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Copyright 2006, 2001, 1987 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Click here for terms of use.
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THE BASIC STAMP 2 MICROCONTROLLER
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Variety of different models with varying performance and features RS-232 programming/debug interface Literally thousands of example applications to choose from Excellent manufacturer (Parallax Inc.) support
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As you gain experience and sophistication, the downsides of the BS2 compared to other MCU solutions will become apparent. Many of these issues are a result of trade-offs to provide pin-specific functions or downloadability (in a chip that didn t have this feature when the BS2 was first designed). For example, once you have bought one BS2, the price of subsequent units does not go down because you already have the programmer and development software. As noted, the programmer interface is built into each BS2 rather than buying a single programmer and using that for multiple chips, as is done in most other MCUs. The +5 V regulator is somewhat fragile and cannot be used to power much more than just some LEDs and other basic interfaces. When the BS2 was designed (in the late 1990s), all PCs had RS-232 interfaces, which made sense at the time; now, with RS-232 being phased out of many systems, you will have to buy an USB to RS-232 converter. Finally, the execution speed is about 4000 statements per second, fast enough for most robot requirements but not fast enough for sophisticated interfaces. Despite these issues, the BS2 is an excellent first MCU to work with and remains a favorite of many robot designers, both beginner and expert. The MCU itself is very reliable (especially after following a few rules that are outlined in this chapter); the software development tools are rock-solid stable (something you will appreciate more as you become more familiar with different systems); and Parallax provides an excellent selection of data sheets and application notes along with a full line of interfacing and support products for you to choose from.
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15.1 Choosing the Right Stamp for Your Application
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When you see most projects that have a BASIC Stamp in them, they use the standard 24 pin, 0.600-in wide DIP package shown in Fig. 15-1. This is only one of several packages and optional features that are available for the microcontroller. While the 24 pin package is the most popular and the one that you are most likely to use, there are about a dozen different ways that you could use BASIC Stamp packages in your robot. Some of these packages also make the integration of the MCU into the robot a lot easier than using the 24 pin package. To start off, the Stamps are all designed with a similar architecture; a general-purpose microcontroller is connected to the programming interface to provide a download interface from a PC to the electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) program memory. During program execution, this microcontroller reads the EEPROM, interprets the program instructions, and carries them out using its built-in I/O pins. The I/O pins can be used for a variety of different purposes over and above simple digital input and out-
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15.1 CHOOSING THE RIGHT STAMP FOR YOUR APPLICATION
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FIGURE 15-1 The connection layout or pinout of the BASIC Stamp 2.
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put. The microcontroller is usually referred to as the interpreter chip. Along with the microcontroller, EEPROM, and serial programming interface, the Stamp has a power supply that will convert +5 to +15 V DC to 5 V for use by the microcontroller as well as some devices connected to the Stamp, an oscillator for the microcontroller along with a reset circuit. It should be obvious that while the Stamps are referred to as chips (primarily because they plug into a chip socket) they are actually complex modules that integrate a number of different components into a single microcontroller function. There are three Stamp product families that you should be aware of. The first is the venerable BASIC Stamp 1 (BS1), which first came out in 1992. This microcontroller is built in either a very small single in-line package (SIP) (1.4 in long and 0.6 in high) using SMT parts or on a larger PCB (2.5 in by 1.5 in) that includes a small prototyping area. The BS1 has eight I/O pins and runs at a rate of about 2000 instructions per second. The EEPROM, which is used to store the program, will store about 80 instructions. There are a total of 14 variable memory bytes available. The BS1 s parallel port programming differs from the other BASIC Stamps and is one of the features that makes it difficult to work with; Windows/ 2000 and Windows/XP, which are the most commonly used PC operating systems, do not allow programs direct access to the Parallel port. Parallax sells (and has published the schematic so that you can build it yourself) a serial to parallel BS1 programming interface so that the BS1 can be used with the latest versions of Windows (using the latest BASIC Stamp interfacing software). The BASIC Stamp 2 (BS2), which will be used as the example MCU in this book, is the second-generation MCU and by far the most popular. It is important to realize that there is more than one BS2; Parallax offers a number of different devices (listed in Table 15-1) that offer different features to the original BS2 (which is given the part number BS2-IC by Parallax). In Table 15-1 the BASIC Stamp s speed is measured in instructions per second; the different BS2s execute 4000 (4k) to 19,000 instructions per second. This is a surprisingly accurate specification for simple operations, and the reciprocal of the speed specification can be used to roughly calculate the operation time of a block of code.
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