Parallax Update Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, August 28th at noon Pacific for the Parallax Update Hack Chat with Chip and Ken Gracey!

For a lot of us, our first exposure to the world of microcontrollers was through the offerings of Parallax, Inc. Perhaps you were interested in doing something small and light, and hoping to leverage your programming skills from an IBM-PC or an Apple ][, you chanced upon the magic of the BASIC Stamp. Or maybe you had a teacher who built a robotics class around a Boe-Bot, or you joined a FIRST Robotics team that used some Parallax sensors.

Whatever your relationship with Parallax products is, there’s no doubting that they were at the forefront of the hobbyist microcontroller revolution. Nor can you doubt that Parallax is about a lot more than BASIC Stamps these days. Its popular multicore Propeller chip has been gaining a passionate following since its 2006 introduction and has found its way into tons of projects, many of which we’ve featured on Hackaday. And now, its long-awaited successor, the Propeller 2, is almost ready to hit the market.

The Gracey brothers have been the men behind Parallax from the beginning, with Chip designing all the products and Ken running the business. They’ll be joining us on the Hack Chat to catch us up on everything new at Parallax, and to give us the lowdown on the P2. Be sure to stop be with your Parallax questions, or just to say hi.

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events in the Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, August 28 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have got you down, we have a handy time zone converter.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

THP Entry: A 6502 SBC Robot (On Multiple Boards)


Robots have always been a wonderful tool for learning electronics, but if you compare the robot kits from today against the robot kits from the 80s and early 90s, there’s a marked difference. There are fairly powerful microcontrollers in the new ones, and you program them in languages, and not straight machine code. Given this community’s propensity to say, ‘you could have just used a 555,’ this is obviously a problem.

[Carbon]’s entry for The Hackaday Prize is a great retro callback to the Heathkit HERO and robotic arms you can now find tucked away on a shelf in the electronics lab of every major educational institution. It’s a 65C02 single board computer, designed with robotics in mind.

The 6502 board is just what you would expect; a CPU, RAM, ROM, CPLD glue, and a serial port. The second board down on the stack is rather interesting – it’s a dual channel servo board made entirely out of discrete logic. The final board in the stack is an 8-channel ADC meant for a Pololu reflective sensor, making this 6502 in a Boe-bot chassis a proper line-following robot, coded in 6502 assembly.

[Carbon]’s video of his bot below.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

Continue reading “THP Entry: A 6502 SBC Robot (On Multiple Boards)”

Interfacing With An Analog Joystick

[Firestorm_x1] put together a tutorial about interfacing an analog joystick with a microcontroller. These analog sticks are easy to find; he got his from Goodwill but we’ve got a couple in our junk box right now. The stick uses variable resistors to report its position so it’s just a matter of reading and interpreting that data. After explaining the concepts he demonstrates how to use the joystick to control a Basic Stamp 2 based robot, the Boe-Bot. This could easily be adapted for use with other robot platforms.

Simple Servo Bot Plans


oomlout has posted some interesting plans for a simple robot. It’s based around an Arduino and is a platform similar to the Parallax Boe-Bot. The Arduino sends PWM signals to continuos rotation servos that drive the two main wheels. All of the structural components are laser cut from acrylic with slots to hold standard hex nuts. It’s an interesting technique, but the design has a lot of potential for improvement. Right now it uses two different power supplies and a breadboard for simple connections. From the video below, you can see that the balance could be improved as well. Continue reading “Simple Servo Bot Plans”