View Full Version : Propeller Development using a Mac

Chris B
11-07-2006, 11:32 PM
I wonder if anyone is doing any propeller development using an Intel based Mac. I have been programming a toddler using a Keyspan adapter and MacBS2 without problems but cannot get the BS2 tools to work correctly in the emulated Win XP. I would like to try my hand at propeller programing but only have access to Intel based Macs, has anyone used the propeller programming tools on a virtual Win XP machine using Parallels Desktop emulator. Alternatively can anyone provide any suggestions on how I may get started.

Thanks in anticipation


11-07-2006, 11:42 PM
Have you tried Boot Camp?

Chris B
11-07-2006, 11:58 PM
No to be fair I havn't, I am trying to avoid the Mac becoming a standard Windows box, everthing else I have to do is done in OS X and I will be cut off from my world whilst developing if I am forced to dual boot.
I have emailed Murat (the author of MacBS2) to see if he has any plans on a propeller version but the answer was no.
So what I am after is some way to develop for propeller whilst I still have an OS X environment available.



11-08-2006, 12:22 AM

Have you tried Parallels app? I understand it allows one to switch from Mac to PC and back without restarting.

My iMac is an old one, upgraded to OS 9.2.x and also OS X 10.2.something. Unfortunately it isn't an Intel one. Drooling permitted? Planning to get one soon; hopefully that upgrade won't prevent some of my older apps from working any longer; like my pcb CAD s/w.

I notice MacMall almost gives away Parallels if one buys a new Mac. Even a free laser printer; just bought a new printer, so that would be a waste, except to non-color work.

Didn't know if you were aware of Parallels.

Harley Shanko
h.a.s. designn

Mike Green
11-08-2006, 01:02 AM
I have a 1.2GHz G4 Powerbook that I use for Propeller development running Windows XP under either Virtual PC or Guest PC. It works (just barely). I've found Virtual PC to be a tiny bit faster which helps on downloads. Guest PC tracks the emulated PC's processor usage and lets the G4 go idle when the emulated PC is idle (waiting for input usually). Virtual PC runs continually no matter what the emulated PC is doing (so the Powerbook's fan runs at high speed), but it does allow you to quit while saving the PC's state (like putting the PC to sleep). Guest PC requires you to shut down Windows.

I do most of my editing using Mac software, then copy the files to the PC's desktop (with drag and drop), compile the program and download it. Trivial editing I'll do with the Propeller Tool, then copy the files back to the Mac's desktop when done.

I am seriously thinking of upgrading to an Intel Mac, but I'm not yet ready to spend the $1,500 to $2,000 to do it.

Cliff L. Biffle
11-08-2006, 01:20 AM
I do most of my Propeller development on a MacBook Pro with Parallels, using XP SP2 Pro on the guest. BootCamp is not an option for me, because I use a lot of Mac tools outside of Parallels to develop (and then transfer the results into Windows using the Shared Folders). That, and I'd rather my computer not get raped by the internet.

The keys appear to be:
1. Remember to give Parallels control of your USB-serial adapter.
2. Use a recent, updated version of Parallels. v1.0 had horrible USB bugs and wouldn't work.
3. Be ready to reboot Windows frequently when Parallels hangs up. This happens about twice a day for me.
4. If Parallels starts acting stupid -- in my case, it stops closing the serial port, so Propeller Tool insists it can't open it -- you will need to reboot your Mac. (Parallels' kernel extensions are of rather poor quality. I wait with baited breath for VMware. Or, really, for the day when I don't need XP for this.)

If Parallels insists the USB-serial adapter is in use, your Mac has loaded a driver for it, and the FTDI Mac driver is pretty shoddy and won't let go. I can post the necessary command line incantations to fix this if it's a problem for you. (In fact, if you can post more specific info about your problems, I can probably help out.)

( Edit: folks have requested the incantation over PM, so I'll put it here in the thread. Go into the System > Library > Extensions folder on your system disk and find a bundle in there starting with FTDI. Mine's named FTDIUSBSerialDriver.kext. Open a shell, and enter sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/name-of-the-bundle-here-including-extension. This will forceably unload the driver, freeing up the device. This is a safe operation and will not harm your machine. )

Now, I should make the unpleasantness of this solution clear, so that Parallax doesn't treat it as a real option. XP is a very unfamiliar OS to many of us -- it'd be like dropping an XP user into, say, CDE on Solaris. When Windows owns my serial port, I can't use my preferred terminal emulator, and to use my preferred editor I must package up the files -- including converting the line endings! -- and copy them to a network share. Then, more often than not, Parallels will crap out or hang within a few hours, forcing me (in some cases) to reboot my entire computer.

For reference, without Parallels involved, I tend to reboot once every four months or so.

We should be collecting our names somewhere. Not a petition -- petitioning private organizations doesn't do a whole lot, and internet petitions got old about 10 years ago. Just a show of solidarity. There are a lot of us being inconvenienced by Parallax's choice on this one; with any luck, with enough of us around, Parallax may make a different choice in the future.

(Developing platform-specific software is a choice, in this day and age, and a strange one at that. Cross-platform software can be developed with free tools, using Qt, Swing, SWT, wxWindows, GTK+, or XUL, off the top of my head -- that covers C++, Java, Python, C, JavaScript, Ruby, Mono/C#, and Perl. Even Delphi has a cross-platform derivative in Kylix.)

Post Edited (Cliff L. Biffle) : 11/9/2006 4:06:46 PM GMT

11-08-2006, 01:46 AM
Count me in on the Mac platform, I am using Parallels on an Intel Mac, no problems so far, even when using a USB scope at the same time. I downloaded the USB fix and have had no problems since. I run two instances of the XP window on the Mac, one for the propeller tool, one for the scope. It works very well for me, but a native Mac Propeller tool would certainly be easier and more productive. It would also give Parallax a niche market in the Mac world that is otherwise pretty well empty. I am also running the new DLP-PROP on the Mac, same set-up. Just a thought...


11-08-2006, 02:19 AM
Just saying "Hi" to all the Macintosh users.

I've been using Macs since '84. Saw one demonstrating Douglas's pcb CAD across the arena at a Wescon convention that year. Bought the s/w on 3-1/4" floppy, and didn't yet even have a Mac.

Some years ago I got interested in the PIC, started with the 16F84 and Al Williams 'programmer' kit. Soon acquired a laptop PC to work with Microchips IDE. After that crashed a number of times, got a ThinkPad that was being sold as 'off-lease'. That TP had been pretty good until recently. (That is ignoring the too-occasional hang-ups. Thanks, Billy Bob Gates.)

Well, just recently, trying to listen to Chip's 'singing monks' I tried to install iTunes on the TP. Got a message it needed SP4. Which I proceeded to install. What a mess. Apparently there were some 30 upgrades, and one had to 'remove' those not needed; and SP4 can't be installed with any other download, which I thought I'd removed. Well 24 hours later, still not finished. After hitting several random keys, it finally stopped and said essentially '...can't install SP4 because another app is running', which happened to be OE that got accidently installed. Now the OS won't boot without an error. HELP, can do any more Prop development!!!!!!!!!!!

I suppose I will have to re-install the OS, Windows2000. Only, now thinking about it, I don't recall getting a CD with Windows2000. Is there some sort of 'disk doctor' fixer-upper for Windows?___ Not sure what I'll do. (Hey, run down to Apple store and pick up a iMac-Intel machine. http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/yeah.gif )

Yes, it would be wonderful if PropTool also came in a Macintosh version. http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/jumpin.gif

Harley Shanko
h.a.s. designn

Chris B
11-08-2006, 02:56 AM
Thanks guys - youve answered the question perfectly, tomorrow morning I can order a propeller development kit. I can see this thread going on for a bit as a couple of you have raised points that are very dear to me.

I absolutley agree that Parallax should come up with some native OS X development tools, they have gone half way with the token library.

Cliff, your right on the nail with the problem, however even if I remove the Keyspan driver in OS X and just pass the USB to Parallels, although Win XP picks up the device and I can load the Windoze version of the Keyspan driver (which is obviously working as I can use Hyperterm in Windoze through the Keyspan) I cannot get the BS editor to talk to the Toddler through the Keyspanl port (and yes its says its busy).

Any pointers would be very welcome.

Cliff L. Biffle
11-08-2006, 05:49 AM
Other than making sure HyperTerminal is shut down, I have no idea. When I encounter problems on the Windows side, I reboot it until it works again.

Sounds like a bug in whatever the BS2 software is.