
Two ways to do that - virtual bell, or real bell.

The real bell just needs a real time clock and a solenoid to ding with.

The virtual approach involved playing back a digitized .WAV file.
It was a challenge to get the bell sound and code compressed down
enough to fit into 32K of RAM. But it worked.

Try doing THAT with an Arduino!

red_green cavelamb11 months ago
I have some of the old dip based propellers where you pretty much have to make your own development board. If people only knew what they can do. 8 brains.....