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What happened to Parallax?

#1
I learned to program on the Basic Stamp 2. It had a measly 2KB of program memory, and a very minscule amount of RAM (somewhere in the range of 256 bytes, maybe less). You could only really store a couple hundred lines of code for your program on the microcontroller, so it was anything BUT powerful. However, it was in the basic programming language, so it was extremely easy. 

Python is honestly pretty much just about as easy as BASIC is, while being far more powerful. It would be VERY interesting to see python on a microcontroller at some point, but being that Python's runtime environment is fairly heavyweight compared to a basic environment, I don't see this happening. 

Anyway, the basic stamp was very restrictive due to the extremely small amount of memory. Arduinos have long been the standard because they are more cost effective, more flexible, and much better in terms of hardware (and they are powered by 8-bit AVRs. There is a lot you can do, even with ancient CPUs). 

More interestingly, Parallax had the propellor microcontroller. It was a bit ahead of its time, but it was neat because it literally had eight cores on a single microcontroller. The programming language that it used, however, was VERY restrictive, as the ENTIRE interpreter had to fit within 512 bytes of memory per core. The propeller would have been a fantastic microcontroller with a slightly more powerful language to back it without having to resort to full C. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BASIC_Stamp

As such, it seems that the arduino is more or less carrying the torch now. It's far more powerful, much more cost effective, and very widely accepted. Programs also don't have to fit inside of 2KB of EEPROM, which is nice.

Anyone ever used microcontrollers before? If so, what did you use, and what was your preference?
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#2
Well shit, if this wasn't 50$ from their site I'd buy it.
I reckon that's why the company is nonexistant, just high/marked up prices. No one wants 2KB flash for their programs when smaller and more powerful solutions exist for a fraction of the price :/
I reckon you could get a whole BASIC interface working on a different microcontroller, in any case. Possible next project, emulating a Z80 on an STM32 board (or other 32bit MCU?)

The only time I've done full microcontroller and not dev board work was with an AtMEGA328p (the UNO processor) ripped straight out of the UNO board, because you can do that.
Also used a bunch of 74XX logic gates with it because it was all for a unit in grade 11 computer engineering. Just making circuits and testing them against truth tables to make sure we understood how shit worked before we were sent off to gr12 comp eng where the entire semester was dedicated to a personal project of your choice.

But that's about the bulk of it.
Emulation-wise, I used to play around with WinAPE (a Z80 emulator) which also had a BASIC interface as well as an ASM compiler (16bit to simplify the learning curve to get a grasp on ASM.)

I'd get myself an actual Z80 or 6502 as well but those are also relatively expensive despite being so old. Ben Eater (YouTube) is doing a tutorial series on programming a 6502 from scratch using an EEPROM for RAM and working through all the documentation. He's also selling akit with all the parts, so if I save up I may consider getting one because 6502 is absolutely based and is what old gameboys used to use, so I could try to write something like a GB emulator (is it really emulation if I'm actually using the hardware?) or something.

Edit: Chatbot is stalking me, I'm sure of it.
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#3
The bot does this to everyone. I thought I had fixed it to be less intrusive. We're going to disable it soon.

Regarding parallax, that's more or less my thoughts exactly. I've long wanted to grab a Zilog Z80 and plug away with it. It's pretty powerful if you just need a basic microcontroller for some simple stuff on a hardware board. (My job actually uses a light switch board that is powered by a zilog Z80. It's an old building so this is no surprise. I'll have to upload a picture of its circuit board one of these days.)

Microcontrollers make it so much more accessible, however. You don't have to worry about setting up clock chips, ram chips, rom, etc. The pin-outs for the microprocessor itself are all handled by the Basic Stamp or the Arduino, and the interface that you see is altogether much simpler and easy to use.

That said, it takes the fun out of it a little. I'm designing a little 8 bit CPU in verilog as a side project, and the low-level details can be fun, until you have to wire it all together on a physical board. Finna
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#4
Ah yes, the zed80 ?, you know it was the zilog zed80 that started the British microcomputer revolution and was used in the zxspectrum, (Zed ex spectrum)
That and the Motorola 68000, which would later be used in the msx line of computers as well as the Sega Genesis.

What's fascinating though is that both of these chips are still being produced and with a bit of effort you could diy a zx spectrum these days lol.

As for parralax and propeller.... I've not had the luxury of coming across them.
"I reject your reality and subsitute my own." - Adam Savage, Mythbusters
[Image: 5.jpg]
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#5
(March 5th, 2020 at 1:41 AM)SpookyZalost Wrote: Ah yes, the zed80 ?, you know it was the zilog zed80 that started the British microcomputer revolution and was used in the zxspectrum, (Zed ex spectrum)
That and the Motorola 68000, which would later be used in the msx line of computers as well as the Sega Genesis.

What's fascinating though is that both of these chips are still being produced and with a bit of effort you could diy a zx spectrum these days lol.

As for parralax and propeller.... I've not had the luxury of coming across them.

You might find this interesting:
https://collapseos.org/
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#6
They were very smart supporting BOTH Z80's and AVRs. The AVR lineup is basically similar to a Z80, but clocked way higher. It's an 8 bit CPU designed to modern standards... and I would use one for a retro rig other than the fact that it takes the retro part out of the equation.
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