Propeller proto board has you flying in no time

propeller_proto_board

[Parker] was in need of a Propeller development board to make working on his projects easier. More often than not, when he needed to prototype something, he would pull the only one he had on hand from his home made pinball machine, and replace it when finished. This was time consuming and cumbersome, so he decided he needed a better way of doing things.

He looked into purchasing a Gadget Gangster proto board which allows you to use a Propeller much like an Arduino, complete with support for shields and the like. Unfortunately, they were sold out and he was in a hurry to finish up a project. Rather than wait, he decided to build his own proto board, which would be more flexible than the COTS version – allowing him to add things like an Analog to Digital converter without having to use a shield.

He looked around online and found some schematics to follow, and had his proto board constructed in no time. It gets the job done and looks quite clean, considering it was put together using perf board.

Keep reading to see a video walkthrough of the Propeller development board construction.

Comments

  1. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s very well explained and… hey is that a SD card slot? :)

  2. Brennan says:

    As a side note, I bought a dev board (C3) and a book for the propeller and I am not very impressed. The multicore processing is really not much of a selling point once you consider that several cores have to be tied up doing mundane tasks that a PIC can do while simultaneously running sequential code and interrupts. Want a UART module? There goes a core. Want an ADC module? There goes a core. Want basic debugging features that are still underpowered compared to PIC? There goes a core. By the end of it you don’t really have much multiprocessing capability. The advantage is you [arguably] have greater control over the modules being used and the existing object library is very handy. Plus video generation is much easier than on other uC’s if that’s yoru thing. But overall I think the chip is a novelty and pretty much only good for limited DIY project use. Just my $.02, I’m sure many people will disagree with me on here.

  3. Karl says:

    pushing a piece of wood thru a circular saw w/o a pushstick [video opening], and he still has all his fingers – remarkable

  4. Brennan, we’ve been using propellers in commercial UAV and autonomous vessels for three years now, they do the job. Cores can watchdog each other, which is handy for that sort of thing.

  5. Jac Goudsmit says:

    Nice video!

    I’ve been thinking of doing something similar with my own Propeller project which is currently on a breadboard, but I would put all parts (or at least the Propeller and the EEPROM) in sockets so they’re easy to remove and reuse. I would also put a heat sink on the 7805 because my project has a bunch of TTL chips.

  6. @Brennan

    Depends on what you want to do. The propeller can do more then only 8 things. The Cogs are really fast even when they run spin.

    The pinball machine I am working on runs off of 1 prop. It runs 2 SD cards, 2 Stereo 44kHz sound (thats 4 channels of audio), a 96×16 LED matrix display which supports animations, the kernel, 16 7-segment displays, 16 16-segment displays, all the LEDs to do the playfield (about 64 individually controlled), along with the solenoid/motor controller and the general I/O board that does the switches. All that and it can still find time to run a I2C routine to run a 64K eeprom.

    Trying to do this on an Arduino would be a nightmare of interrupts. Propeller makes it so easy. Now I am not saying there isn’t a place for Arduino microcontrollers. Now your thinking with Propellers!

    @Karl I don’t know about you but I don’t close my eyes when using a table saw :)

    Thanks for the comments people!

  7. elcomol says:

    Good pro video!
    I`m gonna build that, thanks. I go add a video/vga connector to it. Would be nice to make a oldskool standalone text based computer out of it. I see PropDOS is available. There is also a spin compiler for the propellor.

  8. Brennan says:

    @The Longhorn Engineer

    The propeller cogs aren’t terribly fast as far as uC’s go. Assuming a clock speed of 100MHz (via PLL) each cog can run at 1/4 that speed because of the 4:1 clock cycle:instruction cycle divider. A PIC32 can run at 80MIPS and technically can perform “parallel” processing even though it requires more planning and thought. I could easily run all of those peripherals on a PIC32 board but it would probably take more time to develop. As far as rapid prototyping goes, I would pick a Prop over an Arduino any day, but professionally I still use Microchip PIC.

  9. localroger says:

    @Brennan don’t forget that part of the Propeller’s design genius is the very small cog RAM, which allows each 32-bit instruction run @ 20 MiPS to include source and destination addresses as well as a whole bunch of condition and result flags that normally take extra instructions in a 32-bit CPU. This easily doubles the throughput compared to a larger memory architecture running the same #iPS.

    What I find special about the prop is that there are *no* hardware defined capabilities; if you want to run 28 serial ports by running the 4-port UART object in 7 cogs, you’re good to go. Or three *different* NTSC video outputs. When cogs are tight it is also possible to program them more creatively than the default objects suggest; I just did one that does high-speed I2C and a UART channel at the same time.

    OTOH while PICs are available with a wide variety of I/O capabilities, if your app doesn’t happen to conform to what they have anticipated life gets much harder.

  10. I’m a huge fan of the GGPP board, but I’m positive you will get more enjoyment from the clone that you built. (Just because you built it)

    Order a AV board from Wulfden (http://www.wulfden.org/TheShoppe/prop/prplatvga.shtml) or just build one.. :) and you’ll be set.

    The multicore abilities of the Propeller are what make it special and set it apart from so many other micros.

  11. Sup Dawg says:

    “Yo Dawg! I heard you like to emulate peripherals in software so we put eight microcontrollers in your microcontroller, so you can emulate while you emulate.”

  12. N0LKK says:

    Parker should have built several while he was at it. Sooner or later this one will get tied up in a project,and he’s without a development board again.

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