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View Full Version : Any Labs/course curriculum suitable for teaching the Propeller as a college cou



Dennis Ferron
10-06-2006, 12:57 PM
My professor is planning to order at least a dozen Propeller starter kits to use to teach his computer architecture class next semester! I showed him my suitcase computer project and explained how the Propeller allows you to do in software the kinds of computer I/O which ordinarily would take many dedicated hardware chips on a motherboard. IMO, the Propeller is perfect for teaching computer architecture concepts to computer science students who might not have a background in electronics, but they do know about software. For instance, instead of pointing to a Z-80 based keyboard controller on a motherboard with hardcoded, closed-source ROM, you can show them the Spin code actually talking to the PS/2 port - no more "black box" or empty theoretical discussion; the code is right there, available, and they can hack it.

However, he wants to know what we would use for labs in the class. He originally wanted to use the Basic Stamp because it comes with a book with labs to use in teaching with it, but I told him that he'd be better off buying the Propeller boards because the Propeller is so much more powerful and will have more relevance to a computer organization / computer architecture course. I suggested that we could use the included demos for some of our labs, and I plan to bring in some of my own Spin code for "show and tell". But we may run out of demos, and anyway I think we need a plan that includes more student involvement than simply running demos. Any ideas? Maybe someone has already put together a curriculum for the Propeller? Or, Parallax, do you have anything forthcoming in this area?

Martin Hebel
10-06-2006, 01:51 PM
Hi Dennis,
I'm teaching with it this semester, and while I had summer plans to get a text started, it didn't make it very far. I started off with about 5 weeks on typical controllers using 8051 material just to give the students back ground on 'standard' controllers and issues, then switched to the Propeller. I am using the Propeller manual, developing power points to lecture from by combining text material with my own 'spin' on it. I think one of the great things about the prop is you really don't need a heavy text on the device, much more time can be spent discussing data communications and applications. I'll have various labs we'll do, but much of will be "here's a concept, run with it".

I'll make my materials available once cleaned up and ready.
-Martin

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Martin Hebel
Personal Links with plenty of BASIC Stamp info (http://www.isat.siu.edu/hebel/links_personal.htm)
StampPlot - Graphical Data Acquisition and Control (http://www.stampplot.com/)
AppBee - XBee ZigBee / IEEE 802.15.4 Adapters & Devices (http://www.selmaware.com/appbee)

Dennis Ferron
10-06-2006, 02:19 PM
Oh, wonderful!

Would you be interested in some collaboration on this? I would really like to arrange a phone meeting with you, my professor, and me. AFAIK I will be assisting my professor in teaching this course next semester. My professor is very good but he doesn't feel he has a strong enough electronics background to do the course justice, but I do have the electronics background so I can help him there. We could definitely benefit from your materials, and I could give you any Spin programs I write that might be useful as examples.

Maybe as a user community we could even put together a book of course material for the Propeller and give Parallax permission to publish it, so that students could have it in physical form -?

Martin Hebel
10-06-2006, 09:30 PM
Hi Dennis,
I'd like to talk next week, little swamped right now.

Please contact me at mhebel@siu.edu (mailto:mhebel@siu.edu)

What degree program is this in? CS?

Thanks,
Martin
·

Andy Lindsay (Parallax)
10-07-2006, 12:20 AM
Dennis Ferron said...
Or, Parallax, do you have anything forthcoming in this area?

Dennis,

In answer to your question, Parallax does have forthcoming material in this area.· Here are a few pictures of our educational kit prototype.··The kit is still under development, and·the bill of materials has not been finalized.· ·
·
This particular kit is designed more for electronics students.· In your case, it sounds like the class does not have any electronics training or prerequisites, so the Propeller Demo Board·might be·a better approach.
·
Regarding documentation for the forthcoming Propeller Education (PE) kit, labs·will start·with breadboarding and testing the Propeller Microcontroller and support circuits.· Labs that follow will introduce various microcontroller, multiprocessor, and object oriented programming concepts, each in tandem with one or more demonstration circuits.
·
Figure 1 -·PE Kit·Prototype
·
http://forums.parallax.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=43490
·
Figure 2 - PE Kit Board
·
http://forums.parallax.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=43491
·
Figure 3 -·PE·Kit Board with·Some·Project Circuits
·
http://forums.parallax.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=43492

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Andy Lindsay

Education Department
Parallax, Inc.

Post Edited (Andy Lindsay (Parallax)) : 10/6/2006 6:21:22 PM GMT

hutdon
10-07-2006, 12:30 AM
Looks great - but where can you get that breadboard! I've been looking for something like that for ages. - Don

Andy Lindsay (Parallax)
10-07-2006, 01:16 AM
Don,

We are working on that now. As soon as we have them in stock, I think we might be the first US source.· BTW, they are the nicest boards I’ve ever worked with.

In the meantime, there is a similar board that I've been able to obtain from US retailers. The sockets aren't as nice, there are five columns instead of six, and they have to be mounted on a backplane because the interconnect tabs aren't as beefy. All that said, the same circuits as the ones in the pictures above work fine on these boards. Here's a link to where I bought them: http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=105. The catalog number is PB-400.

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Andy Lindsay

Education Department
Parallax, Inc.

Post Edited (Andy Lindsay (Parallax)) : 10/6/2006 9:36:36 PM GMT

Andy Lindsay (Parallax)
10-07-2006, 01:33 AM
Dennis Ferron said...
...I think we need a plan that includes more student involvement than simply running demos. Any ideas? Maybe someone has already put together a curriculum for the Propeller?...

Dennis,

Dave Scanlan has put together lots of examples that should be pertinent to your class in a topic called SPIN CODE EXAMPLES FOR THE BEGINNER (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?p=574524).· It's one of the blue highlighted topics that persists at the beginning of the Propeller Chip forum topic list.

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Andy Lindsay

Education Department
Parallax, Inc.

The Captain
10-07-2006, 02:50 AM
Andy,

http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/freaked.gif, please say it will be ready for shipment by Christmas, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, I want it. That kit would help me in so many ways since I don't have time to take eletronic courses at my College. http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/yeah.gif

Andy Lindsay (Parallax)
10-07-2006, 07:02 AM
The Captain,

Yes, the kit will be ready before Christmas with at least one lab that covers assembly and testing. The remaining labs will come in installments (probably zipped PDF + source code downloads), some before and some after Christmas.

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Andy Lindsay

Education Department
Parallax, Inc.

Post Edited (Andy Lindsay (Parallax)) : 10/7/2006 12:08:01 AM GMT

The Captain
10-07-2006, 09:47 AM
w00t!!! http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/jumpin.gif http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/jumpin.gif http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/jumpin.gif http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/jumpin.gif http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/yeah.gif http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/yeah.gif http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/yeah.gif http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/yeah.gif

Dennis Ferron
10-07-2006, 10:52 AM
Nice breadboarding there. I know it takes a lot of work to keep the wiring so neat.

I like how you daisy chained the regulators so that you didn't need another jumper.

Timothy D. Swieter
10-07-2006, 02:04 PM
I agree, that breadboard looks great, but what about that Propeller Chip? That looks skinner to me than the 40-DIP you sell now, is that true?

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Timothy D. Swieter
tdswieter.com (http://www.tdswieter.com/)
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One little spark is all it takes for an idea to explode

CJ
10-07-2006, 08:04 PM
looks like the propstick label with an inverted color scheme

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Who says you have to have knowledge to use it?

I've killed a fly with my bare mind.

Paul Baker
10-08-2006, 02:27 AM
Timothy, no it is the standard DIP with a label adhered for the pin assignments.

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Paul Baker (mailto:pbaker@parallax.com)
Propeller Applications Engineer
[/url][url=http://www.parallax.com] (http://www.parallax.com)
Parallax, Inc. (http://www.parallax.com)

Timothy D. Swieter
10-08-2006, 10:01 PM
Thanks Paul. I guess I can see that now, it just looked a little small when I first viewed it. Now that I take a second gander I see the chip in the board just above it and it puts things back in perspective.

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Timothy D. Swieter
tdswieter.com (http://www.tdswieter.com/)
------------------------------------------------------------
One little spark is all it takes for an idea to explode

Andy Lindsay (Parallax)
10-10-2006, 02:21 AM
Dennis Ferron said...

·
Nice breadboarding there. I know it takes a lot of work to keep the wiring so neat.

I like how you daisy chained the regulators so that you didn't need another jumper.

Dennis,
·
Thanks, I’m kind of a tight wiring novice, so it took some effort to get it photogenic.· The tight wiring shown in Figure 2 will be recommended in the setup instructions.· It’ll make building and removing project circuits a lot easier and more organized.
·
For example, with the setup shown in Figure 2, project circuits like Figure 3 tend to fan out from Propeller I/O pins in the center board to parts on the side boards.· The circuits also tend to terminate on the leftmost and rightmost power rails.· It minimizes the wire spaghetti factor and makes each circuit really easy to visually follow.
·
When you’re ready tear down a loose wired project, you can pretty much just pull all the wires and parts that are making arcs over the left and right side breadboards.· Then, you’ll be left with what’s in Figure 2 to start your next project.
·
Daisy chaining the regulators was pretty much the only way to get the Propeller and support circuits to fit nicely on the middle board.· Otherwise, there would have been a lot more than just the reset button on the side board.

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Andy Lindsay

Education Department
Parallax, Inc.

Andy Lindsay (Parallax)
10-10-2006, 02:37 AM
Timothy D. Swieter said...
Thanks Paul. I guess I can see that now, it just looked a little small when I first viewed it. Now that I take a second gander I see the chip in the board just above it and it puts things back in perspective.

That's kind of interesting, the chip does look thinner.· I think part of it is camera angle, and the other part of it is that the breadboards have six sockets in every row instead of five.· It's the first six socket per row breadboard I've worked with, and I really like them!· That plus power rail strips on both sides of each breadboard really helps make circuits organized and convenient to wire up.

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Andy Lindsay

Education Department
Parallax, Inc.

Graham Stabler
10-10-2006, 02:50 AM
Really neat, well done Parallax.

Graham

Andy Lindsay (Parallax)
10-10-2006, 02:53 AM
CJ said...
looks like the propstick label with an inverted color scheme


Yeah, we had been talking about·a pinout sticker·as a possibility for the kit.· It seemed like a good way to reduce potential tech support gotchas.· As soon as I saw Phil Pilgrim's (PhiPi's) PropSTICK (http://www.parallax.com/detail.asp?product_id=32310)·kit·sticker, the sticker went from "possibility" to "must have"!

Here's a close-up of the sticker for the kit:

········· http://forums.parallax.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=43543

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Andy Lindsay

Education Department
Parallax, Inc.

Post Edited (Andy Lindsay (Parallax)) : 10/9/2006 8:08:09 PM GMT

Aristides Alvarez
11-04-2006, 10:51 AM
Hello everybody,

Do you remember this discussion? I just wanted to post a message to bring this thread back to the front of the Propeller Forum.

As Andy promised, the kit will be available before Christmas.

You can find more information in the homepage (www.parallax.com (http://www.parallax.com)) or more specifically http://www.parallax.com/detail.asp?product_id=32305.

There will be an announcement soon about this kit and the shipping date is getting really close!

Regards,

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Aristides Alvarez (mailto:aalvarez@parallax.com)
Education and Technical Support Manager
Parallax, Inc. (http://www.parallax.com)

SSteve
12-04-2006, 04:45 AM
One suggestion on the Setup lab: on page 6 the instructions for an oscilloscope should include instructions specific to the Parallax USB oscilloscope. For example, is it possible to set the Parallax 'scope to "AC coupled"?

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OS-X: because making Unix user-friendly was easier than debugging Windows

links:
My band's website (http://www.theuniversalsteve.com)
Our album on the iTunes Music Store (http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?i=84780626&id=84781354)

Fred Hawkins
06-24-2007, 02:08 AM
Andy Lindsay (Parallax) said...


Dennis Ferron said...
Or, Parallax, do you have anything forthcoming in this area?

Dennis,

In answer to your question, Parallax does have forthcoming material in this area.· Here are a few pictures of our educational kit prototype.··The kit is still under development, and·the bill of materials has not been finalized.· ·
·
This particular kit is designed more for electronics students.· In your case, it sounds like the class does not have any electronics training or prerequisites, so the Propeller Demo Board·might be·a better approach.
·
Regarding documentation for the forthcoming Propeller Education (PE) kit, labs·will start·with breadboarding and testing the Propeller Microcontroller and support circuits.· Labs that follow will introduce various microcontroller, multiprocessor, and object oriented programming concepts, each in tandem with one or more demonstration circuits.
·
Figure 2 - PE Kit Board
·
http://forums.parallax.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=43491
·

I love my PE kit!

But I couldn't bring myself to assemble as per your instructions. Here's an alternative that may be worth considering.
What it does is put the power into the upper left, flips the prop plug so you can read the <tx >rx lines (thereby making sense) with a straight shot into pins 31 & 30, and drops the eeprom onto the ground line.
NB. These photos are from before smoke testing. You will note that I have a red (hot) wire grounding the right side's 3.3v. Make the wire a bit longer to reach the hot bus.·Notice the diagonal ground wire under the prop plug interface.
Fred

Fred Hawkins
06-26-2007, 11:33 AM
I suggest these sidebars be added: how to read resistor values and how to know a led's cathode from anode. (All I could remember was that Violet Gives Willingly which didn't help much.) A note about the power chips would be nice too -- I find myself wondering if they are capable of feeding a LCD module (40chars x 2 lines)...

FoghornLeghorn
07-02-2007, 01:35 AM
Agree with the sidebars. Yes, the buyer is forewarned that this is not a beginner's kit, but beginners will buy it anyway, so why not make an easy concession? Also, pg 8 of PE Platform Setup, is this a typo:

"Disconnect the LED wire from (RED, 12) and reconnect it to the Propeller chip’s P3 I/O pin.
For this, you’ve got a choice of (L, 4), (K, 4), or (I, 4)."

Should be (L, 14), (K, 14), or (I, 14)? Or I misunderstood?

-Luke

Fred Hawkins
07-11-2007, 07:51 AM
These may·be of use.

Note that the blank board is oriented the same as the parallax layout and the alternative is rotated 180 degrees.

Coolguy
10-10-2007, 09:21 PM
I want to get the sticker that go on top of the Propeller DIP IC. PN 120-00003 is not valid to purchase. Is there a way for me to get this sticker?

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
10-10-2007, 09:30 PM
Same here! Parallax.. Mind setting up a SKU for stickers???

Oldbitcollector

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Buttons . . . check. Dials . . . check. Switches . . . check. Little colored lights . . . check.

— Calvin, of 'Calvin and Hobbes.

deSilva
10-10-2007, 09:43 PM
The posted jpeg is fine. Just laser-print it on any of the many available printable self adhesive sheets, metalized films, whatever ... I don't know the US paper market http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif even paper will do with some pattex http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif


WRT to breadboards: scroll down that page:
www.conelek.com/index.php?cPath=58_67_83 (http://www.conelek.com/index.php?cPath=58_67_83)
I especially like the AD001 which is close to perfect!
There is one Taiwanese company making them, but few distributers, as it is (slightly) more expensive than the sh... you get elsewhere...

Post Edited (deSilva) : 10/10/2007 2:49:06 PM GMT

Fred Hawkins
06-22-2008, 03:29 AM
I was reading the data sheet for the LM2937-3.3v regulator today and noticed that it has "Special circuitry has been incorporated to minimize the quiescent current to typically only 10 mA with a full 500 mA load current when the input to output voltage differential is greater than 5V."

One of·National Semi's·graphs confirm that by connecting the 3.3v regulator to the 5v regulator instead of directly to the 9v battery, the ed kit circuit seems to maximize the 3.3v regulator's quiescent current. Not a big deal perhaps, but I am left wondering why is this circuit designed this way?