If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to experiment with Parallax’s Propeller microcontroller, then opportunity is knocking at your door. A current sale price has reduced the Parallax PropSTICK Kit to $50.
In Parallax parlance, a Propeller processor is called a cog. Each Propeller contains eight 32-bit cogs. Revolving around a central “hub,” these eight cogs can operate simultaneously or independently at speeds up to 20 MIPS per cog. This central hub concept contributes to the processor’s name: Propeller.
Inside the kit you will find all of the components necessary for building a thin PCB carrier for the Propeller microcontroller: the 40-pin DIP Propeller, a 32Kb EEPROM, 3.3VDC voltage regulator, reset button, and RS-232C serial programming connector. There is also a set of 40 socket/header pins for facilitating the insertion of the completed PCB into a breadboard. Oh, and that wooden popsicle stick that is included in the kit is really a “wooden extractor” for popping the PropSTICK out of a breadboard.
The completed PropSTICK can be programmed with a special Propeller programming language called Spin. This proprietary byte code interpreter language is built into the microcontroller. Access to the interpreter is provided via a free Windows PC application known as Propeller Tool Software (currently at Version 1.06). A faster Propeller assembly language option is also available. One interesting quirk with the Tool software is that an application must contain a bit of Spin code during startup.
Once you’ve built your PropSTICK and programmed a killer project, don’t forget to return to the Parallax Web site for entering the 2008 Propeller Design Contest. Maybe the $2,000 First Place prize is enough incentive to take a Propeller for a spin, eh?