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View Full Version : Which Prop chip to buy?



eiplanner
12-30-2009, 02:57 PM
I am looking to purchase one of the Props and am not sure which way to go. I am somewhat of a novice, but my aspirations to build a musical

device of some sort have already outgrown the Basic Stamp 2. I was hoping some of you with much experience using the Props could

point me in the right direction. I am not sure if I need one of the Pro Dev Boards or if I should just purchase a chip and go from there.

I want something simple to use, but I don't want something with many of the functions already taken up. At the same time, I don't want

to get caught up in having to upgrade again in the near future. The programming doesn't really matter to me because I am not good

with any of it yet. I studied BASIC, Fortran, and machine language in college 20 years ago but haven't used any of it since.

I would appreciate some helpful advice.

Leon
12-30-2009, 03:04 PM
I bought a Proto Board, Prop Plug, and a few DIL and QFP chips which I designed into my own PCBs which I made at home. That's the cheapest way to get started.

Leon

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Amateur radio callsign: G1HSM

James Long
12-30-2009, 03:23 PM
eiplanner said...
I am looking to purchase one of the Props and am not sure which way to go. I am somewhat of a novice, but my aspirations to build a musical

device of some sort have already outgrown the Basic Stamp 2. I was hoping some of you with much experience using the Props could

point me in the right direction. I am not sure if I need one of the Pro Dev Boards or if I should just purchase a chip and go from there.

I want something simple to use, but I don't want something with many of the functions already taken up. At the same time, I don't want

to get caught up in having to upgrade again in the near future. The programming doesn't really matter to me because I am not good

with any of it yet. I studied BASIC, Fortran, and machine language in college 20 years ago but haven't used any of it since.

I would appreciate some helpful advice.


A Pro Dev Board will help you get up to speed with programming, don't discount the accessories as not needed. Sometimes it is nice to have a few things to pulse and play with to get the result you want.

I'm not sure if I would go for the Pro Dev board, but I would probably get a chip, prop plug, and a few other things to interface with (simple to difficult). Being out of practice can be frustrating. It depends on how well versed you were when you left programming. If you were a guru, you will probably pick it up quick. If you just took a few college classes, it make take a little longer (unless you have a mind like a steel trap).

The cheap route is not a bad one until you hit a wall, and need some resources to get your thinking straight. That is not the time to be waiting on items to come. It is extremely frustrating waiting on an item to help you learn. I could have pulled my hair out waiting at times.

If you feel confident, then by all means be thrifty. If you have doubts or major questions.....you may want to pick up some extras which fit the type of programming your after (timing, interface, display, etc.). I recommend some kind of display, unless you like computer monitor or TV interface (cheap). I also recommend some kind of SD card interface. Both of those will save a huge amount of time (display for helping debug, and card for storage.....being musical and all). Don't forget the crystal (optional but highly recommended) and eeprom (necessary.....if you do not want to load the program after power off).

Welcome to the extremely addictive Propeller. There is a huge amount of resources here at your disposal. Try first, then post your code with the questions you have. You will get a lot of ideas, help and criticism (mostly constructive).

James L

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James L
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Are you addicted to technology or Micro-controllers..... then checkout the forums at Savage Circuits (http://www.savagecircuits.com). Learn to build your own Gizmos!

heater
12-30-2009, 03:42 PM
Given you will be starting from almost ground zero with regard programming and programming the Prop in particular it is important to have something that "just works" from the get go. Something that allows you to try out all the demos and examples codes you find in the manual etc.

Having resources, pins mainly, "wasted" on peripherals you may not need in the end is not waste at all. Being able to easily see the results of your programming experiments is vital when learning so those pins used for VGA or TV or just LEDs become indispensable.

As such I would start with a Prop Demo board. It's easy to add an SD card to it. Or other things for experiments.

I started out with just a DIP Prop and a few transistors to boot it from a USB/Serial adaptor. Eventually grew the board into a home made Prop Demo board. Worked fine but buying a Demo Board at the start would have been well worth it in saving time and hassle.

When you are up to speed with the Prop and have the scope of your application fixed then is time to consider buying/building what you actually need for its implementation.

I vote Prop demo Board. Good luck.

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Toby Seckshund
12-30-2009, 06:28 PM
I started with a home made "Demo Board" with the three transistor '232 interface. All these ccts are available from the good folks at Parallax. As Heater points out a bought board will hold the faith of a known start, nothing is worse than the doubt that creeps in if you are unsure of what is wrong.

The Prop on breadboard is not that brilliant as the speed of the chip leads to all sorts of capacitance problems at 80MHz, but would be ok for led flashing etc. Some breadboards are a bit dodgy on pin conections to DIP chips, as their legs are only just long enough.

I started with one 40 DIP, then bought another, then they went rare for a bit, blew one up with 9 Volts and then got two 40s and one QFP (for the dreaming of small constructs)

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Cluso99
12-30-2009, 08:55 PM
I like the Prop ProtoBoard (USB version). But also buy the connector kit (VGA/PS2) at the same time. You can modify the USB section later to be a PropPlug and you have some prototyping are as well. IIRC there are some specials on so check them out too.

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Links to other interesting threads:

· Home of the MultiBladeProps: TriBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=786418),·RamBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=849265),·SixBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=780033), website (http://bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm)
· Single Board Computer:·3 Propeller ICs·and a·TriBladeProp board (ZiCog Z80 Emulator) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=790917)
· Prop Tools under Development or Completed (Index) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=753439)
· Emulators: CPUs Z80 etc; Micros Altair etc;· Terminals·VT100 etc; (Index) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=778427) ZiCog (Z80) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788511) , MoCog (6809) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=811043)
· Search the Propeller forums (http://search.parallax.com/search?site=parallax&client=parallax&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=parallax&proxycustom=<HOME/>&ie=&oe=&lr=)·(uses advanced Google search)
My cruising website is: ·www.bluemagic.biz (http://www.bluemagic.biz)·· MultiBladeProp is: www.bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm (http://www.bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm)

CannibalRobotics
12-30-2009, 10:44 PM
I started on the demo board. It's cool to be able to get started fast and see the videe in action.
The breadboard and port access is a little limited but a really good start for basic projects.
I still use it occasionally to test ideas.
Jim-

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Send $1 to CannibalRobotics.com.

kwinn
12-31-2009, 12:41 AM
I purchased the protoboard, programming plug, and accessory kit, and it has served me well. After assembling the video/keyboard/mouse sections and trying out some of the demos I added 4 sets of 2x8 pin headers to give me access to the port pins and power via short ribbon cables (see attached) That allowed me to build circuits on perf boards and connect them to the prop by ribbon cable. Really nice for prototyping.

potatohead
12-31-2009, 12:44 AM
I would vote for the Demo Board also.

One very nice thing is a ton of the code targets it, as it and the Proto Board serve as reference designs people can program to.

The difference between the two is the Demo Board has most of the important goodies, minus SD card, connected and ready to go. The Proto Board requires you build it up some, depending on what you want to do with it.

If you don't mind some building, Proto Board is nice because it's easy to add some headers and connect over to a bread board, or soldered up perf board and run the devices you want to run.

Both are really thrifty because you can just jump in and start running for a low cost.

If money isn't a significant problem, deffo do the Pro Dev Board. It requires you do some stuff straight away to get outputs, but it's very flexible, needing only some point to point wires to do lots of interesting and educational stuff.

I started Demo Board and did a lot of programming, also building little tiny circuits on the mini-bread board that comes on it. I then got a board or two from people here that design and build them. One of those came with a nice connector that can run to a stand alone bread board, and that's been just great for learning other things.

Now I'm in two modes. One is programming where I target some boards out there and learn to build bigger, faster better programs. The other is building, where I'm learning to hook stuff together, use a scope, etc.... The PPDB is very handy for that, but not needed as a DIP Prop and some circuits on a bread board get it done nicely enough.

I'm really glad I started with a Demo Board, because I got a lot of programming time in, which takes some of the trouble out of building things.

Since you are interested in music, Demo Board is nice because it has a mic, and sound outputs, and room enough to either do SD card, or more sound outputs. There is enough on that board to start programming audio effects and I think you will have a darn good time doing that. Once you exceed the limits of what is connected to that board, you can pick a Proto Board, roll your own Leon style, or get a PPDB and expand.

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Propeller Wiki: Share the coolness! (http://propeller.wikispaces.com/)
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mikediv
12-31-2009, 12:45 AM
I bought a few of the prop boards myself I started with the propstick got the protoboard but to be honest I think the Demo board is best way to go it has the video and audio interface my propstick came in the educational kit but like I said with the exception of proto board it has VGA but no NTSC my pick would be demo board.
Oh the usb prostick does not need the prop plug but the other boards do I am not sure about the demo board though I do not have one

hover1
12-31-2009, 02:01 AM
Based on your original post, and the posts in the Basic Stamp forum, I think the Professional Development board would be the right choice for you. You said you did not want something that was laden with pre determined funtions. The PPDB has all the hardeware (VGA, keyboard, mouse, audio amp, TV) as on the Demo board, but you decide when to connect it. It also has a socketed Propeller Chip and EEPROM.

Although a lot of the demo files in the OBEX are written for the Demo Board, there is no reason The PPDB can't be set up to look like a Demo Board.

The PPDB does go on sale from time to time at a very good discouunt.

Jim

PS I have both boards, but based on what I think you are trying to do, the 8 pins on the demo board might not cut it, ( but you could always add a 8-bit shift register to expand).

grouchy
12-31-2009, 07:27 AM
I'm a beginner, and I vote for the demo board. That way you can try everything . The board gives you keyboard, mouse, video, vga, audio out, audio in, usb serial port, you can add lcd's, sd card, servos, have access to i/o pins for pwm or whatever.

All of the above is easily available without having to solder, and you can easily reconfigure for another project. For learning, its great.

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hover1
12-31-2009, 08:00 AM
@grouchy

I'm not discounting the Demo Board at all. I have two and I love them.

But the PPDB also includes a RTC, 8 servo headers, two POTS, 8-DIP switch, 8-pushbuttons, a stepper motor interface, 6 Digit 16-segment LED's, and an extra RS-232 port. A larger breadboard is included. No soldering.

In my opinion, it is well·worth the extra $90.0 But, the money available to the user will decide. Just trying to help the OP.

Best Regards,

Jim


grouchy said...
I'm a beginner, and I vote for the demo board. That way you can try everything . The board gives you keyboard, mouse, video, vga, audio out, audio in, usb serial port, you can add lcd's, sd card, servos, have access to i/o pins for pwm or whatever.

All of the above is easily available without having to solder, and you can easily reconfigure for another project. For learning, its great.

markaeric
12-31-2009, 08:39 AM
Hello eiplanner,

Depending on what equipment you already own should also influence your decision.

Do you already have a bunch of components? Resistors, caps, wires, etc.?

How about a solderless breadboard? - it enables you to easily play with the DIP version of the propeller.

Since I travel a lot, I found the 40-pin DIP Propeller Education Kit pretty handy. (http://www.parallax.com/Store/Microcontrollers/PropellerProgrammingKits/tabid/144/CategoryID/20/List/0/SortField/0/Level/a/ProductID/415/Default.aspx)

However, the kit is shy of any VGA/PS2/RCA connectors, so if you plan on interfacing to any such hardware, you'll need to purchase those separately (or hack some old junk you might have laying around) as well as more suitable resistors.

The included book does an excellent job at explaining the fundamentals of the processor, as well as the Spin programming language. However, I do think the book came to an abrupt end, but I had most of the info I needed to either play with all the pre-made objects, or give me the fundamentals needed to ask appropriate questions.

Other than that, the kit offers a lot of flexibility that you might not find in the other kits. Since it's the DIP chip on a solderless breadboard, I'm not stuck with any particular configuration. It's serving me well so far (except that I want a VGA connector now!). The one suggestion I do have is that you get a kit with the "Prop Plug", as it will offer you the most flexibility down the road.

eiplanner
01-02-2010, 07:42 AM
Thanks to all for the excellent thought out advice. I tend to be leaning towards the professional development board because of the greater number of

preconnected peripherals that I can learn about, the socketed prop and eeprom, and the larger breadboard. My hesitation in making the purchase is that

it is a very bare bones way of getting started. It doesn't come with the manuals or any extra wires and components that the education kits have. I am

wondering how much research I would be having to perform in order to get some good step by step learning information on each of the many

components on this board? Does the prop manual cover all of the components? Am I gonna become dependent on the preconnected peripherals?

Would I be better educated from a overall electronics perspective if I were to build my own pro board from scratch so that I might gain the knowledge

of how to interface, design, and set up each of the peripherals on my own?


I realize that I am probably over-thinking all of this but I would like to gain as much fundamental electronics knowledge as possible while maintaining
the ability to expand as I learn without continually purchasing redundant equipment.

markaeric
01-02-2010, 05:27 PM
eiplanner,


If you want a package that gives you everything you need to start off, including projects & tutorials, then I do suggest you purchase the Propeller Education Kit. The only thing that you'll need that won't arrive in the mail is the software (which is free). You'll be able to get down and dirty almost immediately. After a few weeks though, you will probably finding yourself wanting more components to make use of the huge repository of Objects in the Object Exchange.

eiplanner
01-03-2010, 03:38 AM
Well, it's settled. Here's what I ended up with:


- Professional Development Board

- Propeller Educational Kit

- Boe-Bot Robot Kit

- 2 433 MHz RF Transceivers

- 1 Extra 40 pin Dip Propeller Chip (For when I smoke the first one. Haha!)

Thanks to everyone for the great advice. In the end, I concluded that my decision was such a tough one, not because of which one would better
suit me, but because I was wanting all of them. So, I ended up with several. I am now anxiously awaiting their arrival. I haven't told the wife yet!

Easier to ask for forgiveness than permission...

Toby Seckshund
01-03-2010, 04:19 AM
Trust me, it ain't.

I still get the flashbacks

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Style and grace : Nil point

Post Edited (Toby Seckshund) : 1/2/2010 8:52:04 PM GMT

Cluso99
01-03-2010, 04:25 AM
eiplanner: Congratulations! We will be seeing you progress on the forum. Lots of exciting things for you now http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif

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Links to other interesting threads:

· Home of the MultiBladeProps: TriBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=786418),·RamBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=849265),·SixBlade (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=780033), website (http://bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm)
· Single Board Computer:·3 Propeller ICs·and a·TriBladeProp board (ZiCog Z80 Emulator) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=790917)
· Prop Tools under Development or Completed (Index) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=753439)
· Emulators: CPUs Z80 etc; Micros Altair etc;· Terminals·VT100 etc; (Index) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=778427) ZiCog (Z80) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=788511) , MoCog (6809) (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=811043)
· Search the Propeller forums (http://search.parallax.com/search?site=parallax&client=parallax&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=parallax&proxycustom=<HOME/>&ie=&oe=&lr=)·(uses advanced Google search)
My cruising website is: ·www.bluemagic.biz (http://www.bluemagic.biz)·· MultiBladeProp is: www.bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm (http://www.bluemagic.biz/cluso.htm)

potatohead
01-03-2010, 05:04 AM
Welcome to the club eiplanner!

(there is always having stuff shipped to work... just saying!)

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Propeller Wiki: Share the coolness! (http://propeller.wikispaces.com/)
8x8 color 80 Column NTSC Text Object (http://obex.parallax.com/objects/550/)
Safety Tip: Life is as good as YOU think it is!