View Full Version : Built my first project

11-09-2011, 03:48 AM
I would like to extend a most heart felt thank you to the parallax tech support team. Counting today, I've called them three times with questions about their products, and every time they have been fast, courteous, and detailed with their answers. Today I was trying to build the fm radio project using the propeller quickstart board, and the fm radio chip (product 910-40000) and though the project was actually for my 9-year-old son, I wanted to know how to build it myself first before diving in with him especially since I really wanted to get the connections right so as not to blow anything up when we turned it on. :)I can't see, so it was quite a challenge for the tech (I'm not sure if names are aloud) since he had to explain which pins were which (several times) since this was my first attempt at anything like this.Well, after some time, I finally got it straightened out, and after hanging up with the tech, I was able to successfully build a working fm radio on my own, which I promptly disassembled and gave the parts to my 9-year-old son to built himself. I showed him the pdf files with the diagrams in them, and had him show me each step he performed, and other than having to correct him (twice) on the pins to plug into the header, he accomplished the whole task himself with only minimal guidance from me, and then he too had a working fm radio (which he loves very much). After that came the case, we'd purchased a translucent blue case for the project, but since it didn't fit the propeller board directly, I tried to modify the case by punching two extra holes to line up with the second set of holes in the propeller board. It didn't work. I split the piece of casing in half instead, (my drill burned up several months ago, so I was trying to use molding nails and drywall screws to do the job) :) But, despite this, we still managed to get the propeller board installed snugly in the case, leaving the front open so the buttons are accessible for the functions of the radio. I cannibalized screws from a vga port to use as stand-offs on the back side of the propeller board, since the front ones are secured to the case properly using the ones intended for the original size stamp boards. It doesn't slide around at all, and my son loves the translucent blue case it's in. (now only if he can find the battery clip he lost while I was trying to punch holes in the case). :)Tomorrow I'll go to radio shack and get a stereo extender cable to run out the back of the case, so he can plug in the new radio to headphones without having to plug directly into the board every-time stressing the connections.I have to say, you guys at parallax rock, I couldn't have done this without your assistance, since both my son and wife aren't exactly pros at reading schematics. I can't thank you enough. Now paralax can claim their kits are so simple a blind person can put them together. :)And I'm sure my son will do well on his project.Thanks again.

Duane Degn
11-09-2011, 04:24 AM

This is great to hear. Thanks for sharing your experience.

I'm a big fan of the QuickStart board.

I hope you feel free to ask questions here on the forum too.

I added female headers to the Vdd and Vss holes on my QuickStart boards. I also added male headers to Vin and the Vss hole next to the Vin hole. Radio Shack sells a four battery holder that includes a switch. I soldered female headers to the wires to make a plug that connects with the male header on the QuickStart board. Four NiMH rechargeable batteries outputs just about five volts which is just right for the QuickStart. This makes it easy to have a portable QuickStart project.

I've tried to collect some QuickStart demos and projects on this thread (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?132216-Modified-QuickStart-Demos-and-QuickStart-Projects.).

Welcome to the forum.

Duane Degn
My Index

11-09-2011, 06:33 AM
softcon: Welcome to the fabulous world of the prop chip and this great forum.

Thanks for sharing your project with us. I had never thought about determining the pinout when you cannot see. It must be a real challenge, so congratulations and congratulations to your son. He is certainly the right age to get him interested in electronics.

And remember, you can always ask questions here. Just remind us you are blind so we can explain it rather than point you to schematics etc.

11-09-2011, 12:22 PM
Yeah, certainly different. I plan to build more projects, and hopefully, they all go as smoothly as this one did.. Next time, I figure on using a prototyping board, and just run the wires from the fm chip on the protoboard back to the propeller head just to keep things easier. Thanks for the encouragement, this is great, something I've always wanted to do, but figured was out of my skill set, but parallax has proved me wrong on that score. I'm definitely purchasing another one of these kits, and putting together another radio, possibly with some additional capabilities such as remembering the last station, so it returns to it upon startup, and so on. I'm excited (probably more than my son is) about working on more projects using these boards. Again, thanks for the good words, and I'll definitely keep an ongoing posting here to show other things we've worked on.

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
11-09-2011, 03:20 PM

Welcome to the forums! The FM radio project is only scratching the surface of what the Propeller chip on your Quickstart board is capable of. Don't be afraid to ask questions here as well as tech support if you get stuck. There is plenty of help here at all hours of the day and night.


Matt Gilliland
11-09-2011, 03:31 PM
Hi Softcon - Welcome to the Forums!

Go ahead, name the Tech Guy! Everybody likes a little recognition now and again- most times those guys are the "un-sung" heros -

And I second Cluso99 -
so congratulations and congratulations to your son!


11-10-2011, 02:19 PM
Well, we've run into our first issue with our shiny new fm radio. :)
After finding the battery clip, and installing it, I gave it back to my son to put in the battery. His friend was over, and they were both excited, and fighting over who would hold the thing while my son put on the battery. Well, needless to say, the battery clip is now broken. One wire is no longer attached to the battery connector. Short of soldering the wire (which I can't do due to lack of vision) is there another method for fixing this?
Radio Shack has similar battery clips, but theirs have bare wires, not the 2-pin connector the parallax one has. Is there some way I can disassemble the parallax one and install a radio shack one into it's connector?
I don't have a crimping tool for these kinds of adapters, though I have put ends on network and phone cables.
Failing that, do I need to solder the rs clip onto the board, or can I just plug the wires into the two holes on the board to the right of the pins that parallax gave us) and bend them over to make it stay connected?
Any suggestions would be great.
My son is quite upset now, so gotta get this fixed. :)
Thanks again.

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
11-10-2011, 08:03 PM
A couple ideas:

You could cut the other side of the battery clip, then strip,twist, and tape a new 9v battery clip matching up the colors of the leads. (Should be correct) -- Radio shack has a pack of the 9v battery clips for around 3 bucks. (Also, any old, unused 9v toy will have a clip that could be recycled.

Also, you could contact Jim Carey at Parallax (Sales Manager) and get them to sell you a replacement clip. I'm actually a little surprised they aren't listed as a stock item.


11-11-2011, 01:09 AM
Ahh, sometimes it's the simple stuff we miss. I can splice as you suggest, done that plenty of times with other things. Should have thought of that.
Thanks for the suggestion. Radio shack for their plugs, and then just cut the other one off the parallax 9-volt end, strip both of them, then reconnect, poof, instant extended battery lead. Perfect.
Thank you very much, don't know why I didn't think of that *grumble*
That makes me happy, and my son too I'm sure. Love this forum.