Monday, August 11, 2008

Improved RCA Audio/Video Connection

Just wanted to show some pics of a homemade RCA Audio/Video Connection I made to use with my PEKit. I used info from OBC's Propeller Cookbook and the pdf for the RCA to Breadboard Adapter. The RCA board was one I scavengeed from an old VCR and I made a set of pins to stand in up in the far left ground bus. Video is tied (through resistors) to the standard pins - 12, 13 and 14. Audio is tied (through capicitors and resistors) to pins 10 and 11.

I attached them to a broken DVD player (as mentioned previously). I have a 12 volt power supply and the display and speakers work great. So all the parts and display are junk I had in my junk box.

I have tested the Graphic_ Demo, TV_Text_Demo, the SingingDemo and the SingingDemoSeven from the library in the Propeller Tool. They work great!

Now that it is working and tested, I may consider tight-wiring it, so it takes up less space. I'm really enjoying playing with Labs and learning my way around the Prop.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Monitor Test for Propeller Education Kit

I have assembled the Propeller Education Kit Platform. I went through the Set-up Lab and tested all the wiring and function. I have been playing with some Spin coding and hardware set-ups. I built a simple RCA video and audio output and tested both (Thanks to The Propeller Cookbook and pdf and sample code for the RCA to breadboard adaptor).

The video below shows the Graphics Demo Program on the Propeller Tool (which is used to send program code to the Propeller). The program itself is the code seen on the computer monitor. Next you see the Propeller Education Kit wired with the RCA Video adapter and and running the graphics demo program. The TV signal is sent from the Propeller Chip through its I/O pins. For my monitor, I hooked up one of my children's broken DVD players. The DVD player is broken, but the monitor works great and has a 3-1/2" X 6" screen. I have a power adapter for it and the screen angle is adjustable. In the video, you can see the Graphics Demo Program running on the monitor. All of the display hook-up and LCD display are junk that I salvaged.

Cool, eh? The Propeller is really fun to play with and incredibly powerful. I have just barely scratched the surface.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Moving to the Parallax Propeller

Well, I finally made the leap up to the Parallax Propeller. The Propeller chip is fantastic step forward in microcontrollers. Its eight processors (cogs) can operate simultaneously, either independently or cooperatively, sharing common resources through a central hub. The eight 32-bit processors (COGs) allow real simultaneous multi-processing! The chip is the result of eight years of work and was designed at the transistor level. The Propeller chip is programmed in both a high-level language, called Spin™, and low-level (assembly) language. With the set of pre-built Parallax “objects” for video, mice, keyboards, RF, LCDs, stepper motors and sensors, a Propeller application is a matter of high-level integration. The Propeller Chip represents the first custom all-silicon product designed by Parallax.

To learn about the Propeller, I chose to buy the Propeller Education Kit - 40 pin DIP Version. This is a complete kit with everything you need to get started with the Propeller microcontroller. Parallax's website has educational labs that you can download the free. The Propeller Education Lessons and Labs utilize the parts in the kit, and new Labs will be released periodically. This kit features breadboard-friendly versions of the Propeller chip, EEPROM and other core components making it easy and inexpensive to learn about the Propeller. If you mess something up it doesn't cost much to replacce parts as needed.

I also bought the Propeller Manual. The Propeller Manual contains detailed Propeller chip architecture information, along with complete syntax and reference guides for both Spin and Propeller Assembly languages.

For spending more that $100, Parallax was offering a free gift of the Propeller Proto Board (Serial Version), so I recieved it too. There are some really fun and educational resources for the Proto Board avaliable on the Parallax Forums produced by user "Oldbitcollector." These resources include the Intro to the Propeller Proto Board and The Propeller Cookbook.

Learning all that the Propeller can do will be a slow process, but there is a lot of help avaliable on the Parallax Forums and at the Propeller Object Exchange. This exchange includes other users solutions to common programming problems which are shared freely on the web. I've already had several folks offer to help me learn or share their code with me. That's one of the reasons I enjoy this so much!

Note: Photos and much of the info above is courtesy of Parallax's excellent website.