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Thread: What's required for a few different things

  1. #1
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    Default What's required for a few different things

    I've scanned the 2 pages of threads, and the project seems pretty nifty. Can anyone tell me what I'd need to download from Parallax to get a better hold on all of this?

    Seems that their programming language would be one of them, but is any of this assembler? What's the best way to program one of these? Build my own prop plug, perhaps? Finding libraries for specific thing is always a hassle. I know for the arduino that there's quite a few dmx libraries and some of these require modified serial libraries or spi stuff.

    I'd really like to try programming a propeller, do a little design on my own, and of course, use the propcontroller as a learning tool. I'm finding all of this to be pretty amazing and that such a neat little MCU can be so cheap.

    Any suggestions? Thanks for the time you throw my way.
    steve_

    [I]I really enjoy being in the over-60 age group. I can get grumpy, assertive, and opinionated and not feel too guilty about it.[/I]

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What's required for a few different things

    Just saw THIS at JameCo - pretty cool little widget. Parallax has an IDE that supports their "SPIN" language. It integrates well with the PropPlug - just press F11 and bam-zoom - compiled and flashed into chip/eeprom. Since the Propeller has multiple "COGS" (sort of like 8 processors) you can run different bits of code on each including a terminal port to show what's going on. Their forum has many code examples as well. Some of the real PropHeads here like jstjohnz and DynamoBen might be able to provide some more pointers...
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: What's required for a few different things

    In early December 2010 I heard of the Propeller for the first time. Darco (who first (or independently and concurrent with others) documented the protocol for the GECE RGB pixels) used one for his project and DynamoBen encouraged me to consider the Propeller as I considered creating an RGB MegaTree. Within 2 weeks I had this done, using a one-off prototype standalone Propeller-based controller. A thread documenting the process from initial spark of imagination to something real is here: http://doityourselfchristmas.com/for...light=megatree - althought pretty long, reading a few of the first posts will give you an overview.

    The point is that I found the Propeller to be a lot of fun. Vist the Parallax web site (www.parallax.com) and download the PropellerTool (it's free). It's their proprietary "IDE-lite" - used for coding in SPIN (interpreted higher-level language) as well as PASM (Propeller Assembly). Definitely open up the PDF documentation that comes with the PropellerTool download to learn about the architecture and use of the Propeller. It's not like other uControllers with its 8-cog design.

    For hardware, DynamoBen has the PropController (designed, I believe, to enable creation of daughter boards), jstjohnz has the e680/1; the QuickStart board that budude pointed to is the newest addition by Parallax and looks really great for learning and tinkering. I used the older ProtoBoardUSB for my MegaTree. That provides a breadboard and access to all I/O, and a USB programming connection for the PropellerTool. Then there's the "Spinnerette", a board with the Propeller and a WIZnet hardwired TCP/IP stack, MAC and PHY that gives you a lot to play with. Drivers are available for download form the Obex (the OBject EXchange) where users post their work openly for use by others. Beware, though; I was an early user of some of that code and ended up writing my own from scratch (customized for a single purpose, faster, but definitely not general-purpose) because of bugs that made me nuts.

    Parallax hosts online forums, and my experience is that while there are the inevitable few that use it to boost their egos, I found that there are many very (very!) intelligent and knowledgeable users there that will help freely (and they even can tell you about the actual IC layout, down to differences in register-to-IO delays from one pin to another).

    On top of that, Parallax seems to be investing in growing the company (and reputation) beyond hobbyists and tinkerers. They claim a PropellerII will be released later this year, with far more memory, a bump from 80Mhz to 200MHz clock, 80 GPIO, and more. This should become a viable platform for commercial/industrial projects (not that there aren't real projects already using the PropI).

    So this may seem like a "fanboy" post. I assure you that I am not a very good "joiner", much less a mindless follower of fads. There are things about the Prop that make me crazy. However, I do want to say that with <$50 investment, if you are like me, you will have more fun with this thing than a $500 game console. Go for it, have fun.

    My name is Al, and I'm a PropHead...
    Last edited by ags0000; 03-30-2012 at 07:34 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What's required for a few different things

    Steve, I've got a Prop Controller (three actually, but only one assembled) They're definitely a good board to learn on. It is a bit of a different "experience" in the fact that it is an 8 core processor.

    Here's a link to download their IDE: http://www.parallax.com/tabid/442/Default.aspx
    Here's a link to the Google Code Project: http://code.google.com/p/propcontroller/

    A lot of the current code is on there, and a lot of the development code. It's got a DMX library, E1.31 Library, A few of the Pixel Chips, etc. There aren't many add on boards, infact I think I've just developed the first one (DMX output board) I'm going to be using my ethernet board as a E1.31 to DMX bridge. The nice thing is the reconfigurability based on simply reflashing the code. Depending on which method you use to flash the board, you could have either a PropPlug, a FTDI chip with a direct USB connection, or there's a USB breakout board.

    Feel free to ask any questions that you may have, we'll be happy to help you along.
    Check out what the [URL="http://www.extremelightingproducts.com/shop"]Extreme Lighting Products Shop[/URL] is selling!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What's required for a few different things

    I was an Electrical Engineering student back in the early 70's. Back then, I designed S100 board controllers with discrete components and simple TTL chips. Imagine my excitement when I discovered the Atmel MCUs that actually could be programmed fairly simply without a lot of programming hardware. Now, there's an 8 core unit that is actually pretty fast.

    I'm one of those guys that never seems to finish anything. I've got a lot of things that take priority over working out programs and hardware design. My wife's disabled, our house is a mess and needs repair, summer means spending my weekends doing summer maintenance.

    I get lots of ideas that never seem to get put onto paper. So this environment seems like something that fits into my life style a little better than most. I'm going to investigate this along with my newly found Arduino stuff and see if it doesn't become more of a fruit-bearing environment.

    I've downloaded the Prop Tool, found the PDFs, so I've at least got started.

    Thanks all for the replies and offers for assistance.
    steve_

    [I]I really enjoy being in the over-60 age group. I can get grumpy, assertive, and opinionated and not feel too guilty about it.[/I]

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What's required for a few different things

    Don't forget that you can get the dev board mentioned earlier along with some sensor at Radio Shack. They are more expensive but you could have them today.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What's required for a few different things

    I ordered the Quick Start board this morning. Part of delving into a new device is discovering what hardware is available to help you play with it. There's quite a bit of reading ahead, and sorting out a good way to get the most out of the development boards is not always evident. Recommendations are always welcome.

    I've still not wrapped my brain around all the terminology. For instance, "Prop" seems to be in all of the names of all the hardware. It's hard to remember whether Prop Controller is a development board, a designed board, or something else.

    Give me a little time and I'm sure it'll start registering. The "new" pixel stuff is driving my curiosity for now. There's a few boards I'm interested in, and I'm leaning towards the DMX over ethernet type control. The challenge to be able to design my own stuff is where I'd like to be in a year or so. As a programmer, I've learned many years back that using code from others is the best way to learn, and the fastest way to the end result. So I hope no one minds me stealing code.

    One day, I hope I can contribute something here as others do.
    steve_

    [I]I really enjoy being in the over-60 age group. I can get grumpy, assertive, and opinionated and not feel too guilty about it.[/I]

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What's required for a few different things

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbeard View Post
    I've still not wrapped my brain around all the terminology. For instance, "Prop" seems to be in all of the names of all the hardware. It's hard to remember whether Prop Controller is a development board, a designed board, or something else.
    The chip is called the Propeller, so Prop is short for Propeller. It's called Propeller because of the way it allows each of the processors to access hub ram.

    The PropController is a dev board with zero sense and depending on the board either allows DMX or Ethernet.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What's required for a few different things

    Ben's PropController makes for a good dev platform as good as any - all of the I/O are exposed on several pin headers and if you get the Ethernet version you are good to go for starting with E1.31 if you want. I have both the RS485/DMX and Ethernet/E1.31 versions and hope to play with it more in the future (I keep saying that...).
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