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15.2 Inside the Basic Stamp
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When the BASIC Stamp was first designed, low-cost electrically reprogrammable microcontrollers did not exist; this led to the decision to create one by adding a serial EEPROM memory along with a preprogrammed MCU, which resulted in the ability to download and execute applications written on a PC. Fig. 15-2 expands on Fig. 15-1 and shows the circuitry connected to each of the BS2 s pins. Instead of building a robot control circuit out of numerous inverters, AND gates, flip-flops, and other hardware, you can use just the BS2 module to provide the same functionality and do everything in software. Because the Stamp accepts input from the outside world, you can write programs that interact with that input. For instance, it s easy to activate an output line say, one connected to a motor when some other input (like a switch) changes logic states. You could use this scheme, for instance, to program your robot to reverse its motors if a bumper switch is activated. Since this is done under program control and not as hardwired circuitry, it s quite simple to change and enhance your robot as you experiment with it. In operation, your PBASIC program is written on a PC, then downloaded via a serial connection to the BASIC Stamp, where it is stored in EEPROM, as shown in Fig. 15-3. The program in the EEPROM is in the form of tokens, special instructions that are read, one at a time, by the PBasic interpreter stored in the BASIC Stamp s PROM memory. During program execution, temporary data is kept in RAM. Note that the EEPROM memory of the BASIC Stamp is nonvolatile remove the power and its contents remain. The same is not true of the RAM. Remove the power from the BASIC Stamp and any data stored in the RAM is gone. Also note that the PBASIC interpreter, which is stored in the programmable read-only memory (PROM) of the interpreter microcontroller, cannot be changed.
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THE BASIC STAMP 2 MICROCONTROLLER
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FIGURE 15-2 The circuitry behind the BS2 s pins. While the circuitry seems quite complex (especially if you are new to electronics), it actually works together to create an easy to use and program device that is well suited to controlling robots.
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Conversion to Tokens or Byte Codes Program
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FIGURE 15-3 Programs are originally created on your PC and downloaded to the BS2 where they are stored in tokenized format in EEPROM. The PBASIC Interpreter built into the BS2 s microcontroller reads and executes these tokens.
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15.3 DEVELOPER S OPTIONS
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The BASIC Stamp 2 is available directly from Parallax, its manufacturer, or from a variety of dealers the world over. In addition to the BS1, BS2, and Javelin Stamp and the variations listed previously, you ll find that there are several assembled development boards that can be used as the complete circuitry for your robots.
The Board of Education USB programming board (Fig. 15-4) is recommended for anyone that has never worked with a microcontroller before. This BS2 carrier board provides a socket for the BS2 along with power supply connectors and control, a breadboarding area, servo connectors, as well as a USB programming interface. The USB programming interface provides a USB to serial programming and debug connection between your PC and the BS2, eliminating the need for a serial port. The Board of Education carrier board Serial is similar to the Board of Education USB programming board, except that the programming interface is serial rather than USB. The Parallax Professional Development Board has virtually all the interfaces built in for you to learn about the different BASIC Stamps. It would be difficult to interface this product into a robot (especially compared to the previously listed products), but it is an excellent tool for learning about BASIC Stamp interfacing and application hardware and software design. The BASIC Stamp HomeWork board is a stand-alone BS2 built on a PCB along with a breadboard and connectors for a 9-V alkaline (or NiMH) battery. This product is sold
FIGURE 15-4 The USB Board of Education can be used as an experimenter s PCB or even the electronics carrier for your robot.
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