Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gadget Gangster QuickVGA+ for Parallax Propellor

Gadget Gangster QuickVGA+ board for the Parallax Propeller Quickstart Board
Propeller Quickstart Add-Ons Galore

I mentioned that I picked up a Parallax Propeller Quickstart Board a while ago, and finally got around to playing with it.

Well, I've played with it a lot more now, in part thanks to a cool add-on board from an outfit called Gadget Gangster. I bought a Quickstart VGA+ board from them. It adds a nice VGA port (duh) as well a a PS/2 keyboard port (that's PS/2 as in the old IBM "Personal System/2", not Playstation 2), a stereo audio output, and a Wii Nunchuck port (or the classic controller can go here.) All on one little business card sized board, that fits right on top of the Parallax Quickstart board.

It's a nice combination of features. It's also got places for adding an SD card connector (which I've done), an IR port, and a composite video port.

There's a Pocket Mini Computer project built around this board, that's sort of a C-64 retro-clone kind of system. I look forward to trying that out some time when I get tired of playing with the Wii nunchuck as a raw sensor in software.

One note about that...

The nunchuck software that Gadget Gangster recommended didn't work right out of the box. I've posted na updated version of the nunchuck demo software at the Parallax Propeller Object Exchange, the place where Propeller users post their software for others to modify and use. I modified the demo to use the correct I/O lines for the QuickVGA+ board, and I added a bit of code to make it more clear what's going on with the accelerometers in the nunchuck.

Next, I'll be building up my Gadget Gangster QuickProto board, which came in a bundle deal with a QuickStart board (so, yes, I now have two Quickstart boards. And I ordered one for my daughter, too.

Pennies from Heaven
That's not all the Propellers running around the house, as it happens. While we were at the Parallax Robot Expo, my daughter and I picked up some stuff off the Free table. Among those items were a pair of slightly used Propeller Proto USB boards and one one-off PCB Propeller board that appears to mainly for servos. My daughter has one of the Proto boards and I have the other, as well as the one-off PCB.

I've already added PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports to my Prop Proto board, as well as a composite audio/video adapter. I have plans for this board...

I also found an early rev of the Parallax QuickStart Proto board in my bag of goodies, which I'm planning to use to put a sort of Elf II I/O interface on a Quickstart board. A hex keyboard, a pair of hex displays, some control switches, and hey-ho it's 1977 all over again. :)

Bottom line on the Propeller: It's heaps of fun to play with. Quick and easy. I keep thinking I ought to stop and read the documentation, but it hasn't been necessary, yet.

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