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Microcontrollers Overview

Parallax designs and manufactures two microcontrollers, the BASIC Stamp and Propeller chip. The BASIC Stamp, developed in 1992 is widely used by hobbyists, engineers, and students around the world. The multicore Propeller Chip, our newest chip, is gaining tremendous popularity. It is used in many industries including manufacturing, process control, robotics, automotive and communications. Hobbyists and Engineers alike are finding new uses for the Propeller chip every day.

Propeller Chip

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Propeller chips in a tray

Go multicore with the Propeller chip. This chip features eight 32-bit processors and a shared memory and system clock, making true independent and cooperative simultaneous multi-tasking possible. Developer has full control over how and when each cog is employed; there is no compiler-driven or operating system-driven splitting of tasks among multiple cogs. A shared system clock keeps each cog on the same time reference, allowing for true deterministic timing and synchronization. Users appreciate the overall processing power, I/O capabilities, on-board video generation, parallel processing, easy connections to popular PC peripherals and more.

Points of Interest

  • Pre-written objects for the Propeller are offered for free on the Parallax website, including drivers for mice, keyboards, video, VGA, and many more.
  • The ability to develop objects (object orientated programming) makes complex project development easy.
  • Eight concurrent, independent processors on a single chip.
  • Programmed in C/C++ with Propeller GCC, Object-based Spin language, Low-level Assembly which can execute at up to 160 MIPS (20 MIPS per cog)



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BASIC Stamp 2 modules

The BASIC Stamp line of microcontrollers was created specifically to make learning to use a μ-controller simple and easy.

A BASIC Stamp is a single-board computer that runs the Parallax PBASIC language interpreter in its microcontroller. Functioning as stand-alone ICs, beginners can plug a BASIC Stamp into a board and immediately begin programming, with no other circuitry required. The enormous amount of information for BASIC Stamps available in print and online make the Stamp line one of the most widely documented μ-controllers in existence.

Due to its ease of use, Stamp ICs are the microcontrollers of choice in thousands of high schools and universities around the world.

Points of Interest

  • The BASIC Stamp family of microcontrollers can execute between 2,000 and 19,000 instructions per second, depending on model.
  • The efficient BASIC Stamp 2 draws a mere 3 mA of current while running, and in sleep mode requires only 50 μA. All general purpose I/O lines on Stamp modules can be set as either inputs or outputs, and can be switched at run time.
  • The PBASIC language of the Stamps place many powerful commands in the hands of users, making complex tasks such as pulse width modulation, serial communication and button debounce as simple as a single instruction.
  • Direct video output and easy interface to external periferals such as a keyboard, mouse, and VGA monitor
  • The BASIC Stamp microcontroller is ideal for hobby, lower-volume engineering projects and education due to ease of use and a wide support base of application resources.


BOE Shield for Arduino

Board Of Education Shield (for Arduino)

Parallax offers a development board and robotics kit specifically for the Arduino, as well as example code for many of our most popular sensors and accessories. The Board of Education Shield, a variation of our cornerstone BASIC Stamp BOE and multi-core Propeller Activity Board, is used by students and hobbyists in many countries. Tested with the Ardunio Uno, Mega, and Duemilanove, the Board of Education Shield facilitates circuit-building and experimentation with different varieties and combinations of electronic components and sensors.

BOE Shield, Robotics Kit, and Arduino-Friendly Sensors and Accessories