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

TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
edited 2013-07-30 - 20:10:57 in Propeller 1
Hi everyone!

We've been longtime fans and supporters of Parallax and the Propeller, and are releasing a podcast called First Spin 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 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 GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,919
    edited 2011-11-14 - 22:47:00
    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
  • graffixgraffix Posts: 388
    edited 2011-11-15 - 01:20:18
    Welcome to the forums bout time
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-11-15 - 01:27:54
    graffix wrote: »
    Welcome to the forums bout time

    Hah thanks for the welcome :D It has been a long time coming hasn't it!
  • mindrobotsmindrobots Posts: 6,506
    edited 2011-11-15 - 05:44:19

    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 UelmenJessica Uelmen Posts: 490
    edited 2011-11-15 - 08:31:20
    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 SavageChris Savage Parallax Engineering Posts: 14,406
    edited 2011-11-15 - 09:13:17
    We've also added your to our Propeller Resource Index for those looking for information on getting started with the Propeller chip.
  • doggiedocdoggiedoc Posts: 2,136
    edited 2011-11-15 - 09:43:42
    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!

  • lardomlardom Posts: 1,624
    edited 2011-11-15 - 12:09:16
    It's audio which makes it convenient to listen to in the background. I subscribed.
  • Oldbitcollector (Jeff)Oldbitcollector (Jeff) Posts: 8,090
    edited 2011-11-15 - 12:23:43

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

  • Ahle2Ahle2 Posts: 1,073
    edited 2011-11-15 - 12:38:18
    I thought the day would never come, when you guys joined the forum.

    Welcome to the forums!!

  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-11-15 - 16:03:12
    Thanks everyone for the encouragement and support! I'm looking forward to learning from the community ^o^
  • electromanjelectromanj Posts: 270
    edited 2011-11-15 - 16:11:13
    Glad to see you have it out there! Keep up the good work.

  • yingsteryingster Posts: 17
    edited 2011-11-15 - 19:10:04
    Thank you, every bit of help is appreciated, keep it up
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-11-17 - 17:25:52
    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
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-11-22 - 18:08:51
    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 :)

  • bozobozo Posts: 68
    edited 2011-11-23 - 13:36:56
    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 PJorge P Posts: 385
    edited 2011-11-24 - 01:59:47
    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?
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-11-24 - 04:12:30
    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!
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-11-29 - 17:43:00
    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:
  • ElectricAyeElectricAye Posts: 4,561
    edited 2011-11-29 - 18:40:48
    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?
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-11-29 - 22:23:55
    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 :)
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-12-06 - 05:22:06
    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: - let us know if we need to cover anything else or general commentry welcome :)
  • ElectricAyeElectricAye Posts: 4,561
    edited 2011-12-06 - 18:37:14
    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.
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-12-06 - 21:06:12
    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!
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-12-13 - 18:31:03
    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:

    And if there's anything you want to contribute, please do! I look at all of the comments!
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-12-20 - 08:50:10
    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 - any comments, questions, snide remarks even - do let us know :)
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2011-12-27 - 13:50:46
    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 PJorge P Posts: 385
    edited 2011-12-27 - 19:18:39
    I just noticed on your 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 , , Yahoo, and

    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 .
  • Jorge PJorge P Posts: 385
    edited 2011-12-27 - 19:24:35
    Another note, you might also want to add ratings information to your site
  • TymkrsTymkrs Posts: 536
    edited 2012-01-03 - 16:14:25
    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, videos, or forums. 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:

    Let us know what you think :)
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