View Full Version : First Spin Podcast - For those who've NEVER programmed/worked with Props before

11-15-2011, 04:58 AM
Hi everyone!

We've been longtime fans and supporters of Parallax and the Propeller, and are releasing a podcast called First Spin (http://firstspin.tv/) where I (@atdiy) learn about the Propeller and how to program in Spin. I have had ZERO experience in any sort of programming/coding and have only recently started dabbling in self-taught electronics. We thought it'd be a good idea to document my Q/A sessions as I figure out how to expand on what my hardware creations can do (and of course, share that).

This 30-minute podcast assumes extremely little to no experience coding and we are here to ask/answer the questions that experienced programmers may take for granted. But, for experienced programmers, this may also examine more closely the details you may have chosen to skip before. A little something for everyone!

You can find this on http://firstspin.tv (http://firstspin.tv/) and it'll be released every Tuesday starting 11/15 (today/tomorrow depending on time) :)

If you have any suggestions for questions or want to add to what was said, let us know - we'd love to hear from you!

The Toymaker (@tymkrs)

Ken Gracey
11-15-2011, 05:47 AM
Hello Tymkrs,

Most importantly, welcome to the forums! You must have known that we're expecting an massive increase in Propeller newcomers in the next few months. Your Podcasts will be most useful to these people. Concurrent with your efforts Gordon McComb is building us a "Getting Started with Parallax" Google site with simple code examples - it'll be a nice compliment to your work. Gordon's work is done and he's busy uploading it to the Google site one or two pages per day with expected completion this week.

Just say it like you see it from the eyes of a newcomer, good or bad, easy or difficult, fun or drudgery.

Looking forward to your contribution and interested in helping out. Everybody welcome Tymkrs!


Ken Gracey

11-15-2011, 08:20 AM
Welcome to the forums bout time

11-15-2011, 08:27 AM
Welcome to the forums bout time

Hah thanks for the welcome :D It has been a long time coming hasn't it!

11-15-2011, 12:44 PM

This should be exciting!! The propeller driven media blitz continues!!

Bad Greek all for the love of LEDs!! Awesome! This should be fun!

Hi Roy!

Jessica Uelmen
11-15-2011, 03:31 PM
Just listened to the first podcast - way cool! Welcome to the forums, and thanks for sharing!

As Ken said, these should be immensely beneficial to those new to the Propeller. The format is clean and the Q&A was most excellent.

I look forward to more!


Chris Savage
11-15-2011, 04:13 PM
We've also added your to our Propeller Resource Index (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?111166-Propeller-Resource-Index) for those looking for information on getting started with the Propeller chip.

11-15-2011, 04:43 PM
Welcome to the Parallax forums! Your podcast sure sounds promising! Will check it out soon -

I have to ditto graffix, though... 'bout time y'all showed up here!


11-15-2011, 07:09 PM
It's audio which makes it convenient to listen to in the background. I subscribed.

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
11-15-2011, 07:23 PM

Welcome to the forums! and the Propeller! There is plenty of help here for you and we'll have you "spinning" before long!


11-15-2011, 07:38 PM
I thought the day would never come, when you guys joined the forum.

Welcome to the forums!!


11-15-2011, 11:03 PM
Thanks everyone for the encouragement and support! I'm looking forward to learning from the community ^o^

11-15-2011, 11:11 PM
Glad to see you have it out there! Keep up the good work.


11-16-2011, 02:10 AM
Thank you, every bit of help is appreciated, keep it up

11-18-2011, 12:25 AM
Thanks :) And I hope that anyone who's as noobie at it as I am lets me know if we're making sense or need to explain ideas in a better manner

11-23-2011, 01:08 AM
Happy Tuesday all! Another First Spin is out - this time covering the General I/O pins, VDD, VSS, EEPROM, BOEn, and a bit of RESn. We talk about when these would be used, when they would not be, and include some coverage of pull up and pull down resistors. The 30 minute podcast can be found on ITunes or here:


We'd love to hear any feedback about what we covered, and maybe any future questions :)


11-23-2011, 08:36 PM
I love it.

It's great just to hear people discussing the propeller.

And I love your perspective of coming from the angle of a total n00b ... keep it coming!


Jorge P
11-24-2011, 08:59 AM
Just finished listening to both episodes, I will be tuning in next Tuesday. I enjoyed the questions and answers to the BOEn, and why to use it. I never really thought about it, I just always used it because that's what the schematic called for.

Is there a time of day that you have scheduled for the next Tuesdays episode?

11-24-2011, 11:12 AM
Glad you enjoyed it! We work the third shift (4pm-8am CST) and so if we're ambitious, we manage to get it up towards the tail end of what comprises as our Monday (technically Tuesday morning), or it becomes the first thing we work on Tuesday @ 4pm - plus or minus a couple of hours. If you have twitter, you can follow us @tymkrs and as soon as anything comes up, we announce it there!

And again, thanks so much for the feedback!

11-30-2011, 12:43 AM
Huzzah! Another Tuesday, another First Spin! I ask more questions about BOEn, RESn, XI, XO pins, what happens when they are used, what they are useful for, what limitations they have, and how to connect them. We cover clock speeds, clock register settings, internal clocks, and phase lock loops. We also touch upon changing clock speeds in the middle of code and whether that’s feasible or reasonable.

I think we even start talking about how to code the external/internal clock and the differences between crystals! All this and show notes can be found here:


11-30-2011, 01:40 AM
Sounds great! I think it's an excellent idea to put the noobie in the spotlight. I know when I was starting out on this, I felt so stupid, I didn't even know what questions to ask. So it's awesome to follow somebody struggling from the very start. Keep up the good work.

BTW, what do you mean by "wetware hacker"? Are you guys doing bio/chem stuff, too?

11-30-2011, 05:23 AM
Whisker plays with genetics (as have I) in our little mice, and Whisker creates AI, which eventually could one day become wetware :).

I personally have done and am conducting research as just a neuroscientist and now nurse :)

12-06-2011, 12:22 PM
Huzzah! I continue asking about external crystals and internal clocks, the clkset function, what happens when these parameters are "accessed" and what they are useful for. We go through the chip specifications while talking about chip model names, PLLs again, VDD, RAM/ROM. We talk about how what the RAM and ROM are used for and Addie ambitiously asks about paging programs through hub memory and cog memory. We also touch on instructions and how much memory longs/words/bytes take up as well as optimizing clock cycles!

Show notes and the like can be found here: http://www.firstspin.tv/2011/12/06/first-spin-episode-003-first-lines-of-code/ - let us know if we need to cover anything else or general commentry welcome :)

12-07-2011, 01:37 AM
The audio thing is great, but I think it would be even greater if you could do this with a video YouTube-type of thing. You could keep the audio but just add images of the code being discussed perhaps with a pencil hovering around what's specifically being discussed at the moment. For example, in your latest audio clip, when you talk about the CON block, etc, if we could see that code and maybe where it's located inside the program relative to all the other blocks of code, that would be a major help, especially for beginners. As I said, you could use the same audio that you've already recorded and just add the visuals to the sound track.

Very nice job.

12-07-2011, 04:06 AM
Yeah, I think eventually it'll move to involving video - but we wanted to do this for those who couldn't watch and could only listen. The blogposts I link to will have code that I actually work on :) Good suggestion though and we'll see what we can do!

12-14-2011, 01:31 AM
Huzzah! Another Tuesday! Another First Spin! I jump into questions about hardware connections (USB to TTL Serial), bootup procedure, and runtime procedure. We touch on the exciting relationship between Radio Shack and Parallax as well as the much anticipated Propeller Board of Education! And we also talk about the use of Cog 0, the boot loader, and on how programs access pins and the logic involved.

Link can be found here: http://www.firstspin.tv/2011/12/13/first-spin-episode-004-bootup-and-runtime/

And if there's anything you want to contribute, please do! I look at all of the comments!

12-20-2011, 03:50 PM
Happy Tuesday! We have yet another awesome First Spin episode:

We start this First Spin with a quick review of the shutdown procedures, and then move into looking closer at internal cog happenings. Specifically, pin directions, pin outputs, logic gates, direction register, pin inputs, counter A, counter B, video generators, and some examples of when those would be used.

We also touch on what happens if multiple cogs want to address a single pin and give examples of when this would be useful. I, as always, asks ambitiously about intercog communication and how pin communications are used for effecting change in other cogs!


We'd love to hear your feedback - both here and on http://firstspin.tv - any comments, questions, snide remarks even - do let us know :)

12-27-2011, 08:50 PM
Hi all :) Another Tuesday - another first spin!

This week, we finish up the block diagram by talking about the system counter/clock, issues with timing drifting, data bus, address bus, addressing, cog access to hub memory, and global variables vs local variables. We also go into the timing involved in cog access to hub memory, execution of commands, and talk about the role of lock bits in the entire process. A lot of interesting new bits of information!

It can be found and commented on here:


Let us know what you think :)

Jorge P
12-28-2011, 02:18 AM
I just noticed on your FirstSpin.tv site, you do not have a meta "description" or "keywords" sections. Search engines might not add your site without them. Once you add those html tags you should manually add your site to the top search engines http://www.google.com/webmasters/ , http://dmoz.org , Yahoo, and http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster

You should rank #1 for the search term "first spin" or "firstspin". I would recommend that the meta tags should have at least

<meta name="keywords" content="first spin, firstspin, parllax, propeller, microcontroller, diy" />
<meta name="description" content="Your description here" />
<meta name="author" content="Author names here" />
<meta name="copyright" content="Your copyright info here" />

So have your site administrator add those tags as well as whatever those top four search engines require.

All other engines will most likely pull information from dmoz.org .

Jorge P
12-28-2011, 02:24 AM
Another note, you might also want to add ratings information to your site http://www.fosi.org/icra/

01-03-2012, 11:14 PM
Another Tuesday - Another First Spin!

This week we talk about Addie having done some coding with LEDs, all of which can be found on the blog (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/archive), videos (http://youtube.com/whisk0r), or forums (http://tymkrs.com/forum). We talk about the shared resources: common and mutually exclusive. And we've pretty much covered the system clock and cogs that we've covered in depth in the last few episodes. Addie also clarifies a few points about hub and bus timing being half the clock rate.
But more exciting! We finally start talking about the Cog RAM Special Purpose Registers. We go through PAR, cognew, and Addie finally learns the significance of CNT, waitcnt, and dira which has been used in her programs. She talks about her program's use of it and how to think about it in an easy-to-understand manner. We also touch on the use of ~ and ~~ when setting pins as inputs or outputs but also talk about using binary and masks and why they need to be set.

It can be found here: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/01/03/first-spin-episode-007-common-resources-and-registers/

Let us know what you think :)

01-10-2012, 11:23 PM
This week we finish talking about addressing different LEDs with binary numbers and masks, but continue our epic saga of registers of INA, OUTA, CTRA, FRQA, PHSA, VCFG, VSCL. Whisker and Roy attempt to discuss teaching binary, hexadecimal, and boolean OR functions to a resistant Addie. We talk about where these special registers are, how they can be accessed, SPR, and when all of these are used/how to use them.

We also start talking about the Hub and about when the hub gives a cog access to mutually-exclusive resources, and we look a bit into the number of clock cycles involved the process. This gets interesting because even though the hub moves on to different cogs, instructions can still be run in the background.

All found here:

Let us know what you think and if there's anything we should change :)

01-12-2012, 09:02 PM
Huzzah! Another Tuesday, another First Spin! ...

I am really enjoying these conversations about the props architecture. Your podcasts thus far have been very educational. Thanks to you and the boys for putting these together.

01-17-2012, 11:43 PM
Most of the remainder of Chapter 1 is a detailed repeat of the parts of propeller architecture that we’ve gone to, so we finally move onto chapter 2! We start talking about the CON, OBJ, VAR sections going into great detail on what the Object Exchange is, and what objects are good for. We also go into the use of the equal sign:

We go into the CON Section and talk about when constants are used, how they are used, and discuss many of them in more detail: POSX, NEGX, PI, _XINFREQ, etc. Stacks are also discussed in relation to cogs and local variables and giving everyone their space!

Another Tuesday - Another First Spin!: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/01/17/first-spin-episode-009-starting-the-language-reference/

PS - Thanks to JacGoudsmit for his corrections and thanks to RogerSyd for the continued support!

01-25-2012, 12:07 AM
Hi all! This week on First Spin we continue talking through the constants in the CON section such as Float, False, True, Trunc, POSX, NEGX. In the VAR section: global variables vs local variables, stacks, byte, long, words. In the OBJ section: we discuss the Parallax Serial Terminal, opening multiple PST windows, and different ways they can be used. In the Pub/Pri section: port B secret passageways. And in the DAT block: assembly code and what a program could use with this.


Let us know what you think :) Comments, questions, even snide remarks!

02-01-2012, 07:55 AM
On First Spin this week, we finish overviewing datablocks, “Categorical Listing of Propeller Spin Language”, and we talk about COGID, COGSTOP, COGINIT, COGNEW, Lock bit commands, WAITCNT, WAITPNE, WAITPEQ. As always we cover examples of when to use them, how to use them, and why we would use them.

We then go into flow control, the use of CASE, IF, ELSEIF, ELSEIFNOT, ELSE, and the use of == vs :=. Note, when using CASE, it is possible to use specific ranges (instead of <2, >5, you could do 0-2, 5-10). We finish with how to use CASE and what its benefits are over other flow control commands.


02-14-2012, 10:05 PM
Did you guys miss us?! We had a bit of scheduling difficulty in getting the three of us together at once, but we are back again!

This week we start with horrible Spin jokes and continue looking at flow control commands. We cover the intricacies of Repeat, From, To, Step, Until, While, Next, Quit, Return, and Abort. As always, we give examples of when to use these commands, how, and why we would choose these. We also cover how these direct the “flow” of the program.

We cover how the PST and serial fit into the learning process and Whisker and Roy briefly talk about error traps. Addie also discusses her work with the Parallax RC Servo and the code involved (FRQA, CTRA).


02-18-2012, 11:54 PM
@ Tymkrs,

This weekend I for the first time began listening to your poscasts. Wow, wish such had been available when I first was aware of the Prop several years back. The podcasts sure would have been helpful to a newomer to the Prop.

One complaint about the First Spin web site: for us older folks, the small type, light blue and orange text is almost unreadable (for me at least). Otherwise, excellent! I have to use a magnifying glass to read the iMac screen, especially in the daytime when the room is well illuminated.

One question. I note you have 13 episodes (000..012); how many more are planned? (Oooooh, did I hear 'forever'?)

02-19-2012, 02:40 AM
http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?138039-Searching-for-First-Spin-thread-mentiion <-- Hey Harley! Answered some of your questions here, and did see the comment on the light blue and orange text. Fortunately it's just a barebones summary of what is discussed on the show, but if you press CTRL on your keyboard and use your mousewheel to scroll up, the text will increase in size.

It's part of a default template that we're working with and once we have a little time to dive into its guts, we'll see about making the colors a bit more eye-friendly (sadly for most, orange is my favorite color :)).

Number of episodes planned - until we all become experts :D

02-19-2012, 04:47 PM
@ Tymkrs,

Colors might be 'pretty', but legibility comes first, imho. Small letters, in faint colors might look pretty when looking at a page of text, but can it be read without eye-strain? is the question. My favorite color is blue, but not for text. Good ol' black and white has the best contrast and readability for most people.

Good to hear the episodes are planned "..until we all become experts..". That's a good plan. I can wait for all those episodes, for sure. Thanks for all your efforts o your journey.

02-21-2012, 11:04 PM
Another Tuesday - Another First Spin!

On First Spin this week, we talk about Memory and the commands/variables associated with it such as Byte, Word, Long, Bytefill, Wordfill, LongFill, Bytemove, Wordmove, Longmove. We talk about when you would use this and give some examples of the benefits of being able to "copy" and "paste" data with a simple command.

We finish up with Lookup, LookupZ, Lookdown, LookdownZ, Strsize, Strcomp and touch on the ability to pick and choose certain data and even compare it against something else!

I also talk about my foray into xbee awesome:

02-29-2012, 01:34 AM
This week we continue our fabulous Spin jokes and get into Directives. We discuss strings, constants, float, round, and trunc - giving the definition, example of when to use them, and why we use them! We discuss what "at compile time" means and examine some code that uses these directives.
Interestingly, using the dat section, you can substitute chunks of memory for other chunks on the fly!


Let us know what you think about the show, if you have any questions, and whether we can help clear anything up for you!

03-07-2012, 12:10 AM
On First Spin we continue with our “string” of “constant” jokes! We finish up discussing the directive section by talking about file, and about using pointers with the dat section. We discuss how you can use file and I tackle whether you can code recompilation into the code. Meta.

We continue with Registers and quickly go over dira, dirb, ina, inb, outa, outb, cnt – all ones we’ve done before. But now we start talking about counters and go into how the counters work.

CTRA sets the mode, and depending on that mode, FRQA value will get accumulated into PHSA based on the mode. So simple modes in CTR say that each clock cycle, FRQA is added into PHSA and PHSA wraps around according to its setting.

We also talk about two counters modulating a single pin. Then Whisker and Roy talk about a number of things that Addie didn’t understand (haha). But we do bring the conversation back to the work done with the Parallax RC servo and the use of counters in it. A meaty episode and worth listening if you want to know how counters work!


03-14-2012, 12:15 AM
This week on First Spin, we finish out the Registers by talking about VCFG, VSCL, PAR, and SPR with some examples of when these would be used. We then go into Constants - all of which have been previously covered - TRUE, FALSE, POSX, NEGX, and PI. And then we discuss Result and how it's magically there even when not stated.

And before going into Unary Operators, we discuss Addie's work on the Xbees and interfacing them with the Propeller. She talks about how she gets an xbee to control an rc servo and how to control her heart led project. Lots of learning experiences!


03-20-2012, 06:04 PM
This week on First Spin we remind everyone about the Parallax Expo (woohoo!) and then start on Unary Operators! Addie gets a bit confused by the subtle difference between pre and post increments/decrements - but our resident experts are patient and explain wonderfully! We also hash out sign-extensions!
We go through:

+ : Add
- : Subtract
- -X : Pre-decrement
X- - : Post-decrement
++X : Pre-increment
X++ : Post-increment
^^ : Square root
|| : Absolute Value
~ / ~~ : Sign Extension
(--) Example discussed:

a := X- - + 10 X = 2
a := X + 10 and X = X - 1
a := 2 + 10 and X = 2 - 1
a := 12 X = 1

a := - -X + 10 X = 2
a := (X-1) + 10 and X = 2-1
a := 1 + 10 and X = 1
a := 11 X = 1
(++) Example discussed:

a := X++ + 10 X = 2
a := 12 X = 3

a:= ++X + 10 X=2
a := 13 X = 3
Sign Extension Discussion:

If you set dira/ina to ~ this sets all bits in a 32 long to 0 (though 32 depends on the context).
For example, Outa[4..5]~ will only set bits 4 and 5 to 0
~~ = -1 so if you set dira/ina to ~~, this turns all of the bits ON in a 32 bit long
With 1, the first bit of the 32 bit is ON. With -1, all bits are ON.
If you put it (~ or ~~) in front of a variable (X) it sign-extends. So if you have a 8-bit value, positive or negative, then you use sign extension to sign extend it into a full 32 bit value.
So if you had just a BYTE (0-7) as a variable (vs WORD (8-16) or LONGs(17-32)). This lets you take a variable from a BYTE or WORD and ensures that the signed value (positive or negative) of the number is properly copied over to a LONG.


03-28-2012, 01:55 AM
This week we talk again about the Parallax Expo and we continue with Unary Operators! We continue with:

?: Random number (forward/reverse) - we discuss how it works and how someone could try to get as random a number as possible.

|<: Decode Value - Given a number from 0-31 it will give you the resultant value that is that bit turned on in the long. So if you give it 31, the 31st bit will be turned on and everything else not. Ex. Pin := |< 3 will set bit 3 of Pin ON and all other bits are off.

>|: Encode Long - This will give you the highest bit that is turned on in the long you are looking at and adds 1 to that value. Example below:

a := |< 16......will give you a long into a where bit number 16 is turned on and everything else is off
b := >| a........b will equal 17. (It will be a binary number valued at 17)
!: BITWISE NOT - Whatever value you give it, it takes the bits in that value and switches them to the opposite. All of the 0's become 1's and the 1's become 0's. We get into binary nuttiness with this:

!1 == -2 -----> A 1 in binary = all 0's and bottom bit is 1. This turns all into 1's and then the bottom one is 0. This makes it equal -2 (whaaaaat?!). Cue the crazily confusing (but eventually elucidating) discussion on binary signage.

Assuming a 4-bit number: We start at 0, we count up, when we get to 7, that's 0111. After 7, when we add 1 to it, instead of becoming 8, it wraps around and becomes 1000 which is -8. The top bit equals the sign and the max number. The rest of the bits determine how far away we are from the maximum negative number.

The top bit is a 1 which means it's a negative number. If you have a 4 bit value: 0001, and do !0001, that would equal 1110. Assuming the top bit represents the sign of the value (+ or -). So the top "1" makes it negative in value. Take the rest of the bits, figure out what that equals, and then subtract that from the maximum (of the side the sign is (in a 4bit number that's either 7 for the positive side or -8 for the negative side).

Example. !0001 == 1110. The range is -8 to 7. 1 represents - and 110 = 6. So then -8 + 6 = -2.

Example. !001 == 110. The range is -4 to 3. 1 represents - and 10 = 2. So then -4 + 2 = -2.

So then any number that is all 1's except for the last bit which is 0 will always equal -2.


04-04-2012, 01:36 AM
This week on First Spin, we finish up the Unary Operators by covering NOT, @, @@, and in doing so tackle the idea of boolean values with Addie. We also go over the small details involved in @ and @@ addressing.

We also start on the binary operators with =, :=, the distinction between := and ==, +, +=, and the subtleties involved!


04-12-2012, 03:20 AM
Woo! Since we've been on the road, I didn't quite have time to post that we put up First Spin yesterday - so apologies for that. But here's this week's FIrst Spin and see you all soon Friday!

This week we continue talking about MANY binary operators and the assignment of results. We cover, analyze, and give examples for the following binary operators: +=, -=, *=, **=, /=, //=, #>, #>=, <#, <#=, ~>, ~>=, <<=, >>=, <-=, ->=, and ><=. Some show notes below!Arithmetic Shift Right:

1010 ~> 1101
0101 ~> 0010
Bitwise Shift Left/Right – Add in a 0 depending on direction shifted, whereas arithmetic shift right adds in the signed bit of the value. So if the binary number’s signed bit is 1, it will add in a 1 and if a binary number’s signed bit is 0, it will add in a 0 (like the example above).

Bitwise Rotate Left:

1110 <-= 1101

Bitwise Rotate Right:

1110 ->= 0111

Bitwise Reverse:

1110 ><= 0111

04-12-2012, 11:16 AM
Hi Tymkrs

I've just listened to the first couple of episodes and they're great.
You have asked some of the questions I have as a beginner and it's nice to now have an answer.

I'll keep listening and hope that some of it sinks in :)

04-18-2012, 10:15 AM
Awesome Nurbit - glad you like it!!! There's lots of repetition since it takes me a little to learn this too, but if you have any questions, post them here or on FirstSpin.tv and I can help ya answer it (or at least Roy and Whisker can hehe)

This week on First Spin, we continue talking about MORE binary operators and go through: &=, |=, ^=, AND=, OR=, ===, <>=, <=, >=, =<=, and =>=

AND: 0 and 0 is 0. 1 and 1 is 1. 0 and 1 or 1 and 0 are 0.

OR: 0 and 0 is 0. 1 and 1 is 1. 0 and 1 or 1 and 0 are 1.

XOR: 0 and 0 is 0. 1 and 1 is 0. 0 and 1 or 1 and 0 are 1.

X===Y >>> If X = Y, TRUE, if not then FALSE is placed into X.

If X<>=Y >>> If X<>Y, TRUE, if not then FALSE goes into X.


04-24-2012, 10:26 PM
This week on First Spin, we go through all of the Syntax Symbols! This includes %, %%< $, ", _, #, ., .., :, |, \, (), [], {}, {{}}, ', ''.

We mostly know all of this already, but this is a great review for when you'll see these symbols and when they'll be used!


05-01-2012, 11:44 PM
This week on First Spin, we talk about the Parallax Expo and cover a lot of the cool projects that were seen in the booths. We had an amazing time talking to all of the different makers and watching the different projects. Thanks to Parallax for an awesome Expo! We will be sure to make it out to the next one!

Addie has been working on working with different peripherals and sensors sold by Parallax and recently, she's been working on the GPS module, altimeter module, and gyroscope module. Whisker, Roy and Addie discuss the different approaches to these types of sensors and Addie discusses working with the gyroscope module. There's also an Addie style explanation of I2C!


05-12-2012, 08:04 AM
Oof da! Sorry for not posting this week's first spin!! (it was posted on Tuesday, but I must've been scatterbrained :p)

This week on First Spin, we talk about the modules and the code/objects involved again! We go specifically into accelerometers, what they do, what they are, and some of the subtleties involved in the data gained from them. We discuss the basics of how to interface accelerometers with gyroscopes or compass modules, and talk about the feasibility of basic projects to learn how to use these together. We discuss different methods of figuring out how to measure wind speed by counting the number of rotations or overgineering it, Addie style. We talk about what a mems device is and then go into what First Spin will cover in the next few weeks. We also look at the altimeter module’s code. Less manual, more specific modules!!


Roy just let me know :p

05-15-2012, 10:51 PM
This week on First Spin we decide to talk about the Ping))) Ultrasonic Distance Sensor and we talk about the basics of what it does and hash out how the Ping Sensor actually works (because you know, Addie has to know those details):

It takes a little for Addie to understand it. We discuss good electronic habits and the subtleties needed to get the Ping Sensor to do its job.

The following blog post is the text explanation of what is discussed!

A[/URL]nd here's where you can find the episode:
[url]http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/05/15/first-spin-episode-025-ping%E2%84%A2/ (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/23127813862/how-the-ping-distance-sensor-actually-works)

Chris Savage
05-16-2012, 09:02 PM
I received a question via e-mail in regards to the most recent first spin regarding the function of the PING))) sensor. I just wanted to clarify the point made and the question.

The question is, "When the PING))) times out, is the return value unique and meaning it is past the range of the sensor?" This was based on the statement in the podcast that when a timeout occurs, the PING))) brings the signal pin low and that this value/range is, "Well beyond its maximum distance for measuring". To clarify when the PING))) times out, it is at the maximum range it can operate. So the value is considered the maximum range value, not well past that value. The timeout occurs at 18.5mS.

In trying to find the point of confusion I also sensed there was some confusion as to the operation of the PING))) and the result of not bringing the signal pin low. Again, for clarification:

To use the PING))) your microcontroller must trigger the signal pin by bringing it high for at least 2uS (typically 5uS). Once the signal pin goes low there is a holdoff time of 750uS to allow for the microcontroller to prepare to have its I/O pin become an input and detect the rise of the signal pin, which happens when the ultrasonic burst has been transmitted. Here's where things can vary depending on the MCU...the question was why can't you just make the pin an input? Well you can. An internal 10K pull-down resistor on the PING))) will return the signal pin back to its low state when not driven high. The potential problem is that a microcontroller fast enough to get the pin to an input and read it may in fact see a high before the pin is pulled low. However this depends on the microconroller and the code. As stated, there is a holdoff time and if the MCU takes more than a few uS to be ready the pin will go low on its own.

Once the signal pin is driven high by the PING))) the time it remains high represents twice the flight time (round trip) to the object, so one half of that is used to calculate the distance. It might also help to know that the signal pin has a series 500 ohm resistor to protect the I/O pin in the event of a programming error that might cause the PING))) and the MCU to be driving the signal pin at the same time. I hope this helps clarify some points on PING))) operation.

05-23-2012, 04:13 AM
Thanks for the clarifications Chris, a lot of good and specific information there. Worth putting an addendum into the blog at some point - thanks!


This week on First Spin we finish up looking at the Ping))) Ultrasonic Distance Sensor and we talk about how the OBJECT code correlates to how the sensor works. We hash out the different PUB sections and all of the individual commands – when to use them, how to use them, etc. We also hash through the conversion of units and how to avoid the use of floating point math.The following blogposts can be helpful for understanding each step:

http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/23232206989/ping-sensor-code-analysis-1-of-3 (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/23232206989/ping-sensor-code-analysis-1-of-3)
http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/23294000615/ping-sensor-code-analysis-2-of-3 (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/23294000615/ping-sensor-code-analysis-2-of-3)
http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/23355428594/ping-sensor-code-analysis-3-of-3 (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/23355428594/ping-sensor-code-analysis-3-of-3)

05-30-2012, 01:47 AM
This week on First Spin we talk about the steps needed to install Brad’s BST on the Mac that will allow Addie to work on Spin and the Propeller from the new studio! We discuss access of serial terminals and explain how to get it working on Brad’s BST. Module wise, we went over the 5-position switch from Parallax – hardware and software – and discussed the Kickstart code that can be found here: http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/27801
If you have any questions, let us know!


05-30-2012, 02:27 PM
Hey, haven't posted here about the podcast, but figured it was about time I did.
You guys are great. I have to thank you for going through chapter 1 with such thoroughness. I'd of course read the manual from end to end, but having the pictures explained sure made things a lot more clear. I'd listened to the first few podcasts, then forgot about them for a while, so I missed the announcement about the expo, which really bites, since it was only about 3 hours from here, and we really wanted to go (Well, ok, I really wanted to go, and the wife and kids would have come along just for the fun of it), but by the time I discovered it on the parallax site, it was already a week gone *cry*. But, seriously, with the show, I like the way you folks are handling things, it gives me more details than I can get from reading manuals/documentation alone.
Keep the episodes coming, and I'll try to keep listening (in a timely manner this time so I don't miss anything like the expo again) :)

06-05-2012, 11:19 PM
Hey Softcon - thanks super much for the feedback :D!! It was good for us to go through the Propeller Manual especially since most of it intimidated /me/ when I first opened it (hence only getting to the preface before the show haha). Since we've changed our focus a little bit (ie the sensors/peripherals), let us know if we're touching the details you think need to be touched, or if we need to go more indepth! And that being said:

This week on First Spin we talk about RC servos! We discuss what an rc servo is, when you'd use it, the hardware involved, and the pulse width modulation involved in getting an rc servo to work. We discuss two different ways of coding, one from Parallax's RC Servo (http://www.parallax.com/StoreSearchResults/tabid/768/List/0/SortField/4/ProductID/102/Default.aspx?txtSearch=rc+servo) page and the other from Parallax's Kickstarts (http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/900-00005) page. One uses counters and the other uses the servo OBJ found in PropTool and on the Object Exchange - so we go through how to use these and how they work. Further information on rc servos and the code analysis referenced can be found:

Referenced: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/16924655004/parallax-rc-servo-part-ii-code-analysis-2-2
Discussed on Show: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/16979651524/parallax-rc-servo-part-iii-my-own-code
Kickstart Code discussed: http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/900-00005

Episode: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/06/05/first-spin-episode-028-servos-are-easy/

06-13-2012, 01:42 AM
This week on First Spin we firstly apologize for the sound quality! 10 minutes before we were about to start recording, our audio mixer decided to completely die on us. We even opened it up and hacked around on it to see if there were any capacitors we could replace. And about 2 minutes from finishing our episode, the recording software just quit without leaving us a temp file. This happened TWICE. So this particular recording is the third iteration! We are working towards getting our set up back up and running - thank you for your patience!

But it is a fantastic episode where we discuss the GPS module that Parallax provides! We talk about the satellite system that helps to ensure GPS working, the GPS module hardware, and analyze the Kickstart Code initially. Since we want more information, we also analyzed how to make your main function modular and how to get more information by reading through the OBJ. We talk about the difference between Vcc, Vdd, Vss. We also talk about Ascii tables and pre-programmed serial terminal "commands" and provide some good reminder tips on serial terminals. And we finish up with touching on the new polar heart rate module available at Parallax! A very good, though hard-earned episode :).
Here are the links we go through:

Kickstart Code (Referenced in podcast) : http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/28500
Analysis of Kickstart Code: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/20352168988/parallax-gps-internal-antenna
Own code: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/20623727935/parallax-gps-internal-antenna-adding-altitude-speed
Own code Part II (Referenced in podcast): http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/20655281847/parallax-gps-internal-antenna-adding-altitude-speed
Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/06/12/first-spin-episode-029-gps-module/ (http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/06/05/first-spin-episode-028-servos-are-easy/)

06-13-2012, 02:39 AM
....But why provide a link to the previous episode?

06-13-2012, 08:58 AM
Heh, just to top off all of the technical issues we had with this episode! Just changed it - thanks!

06-13-2012, 04:40 PM

The text for the link implies episode 29, but I tried it severaltimes and still get episode 28, Servos are Easy. Sorry, no prize yet.

06-14-2012, 10:27 AM
*Edit* So I was just trying to edit it, but I guess it posted it as a new post. Harley, I've tried the link this time before putting my foot in my mouth again and it should work. Weird how before it didn't work since the link looked right....very weird, but appropriately so. Let's try this again shall we!!

This week on First Spin we firstly apologize for the sound quality! 10 minutes before we were about to start recording, our audio mixer decided to completely die on us. We even opened it up and hacked around on it to see if there were any capacitors we could replace. And about 2 minutes from finishing our episode, the recording software just quit without leaving us a temp file. This happened TWICE. So this particular recording is the third iteration! We are working towards getting our set up back up and running - thank you for your patience!

But it is a fantastic episode where we discuss the GPS module that Parallax provides! We talk about the satellite system that helps to ensure GPS working, the GPS module hardware, and analyze the Kickstart Code initially. Since we want more information, we also analyzed how to make your main function modular and how to get more information by reading through the OBJ. We talk about the difference between Vcc, Vdd, Vss. We also talk about Ascii tables and pre-programmed serial terminal "commands" and provide some good reminder tips on serial terminals. And we finish up with touching on the new polar heart rate module available at Parallax! A very good, though hard-earned episode :).
Here are the links we go through:

Kickstart Code (Referenced in podcast) : http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/28500
Analysis of Kickstart Code: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/20352168988/parallax-gps-internal-antenna
Own code: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/20623727935/parallax-gps-internal-antenna-adding-altitude-speed
Own code Part II (Referenced in podcast): http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/20655281847/parallax-gps-internal-antenna-adding-altitude-speed
Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/06/12/first-spin-episode-029-gps-module/

06-14-2012, 07:57 PM
Thank you Tymkrs,

Sorry to bug you all, but these episodes are greatly looked forward to listening to.

Congratulations on "..getting Tab B into Slot A..". I have no idea what it takes to generate and post these episodes. Only, just planning What to talk about for an episode would be a chore for me. You guys are great. Thanks.

06-20-2012, 02:03 AM
This week on First Spin we talk about using the compass module! As with the other modules, we discuss the hardware and what the pins are used for. And then we go into two different methods of coding to get the information necessary: one found on the kickstart page and one found on the product page. We discuss, as last week, using ascii tables in making serial terminals look good. Most of the code is for the I2C information so we don’t go into the latter halves of the code – though we could if anyone is interested!

Pictures: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/22237323716/parallax-compass-module-3-axis-hmc5883l-29133
Data Collection: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/22258810035/parallax-compass-module-3-axis-hmc5883l-29133-part
Episode: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/06/19/first-spin-episode-030-compass-module/

( (http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/06/19/first-spin-episode-030-compass-module/)And I tested the link this time!)

06-27-2012, 01:14 AM
This week on First Spin we talk about the Passive Infrared Motion Sensor (PIR), what it is, what it means, and different ways to use this. We discuss the hardware in terms of pins, sensitivity, and touch upon the internals. And then we go through two methods of code (again) by looking at the KickStart code and then code Addie wrote which modified the KickStart code. She changes the serial terminal code from Parallax Serial Terminal to FullDuplexSerial and we go through the differences between the two in terms of syntax and control codes. We also touch upon the differences in code between getting a Ping sensor and a PIR sensor working and communicating with the Propeller.

Code Referenced:
Kickstart Code: http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/555-28027
Addie's Code: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/25650529744/parallax-pir-motion-sensor
Parallax Serial Terminal vs FullDuplexSerial: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/25786123323/noob-view-on-differences-between-two-serial-terminal

E (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/25786123323/noob-view-on-differences-between-two-serial-terminal)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/06/26/first-spin-episode-031-pir-motion-sensor/

A (http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/06/26/first-spin-episode-031-pir-motion-sensor/)nd if you haven't seen Ken and Chip's Interview yet:


07-04-2012, 01:12 AM
This week on First Spin we are super excited to talk with Joe Grand (http://www.grandideastudio.com/portfolio/emic-2-text-to-speech-module/) about his latest creation in partnership with Parallax – the text-to-speech module Emic 2 (http://www.parallax.com/Store/Accessories/Sound/tabid/164/CategoryID/38/List/0/SortField/0/Level/a/ProductID/105/Default.aspx)! It has been a LONG time coming and we discuss the history of the module as well as the hardware and software that goes into making it work. It’s even simple enough for Addie to use! We show a number of demonstrations including the simple text to speech capability, singing capability (http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Downloads/docs/prod/sens/30016-Singing-emic2_demo1.wav), and hold a conversation with Emic2 http://www.firstspin.tv/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif .You’ll notice this is Episode 33 – we’re actually posting it a week early to coincide with the release of Emic2!!

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/07/03/first-spin-episode-033-emic-2-text-to-speech-module/

07-04-2012, 05:53 PM
Wanted to add this video in conjunction with yesterday's First Spin Podcast. Enjoy!


07-04-2012, 06:36 PM
Wow... that's just too cool!
I love the SIDcog + Emic2 music part :)

07-11-2012, 12:14 AM
Thanks Ahle2 :) We thought it was pretty cool too hehe.

Here's this week's episode!

This week on First Spin we talk about how to use the altimeter module! As always we discuss the hardware on the altimeter module. We also go through the Kickstart Code as well as code Addie created by noting the modular nature of the code.
KickStart Code: http://learn.parallax.com/kickstart/29124
Original Demo Code: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/21916124555/parallax-altimeter-module-29124-rev-a-ms5607-part-1-2
Addie's Code: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/21982704463/parallax-altimeter-module-29124-rev-a-ms5607-part-2-2

E (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/21982704463/parallax-altimeter-module-29124-rev-a-ms5607-part-2-2)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/07/10/first-spin-episode-032-altimeter-module/

07-18-2012, 01:52 AM
This week on First Spin, we talk about Parallax's 3-axis gyroscope module L3G4200D! We touch upon the concepts behind the gyroscope and as always, go through the hardware and software of the module. And if you're lacking in ideas for the gyroscope module, we talk about the many uses as well!

Kickstart Code: http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/27911
Addie's Introduction: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/22053744495/parallax-gyroscope-module-l3g4200d-27911
An addendum (Ratronic's code): http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/22126521804/parallax-gyroscope-module-l3g4200d-27911-addendum

L (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/22126521804/parallax-gyroscope-module-l3g4200d-27911-addendum)ink for the episode: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/07/17/first-spin-episode-034-3-axis-gyroscope-module/

07-24-2012, 11:13 PM
This week on First Spin we take a look at the 2-Axis Joystick and RCTime! As always, we go through the hardware, the software, and the concepts behind their use. We compare it to the 5-position switch and give a few examples of why they’re useful!We also share some BIG news for our resident expert Roy Eltham!

Kickstart: http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/27800
Addie’s Review: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/27558550332/parallax-2-axis-joystick

E (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/27558550332/parallax-2-axis-joystick)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/07/24/first-spin-episode-035-2-axis-joystick-and-rctime/

07-31-2012, 11:32 PM
This week on First Spin, we look at the 2×16 Serial LCD (Backlit) w/Speaker Module from Parallax! We talk through the hardware involved in making it user-friendly (ie serial), and the typical pin hardware of course. We cover basic code for the Serial LCD, and then go into how to interface it with a 5-position switch, as well as the code for that!

Kickstart Code: http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/27977
Addie’s Interfacing: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/28414909146/interfacing-the-serial-lcd-and-5-position-switch

(http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/28414909146/interfacing-the-serial-lcd-and-5-position-switch)E (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/28414909146/interfacing-the-serial-lcd-and-5-position-switch)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/07/31/first-spin-episode-036-serial-lcd-module/

08-07-2012, 11:41 PM
This week on First Spin we talk about the Polar Heart Rate Receiver and Transmitter, going, as always, through the hardware and software. We talk about Addie's latest project to make all of the previously discussed sensors and modules wireless. And we also respond to BrainStrain's comments from the last two episodes! All packed together for a good episode of chat!

Polar Heart Rate Code: http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/28048

E (http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/28048)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/08/07/first-spin-episode-037-polar-heart-rate-receiver/

08-14-2012, 11:46 PM
This week on First Spin we talk about accelerometers! We go through the Memsic 2125 Accelerometer Module and we talk about how it works, the hardware, the software, and everything in between. We clarify what the Accelerometer actually outputs and what it actually measures, and the significance of it to projects requiring this.

Kickstart code: http://learn.parallax.com/KickStart/28017
Addie's look at it: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/29198969331/memsic-2125-dual-axis-accelerometer-1-of-2 (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/29198969331/memsic-2125-dual-axis-accelerometer-1-of-2#disqus_thread)

E (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/29268133678/memsic-2125-dual-axis-accelerometer-2-of-2)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/08/14/first-spin-episode-038-accelerometer-module/

08-22-2012, 01:29 AM
Hi folks,

No first spin this week as Roy's on the move! We'll see if we can be back next week assuming Roy is set up! Send us an email or message if you have any ideas for what we should talk about!

08-22-2012, 05:42 PM
A bit disappointing with NO First Spin Podcast this week.

Roy, get your move finished and let's hear from you all again, next week.

Enjoy the series greatly. I've kept a list of all the episodes, plus some pricing/item# data, so will have a 'hole' for 21 Aug.

Keep up the great discussions. I have no suggestions for topics at this time.

09-05-2012, 01:12 AM
We're back!! This week on First Spin we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Parallax's existence and give a little history about how we came to be avid fans of their chips. We also get down to business with discussing I2C modules and how to actually use them all together the way they were meant to be used! We even get to discuss some I2C handshaking.

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/09/04/first-spin-episode-039-parallax-turns-25/

A (http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/09/04/first-spin-episode-039-parallax-turns-25/)nd thanks for the support Harley :) We're as glad to be chatting again as you are to hear it!

09-11-2012, 11:40 PM
Announcement - We have a Gplus page for First Spin (and ZombieTech/Tymkrs) if you guys are interested in getting your updates there! We'd love to connect with those who listen to us! https://plus.google.com/b/115918343789511110639/115918343789511110639/posts/p/pub

This week on First Spin we talk about Addie's choice of measurements and go into the use of XBees with Propellers! We talk about why they're useful, discuss the hardware included in a Parallax provided XBee Wireless Pack, and talk about some of the software involved in using this. Our best recommendations are to walk through the XBee tutorial step by step, or go off some of Addie's code!

Episode: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/09/11/first-spin-episode-040-xbee-wireless-modules/

Tymkrs's Tutorial: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/archive - February and March 2012 go through each example in the XBee Tutorial provided by Parallax

Parallax's Tutorial: http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Downloads/docs/prod/rf/122-32450-XBeeTutorial-v1.0.1.pdf

Wireless Modules: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/29056927094/compilation-parallaxinc-modules-xbeewireless

09-19-2012, 12:15 AM
This week on First Spin we take a first look through sound generation on the Propeller. This however requires a slightly more in-depth look at how PWM works and how you can use it with analog filters to create different wave forms (ie sawtooth, sine wave, etc). So we talk about the subtleties involved in that and reference the Propeller Signal Generator object.

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/09/18/first-spin-episode-041-making-sounds/

09-26-2012, 03:03 AM
This week on First Spin we head to the Parallax Forums for posts from the community and realize that there are still a few loose ends about using counters for duty-cycle PWM to cover. So we talk about how to set up the counters to control things such as motors. And then we cover a few random tidbits such as how to use high EEPROM to save "nonvolatile values" and touch on incorporating real time clocks like DS1307.

Addie's Servo Code: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/16979651524/parallax-rc-servo-part-iii-my-own-code
Servo Episode: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/06/05/first-spin-episode-028-servos-are-easy/
Counter Episode: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/03/06/first-spin-episode-015-%E2%80%93-more-directives-and-counters/
Counter App Note: http://www.parallaxsemiconductor.com/sites/default/files/appnotes/AN001-P8X32ACounters-v2.0_2.pdf

Episode: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/09/25/first-spin-episode-042-listener-questions/

10-03-2012, 02:03 AM
This week on First Spin we go back to the Parallax forums for posts from the community. We re-cover real time clocks, go over SPI RAM and talk a bit on SD cards. We discuss when you’d use them, how to address them, and even how to create objects and what goes into those! We also talk about the SoundPal that many folks received in their Parallax Mystery Grab Bag. A lot of little tidbits!

SoundPal: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/32266224018/parallax-soundpal-and-the-propeller

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/10/02/first-spin-episode-043-ram-sound-pal-and-more/

10-03-2012, 07:19 PM
You guys rock. I was going to fidle with my sound pal, and see what it could do, but having a podcast on it is even better. :) Didn't even know I wanted a podcast on that, but yu folks always make things interesting, so although I haven't gotten to that episode yet, I will make sure to get to it asap, this should be fun.

10-10-2012, 01:46 PM
I'm behind (what else is new) But I just listened to this show, and wanted to comment on something mentioned in the show.
Addie mentioned that she was trying to build a picture of the surrounding area, using the ping sensor and a compass module along with a continuous rotation servo.
A very interesting experiment that was launched several years ago, and apparently is still going strong is the seeing with sound web site. The idea is that blind folks use sound to navigate their environment already, so why not expand this to encompass the entire range of objects around them. The seeing with sound concept uses a camera to take a picture of something, then translate this picture into sound, thereby giving the blind person more cues about what it is the camera is looking at.
I took a look at this project when it first started several years ago, but not having a camera at the time, I gave up on it, but I understand, some folks are having quite a lot of success with this approach.
If you guys haven't already, I'd be interested in hearing a podcast on the laser range finder sensor from Parallax.
The reason being, back in the 70s, there was a device that used sound with tactile feedback (it was called the mowat sensor) to give blind folks an idea of their surroundings. I think one was featured in see no evil hear no evil with Richard pryor and gene Wilder) (1989 movie) so the idea isn't really a new one, but to my knowledge, this is the first time actual sound has been used as a substitute for vision, which is an intriguing idea.
There has been other attempts to use such things as navigationl aids. The laser cane for example (never had one, too expensive) would use lasers to detect overhead objects, and warn of changes in terrain such as curbs, steps and the like. I find all these attempts fascinating, even though none of them actually panned out all that well, as evidenced by the fact that none of these devices are currently available (as far as I know) but still, it's an interesting idea, and with enough working over, may actually be worth persuing.
The whole seeing with sound idea is interesting because it's trying to use one sense as a direct replacement for another, and the implications of such (assuming they can make it work) are extremely interesting as well.
The site where the seeing with sound research is summarized, and currently ongoing is:
You can download software there and even get samples of the sound looking at different things. I've not checked into it recently, but the whole ir sensors, and lrf sensors from parallax is severely tempting me to build myself a device, and see if I can't get somewhere with it all.
Just thought folks would find this little bit of information interesting. I know there's a lot of folks who like to tinker here, and this might raise a few ideas.

10-17-2012, 03:22 AM
Hey Softcon! Thanks for your suggestions and kind remarks! (Sorry for the delay, we just got back from an epic roadtrip). I'll see what we can do about the LRF. I'll have to see if we have it somewhere here and then go over it! And I'll get back to working on that "owl project" and see if it can translate to something tactile maybe?

10-23-2012, 09:18 PM
This week on First Spin we are back! This episode starts out a bit silly and less didactic as we talk roadtrips and Wil Wheaton. But then of course we continue with the Parallax forums and see what we need to cover. So this week we sort of touch on sigma-delta modulation and how they'll be implemented in Propeller 2! We will have more information on it next week though! And we also get some funny fan mail :)

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/10/23/first-spin-episode-044-paper-bags/

10-30-2012, 09:43 PM
This week on First Spin we hear from Addie who's starting her first steps into learning how to program in C and what the differences are between Spin and C. We talk about buffer overflows and error traps to consider when coding. And we also touch a tiny bit more on sigma-delta modulation - though it is still a topic that needs more love!

Sigma-delta modulation links:


Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/10/30/first-spin-episode-045-include-c/

11-06-2012, 11:30 PM
This week on First Spin we return back to old faithful and old confusing for Addie - counters! We go into more detail about the PLL's role and function in the PLL modes. We go through the different modes and explain what PLLDIV, PHSx[31], and PHSx-Carry refer to. We also differentiate between single-ended and differential modes! A good review, and a nice look into more of the details.

AppNote: http://www.parallaxsemiconductor.com/sites/default/files/appnotes/AN001-P8X32ACounters-v2.0_2.pdf
Addie's Counter Summary: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/34569362735/overview-of-counters-on-the-propeller

E (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/34569362735/overview-of-counters-on-the-propeller)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/11/06/first-spin-episode-046-counter-magic/

11-14-2012, 12:10 AM
This week on First Spin we look at how to hook up the pins on a Propeller Board of Education such that TV/VGA works! We discuss the basics of how VGA works and how you can use the Propeller to have this sort of functionality. Next week we'll go indepth into the VGA demo codes written by Chip Gracey!

Summary: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/35492427205/tv-vga-connections-on-the-propboe-the-basics

E (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/35492427205/tv-vga-connections-on-the-propboe-the-basics)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/11/13/first-spin-episode-047-set-up-vga/

11-20-2012, 11:50 PM
This week on First Spin we go into the demo code made by Chip Gracey for TV/VGA awesome! We go step by step into code analysis and talk about how to achieve correct spacing and coloring. We do this by going into the objects and showing you where you can change the "settings"!

For reference:

E (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/35492427205/tv-vga-connections-on-the-propboe-the-basics)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/11/20/first-spin-episode-048-first-vga-code/

11-28-2012, 05:02 AM
This week on First Spin we talk about some very random things (haha). We talk about the Commodore 64 in relation to getting characters to show up VGA style on the Prop. We talk about making basic games like Snake, Pac-man, and ball bouncing. Whisker gives some hints about for-next loops, changing physical directions for game graphics, premade character sprites, etc. Addie's making a game!

Code referenced: VGA_Tile_Driver_Demo2.spin (available in the PropTool library)

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/11/28/first-spin-episode-049-propeller-games/

12-05-2012, 02:19 AM
This week on First Spin we cover TWO new contests sponsored by Parallax - Hack the Halls and MicroMedic! We talk about uber geekery board game style and then go into Addie's Propeller-based tamagotchi! We talk spaghetti code, the use of multiple cogs, and graphics to boot!

Bouncing Ball and Cursor video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX6qRDHKIQ4&feature=plcp
Bouncing Ball code: http://pastebin.com/d1aUdAju
Propopet code: http://pastebin.com/WSXtq5RF

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/12/04/first-spin-episode-050-spaghetti-code/

12-11-2012, 11:38 PM
This week on First Spin we talk about the latest developments in Propeller 2 chip design and continue on with the spaghetti game code! Addie has taken the advice from last week about stack overflows and reworked the code to something a bit more cohesive. But of course there are still issues! We get more tips this week!

New Propopet Code: http://pastebin.com/8EMdEyYA

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/12/11/first-spin-episode-051-seconds-please/

12-18-2012, 06:32 PM
This week on First Spin we celebrate our one year anniversary of doing First Spin! It has been a long long road and we're so glad you, our listener, have been walking it with us! We talk about our feelings, goals, aspirations - and world crushing core wars! We talk random fun this week :). Whisker and Roy also talk about things Addie doesn't understand - but they have to do with compilers and interpreters!

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/12/18/first-spin-episode-052-one-year-with-feeling/

12-25-2012, 09:32 PM
This week on First Spin we celebrate Carbon Monoxide Day and Christmas and also talk more code! We go through the improvements that have been made on the code, and more suggestions for decreasing repetitious code. We also talk about the Propeller 2 and I believe Roy gives a few more details about what all will be on the Prop 2.

Code Version 2.0: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/38071236430/code-improvement-propeller-based-tamagotchi-v2-0

Code Version 3.0: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/38634799299/code-improvement-propeller-based-tamagotchi-v3-0

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2012/12/25/first-spin-episode-053-under-the-logic-tree/

01-02-2013, 12:35 AM
This week on First Spin we firstly wish everyone a happy new year! We revisit the LED heart project that Addie started last year and talk about how to get Propellers integrated into your hardware projects. We talk about the basic bypass capacitors, pullup/down resistors, and go through the many considerations when designing a PCB with a propeller on it. So if you've wondered what's necessary - take a listen. And thanks to all of the VERY helpful people on the Parallax forums, Rednaxander and Tautic!

Link: http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/39313831443/led-heart-pcb-work-foundation

E (http://tymkrs.tumblr.com/post/39313831443/led-heart-pcb-work-foundation)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2013/01/01/first-spin-episode-054-with-a-feather-in-his-hat/

01-08-2013, 11:40 PM
This week on First Spin we talk about the Parallax Expo and hope everyone will be there - we will be! One of the goals Whisker and Roy have for Addie is to work on an interpreter, or at least work on using one. So we talk about interpreters this week and analyze the one Whisker wrote for Addie!

ByteBite Code: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/ByteBite.spin

Episode: http://www.firstspin.tv/2013/01/08/first-spin-episode-055-bite-byte-or-fish-heads/

01-15-2013, 11:56 PM
This week on First Spin we run through program code for using the interpreter written last week! Addie shows two examples - one to increment a number and the other to allow you to write hello world (or whatever else you want!). We also talk through the interpreter code as there were a few bugs in it from being untested. Roy and Whisker talk over Addie's head, but we hope it'll help those working with the interpreter!

Version 2 of the Interpreter Code: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/ByteBite.spin
Code to use the Interpreter: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/ByteBiteHost.spin

E (http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/ByteBiteHost.spin)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2013/01/15/first-spin-episode-056-hosting-bite-byte/

01-22-2013, 11:44 PM
This week on First Spin we continue talking about the use of interpreters and go through a pretty hardcore sequence Whisker's written to do multiplication (but only for products up to 255, hah). We talk about making "nested" loops within these codes and examine what other functions this language would need to be able to do more. Also, if you haven't already, check out the MicroMedic Contest - you may be able to get a free kit with a whole lot of goodies in it if you have a nice proposal (and of course do the project)!

Explanation: http://pastebin.com/WPKryYG5
ByteBite OBJ: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/ByteBite.spin
ByteBite Program for multiplication: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/ByteBiteMultiply.spin

MicroMedic Contest: http://learn.parallax.com/contest/micromedic

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2013/01/22/first-spin-episode-057-bytebite-me/

01-30-2013, 12:28 AM
This week on First Spin we talk about the microMedic 2013 contest with Ken Gracey (https://twitter.com/ParallaxKen) and Dr. Thomas Talbot (http://www.zombietech.tv/2012/07/26/zombie-tech-episode-047-dr-thomas-talbot/)! It's a contest to see what sorts of medically innovative technology the public can come up with when given the opportunity. It's a collaborative effort between Parallax Inc., the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), and Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center.
We talk about the kinds of projects they're looking for, what the rules are, rewards, and how not to limit your ideas!

Rules: http://learn.parallax.com/contest/2013-national-micromedic-rules

Forum: http://forums.parallax.com/forumdisplay.php/96-2013-National-microMedic-Contest

E (http://forums.parallax.com/forumdisplay.php/96-2013-National-microMedic-Contest)pisode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2013/01/29/first-spin-episode-058-micromedic/

02-06-2013, 12:09 AM
This week on First Spin Addie finally takes the plunge and adds her own instruction to the interpreter - only it's completely specific to the multiplication program! Haha. Well at least we're starting somewhere! We talk about the benefit of interpreters and how to make your life easier by not restricting yourself to the preprogrammed instructions. We also talk about incorporating registers named "booga". Very technical and serious. Booga.

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2013/02/05/first-spin-episode-059-c-for-crazy/

BiteByte OBJ: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/CrazyByteBite.spin

BiteByte Host program: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/CrazyHost.spin

BiteByte Multiplication Program description:

[?>]>>>>=<=[<j]<<j>>[->+>+<<]>[-<+>]<<-[<j]<<j>>>>>#>[?>] (OLD ONE)

[?>]>>>>=<=[<j]<<j>>c>[-<+>]<<-[<j]<<j>>>>>#>[?>] (NEW ONE)


"Enter Multiplicand. Hit Enter. Enter Multiplicator. Hit Enter", 0, 38, 18, 0, 0, 0, 0 "Is the result."

Memory Aliases:

S1 F J1 J2 X Y Z T S2

Step by Step:

[?>] Print S1

>>>>= DecIn Multiplicand into Mem(Y)

<= DecIn Multiplicator into Mem(X)

[<j]<<j If Mem(X) == 0 then Jump J1 else Jump J2


>> Point at Mem(Y)

[->+>+<<] Move Mem(Y) into Mem(Z) while Adding Mem(Y) to Mem(T) << c replaces this command

> Point at Mem(Z)

[-<+>] Move Mem(Z) to Mem(Y)

<<- Decrement Mem(X)

[<j]<<j If Mem(X) == 0 then Jump to J1 else Jump J2


>>>>># DecOut Mem(T)

>[?>] Print S2

02-13-2013, 12:31 AM
This week on First Spin, Addie was supposed to add general registers to the ByteBite interpreter to expand the abilities of it but...end up risking doing the same show as last week! So we catch the three mid explanation of implementing registers and it takes a little bit of repetition from the guys for Addie to figure out why this is important. It's one thing to write a program for a specific application. It's another for it to be usable in any application.

Wrong ByteBite: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/ByteBiteWrong.spin

Wrong Calculator Program Host: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/ByteBiteCalcWrong.spin

Explanation of wrong program: http://www.firstspin.tv/examples/ByteBiteCalcExplainWrong.spin

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2013/02/12/first-spin-episode-060-my-fish-ate-my-homework/

03-12-2013, 11:48 PM
This week on First Spin we come back! We touch on half done interpreters, and of course talk about our plans for the Expo. Then we discuss Addie's potential project for the MicroMedic competition. It involves a 5 position switch, GPS, and potentially more! But we talk about using strings and constants to make code easier to read, and also talk about the continued use of the data section.

GPS Code: http://pastebin.com/wbbh87Pf

Episode Link: http://www.firstspin.tv/2013/03/12/first-spin-episode-061-0xbadf00d/

07-16-2013, 02:02 PM
Oh man. Did you guys miss us? We've missed you!!! Once getting back from the OPC, it was a nonstop dash of hardware, software, wires flying all around, but now we're coming back. And we're doing C this time! It's still Whisker, Roy, and myself, and we're taking what we've learned from First Spin and applying it to First C!

Episode Link: http://www.tymkrs.com/shows/episode/first-c-episode-001/

Welcome to the first episode of First C! This is the start of a short series of podcasts to help beginners learn how to program in C! For the duration of this series, we will be focused on learning how to use C to write simple to complex programs. It will feature the Propeller Microcontroller and specifically, Parallax's new development board, the Parallax Activity Board! This week we talk about what you can expect from the podcast, how to set up Simple IDE, and even a code analysis of the demo code! Headers, curly braces, and more!

Link for setting up SimpleIDE: http://learn.parallax.com/propellerc

Code: http://learn.parallax.com/propeller-c-start-simple

W (http://learn.parallax.com/propeller-c-start-simple)e hope you guys enjoy this series as much as First Spin!

07-24-2013, 12:27 AM
Episode Link: http://www.tymkrs.com/shows/episode/firstc-episode-002/

Welcome to the second episode of First C! This is a short podcast series to help beginner coders learn how to program in C on the Parallax Propeller! This week we go more in depth into what the headers contain, what function they impart, and where you can find them - specifically "simpletools.h". We then talk about newlines (/n), setting variables, %d, displaying numbers with printf, and how to use these. We introduce a number of other percent codes and show how to use them!

Code: http://learn.parallax.com/propeller-c-start-simple/variables-and-math

07-31-2013, 03:10 AM
Episode Link: http://www.tymkrs.com/shows/episode/firstc-episode-003/

Welcome to the third episode of First C! This is a short podcast series to help beginner coders learn how to program in C on the Parallax Propeller! This week we go through the use of floating point math, array variables, and even begin looking at decision making! We talk about the potential uses of array variables, but also what array variables cannot be.