View Full Version : Getting Started

05-21-2005, 09:38 AM
I'm trying to get started with the basic stamp for the following reason: I work with a program at the University of Montana that flies high altitude balloons. We just bought the lightest laptop on the market and we are planning on sending it up with the balloon to record some data and control some stuff. One of the things that I was thinking that it might be able to do is cutdown the balloon if we sent it a message via HAM radio. I thought that I might be able to use the basic stamp to help flip a relay when the message comes to the computer. I'm not sure if the basic stamp can be computer controlled though.

I'm not sure if the basic stamp is the right sort of hardware for this application?

Even so, I think that it would be good to learn how to work with simple microcontrollers in case we need to do anything else. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to start learning about these microcontrollers. Price doesn't matter. (And could you answer the questions above four lines up.)


Aristides Alvarez
05-21-2005, 10:46 AM
The BASIC Stamp is the right option for high altitude balloons. It's being used extensively in this field already.
Please check the information available at this link:
http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/resources/custapps/app_nearspace.asp (http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/resources/custapps/app_nearspace.asp)
It's also popular in Ham radio applications:
http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/resources/custapps/app_eztuner.asp (http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/resources/custapps/app_eztuner.asp)
All these customer applications can be found at this link:
http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/resources/custapps/main.asp (http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/resources/custapps/main.asp)
If you are just starting with microcontrollers, our best option is the Discovery Kit:
http://www.parallax.com/detail.asp?product_id=27207 (http://www.parallax.com/detail.asp?product_id=27207)
After completing the book included with that kit you may find that you don't need to use a laptop and you could use the BASIC Stamp to log the data and control any actuators (and it's a lot smaller and lighter than the lightest laptop you could find).
The BASIC Stamp is so small and light that is also used in rockets:
http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/resources/custapps/app_rocketry_jp.asp (http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/resources/custapps/app_rocketry_jp.asp)

Aristides Alvarez
Education and Technical Support Manager
Parallax, Inc. www.parallax.com

05-21-2005, 09:05 PM
Thanks a lot, this is very helpful!

05-21-2005, 09:38 PM
Because we are funded by a grant which is about to expire, I have one more question. For this application, is there other equiptment (in addition to the discovery kit) that I may need to start controlling things on the balloon after I go through the discovery kit labs.

Ken Gracey
05-21-2005, 11:34 PM
Dear Cjkogan,

Aristides may not be monitoring the forums this morning, so I'll answer for him. He's probably sipping a cup of coffee and reading the paper. After the Discovery Kit, you'll have the BASIC Stamp, documentation, cables, and enough experience to know where to go next.

The only thing I can think of that you would need is a more permanent location for your Stamp project. I've built some pretty scary stuff on breadboards that has even flown on R/C airplanes, where I've tested the limits of thin-leaded components pressed into copper strips. Stuff rattles out pretty easily - even turning the board upside down can shake out some components. On the other hand, I had a Cermetek Modem circuit mounted on a breadboard to remotely monitor the temperature of my home for a long time (and reset a radiant boiler), but that project only moved when we had California earthquakes.

But for winds aloft, absolutely·put your project on·a BASIC Stamp Super Carrier Board (http://www.parallax.com/detail.asp?product_id=27130). They're a steal at $20 and·you will be able to wire wrap or solder the projects you've proven out on the Board of Education. This is the best of both worlds - a place to prototype and a place where you can build·a controller for the balloon projects. But be sure to see Paul Verhage's resources that Ari pointed out - he's a·scientist who thinks about·balloon projects day and night no matter what else·might be going on around him.

And you will likely need some other components (transistors, relays, sensors, etc.) but·you can pick those up for usually a low cost and·identify & find them as you become ready.

Ken Gracey
Parallax, Inc.

05-22-2005, 11:16 PM
Why are you going to send an expensive laptop to a high altitude where it's -50C?· What is it that you need to do that can't be done without the laptop?· All other balloon groups are using Stamps, PICs, etc.