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You program a BASIC Stamp using the BASIC programming language. If you already know BASIC, then you will find that the BASIC used in a Stamp is straightforward but a little stripped-down. If you don't know BASIC, but you do know another language like C, Pascal or Java, then picking up BASIC will be trivial. If you have never programmed before, you probably want to go learn programming on a desktop machine first. Here is a quick rundown on the instructions available in Stamp BASIC. (For complete documentation, go to Parallax: BASIC Stamp Documentation.) Standard BASIC instructions:
for...next - normal looping statement gosub - go to a subroutine goto - goto a label in the program (e.g. - "label:") if...then - normal if/then decision let - assignment (optional) return - return from a subroutine end - end the program and sleep Instructions having to do with I/O pins:
button - read a button on an input pin, with debounce and auto-repeat high - set an I/O pin high input - set the direction of an I/O pin to input low - set an I/O pin low output - set the direction of an I/O pin to output pot - read a potentiometer on an I/O pin pulsin - read the duration of a pulse coming in on an input pin pulsout - send a pulse of a specific duration out on an output pin pwm - perform pulse width modulation on an output pin reverse - reverse the direction of an I/O pin serin - read serial data on an input pin serout - write serial data on an output pin sound - send a sound of a specific frequency to an output pin toggle - toggle the bit on an output pin Instructions specific to the BASIC Stamp:
branch - read a branching table debug - send a debugging string to the console on the desktop computer eeprom - download a program to EEPROM lookdown - return the index of a value in a list lookup - array lookup using an index nap - sleep for a short time pause - delay for the specified time random - pick a random number read - read a value from EEPROM sleep - power down for the specified time write - write data to EEPROM Operations:
+ - addition - - subtraction * - multiplication (low-word) ** - multiplication (high-word) / - division // - mod
max - return maximum of 2 values min - return minimum of 2 values & - AND | - OR ^ - XOR &/ - NAND |/ - NOR ^/ - XNOR If statement logic:
= <> < <= > >= AND OR Variables All variables in the BS-1 have pre-defined names (which you can substitute with names of your own). Remember that there are only 14 bytes of RAM available, so variables are precious. Here are the standard names:
w0, w1, w2...w6 - 16-bit word variables b0, b1, b2...b13 - 8-bit byte variables bit0, bit1, bit2...bit15 - 1-bit bit variables Because there are only 14 bytes of memory, w0 and b0/b1 are the same locations in RAM, and w1 and b2/b3 are the same, and so on. Also, bit0 through bit15 reside in w0 (and therefore b0/b1 as well). I/O pins You can see that 14 of the instructions in the BS-1 have to do with the I/O pins. The reason for this emphasis is the fact that the I/O pins are the only way for the BASIC Stamp to talk to the world. There are eight pins on the BS-1 (numbered 0 to 7) and 16 pins on the BS-2 (numbered 0 to 15). The pins are bi-directional, meaning that you can read input values on them or send output values to them. The easiest way to send a value to a pin is to use the HIGH or LOW functions. The statement high 3 sends a 1 (+5 volts) out on pin 3. LOW sends a 0 (Ground). Pin 3 was chosen arbitrarily here -- you can send bits out on any pin from 0 to 7. There are a number of interesting I/O pin instructions. For example, POT reads the setting on a potentiometer (variable resistor) if you wire it up with a capacitor as the POT instruction expects. The PWM instruction sends out pulse-width modulated signals. Instructions like these can make it a lot easier to attach controls and motors to the Stamp. See the documentation for the language for details. Also, a book like Scott Edward's Programming and Customizing the BASIC Stamp Computer can be extremely helpful because of the example projects it contains.
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Playing with a BASIC Stamp
If you would like to play with a BASIC Stamp, it's very easy to get started. What you need is a desktop computer and a BASIC Stamp starter kit. The starter kit includes the Stamp, a programming cable and an application that you run on your desktop computer to download BASIC programs into the Stamp. You can get a starter kit either from Parallax (the manufacturer) or from a supplier like Jameco (who should be familiar to you from the electronic gates and digital clock articles). From Parallax, you can order the BASIC Stamp D
Starter Kit (part number 27202), or from Jameco you can order part number 140089. You will receive the Stamp (pictured below), a programming cable, software and instructions. The kit is $79 from both suppliers. Occasionally, Parallax runs a special called "We've Bagged the Basics" that also includes Scott Edward'sProgramming and Customizing the BASIC Stamp Computer. Hooking up the Stamp is easy. You connect it into the parallel port of your PC. Then you run a DOS application to edit your BASIC program and download it to the Stamp. Here is a screenshot of a typical editor (in this case, the one from Scott Edward's book):
To run the program in this editor, you hit ALT-R. The editor application checks the BASIC program and then sends it down the wire to the EEPROM on the Stamp. The Stamp then executes the program. In this case, the program produces a square wave on I/O pin 3. If you hook up a logic probe or LED to pin 3 (see the electronic gates articlefor details), you will see the LED flash on and off twice per second (it changes state every 250 milliseconds because of the PAUSE commands). This program would run for several weeks off of a 9-volt battery. You could save power by shortening the time that the LED is on (perhaps it is on for 50 milliseconds and off for 450 milliseconds), and also by using the NAP instruction instead of PAUSE.
Creating a Really Expensive Digital Clock
Spending $79 to flash an LED may seem extravagant to you. What you would probably like to do is create something useful with your BASIC stamp. By spending about $100 more you can create a really nice digital clock! This may seem extremely extravagant, until you realize that the parts are reusable in a variety of other projects that you may want to build later. Let's say that we would like to use the I/O pins on the BASIC Stamp to display numeric values. In the digital clock article, we saw how to interface to a 7-segment LED display using a 7447 chip. 7447s would work just as well with the BASIC Stamp. You could wire four of the I/O pins straight into a 7447 and easily display a number between 0 and 9. Since the BS-1 Stamp has eight I/O pins, it is easy to drive two 7447s directly like this. For a clock, we need a minimum of four digits. To drive four 7447s with eight I/O pins, we have to be slightly more creative. The following diagram shows you one approach:
In this diagram, the eight I/O lines from the Stamp enter from the left. This approach uses four lines that run to all four 7447s. Then the other four lines from the Stamp activate the 7447s in sequence ("E" on the chips means "Enable" -on a 7447, that would be the blanking input on pin 5). To make this arrangement work, the BASIC program in the Stamp would output the first digit on the four data lines and activate the first 7447 by toggling its E pin with the first control line. Then it would send out the value for the second digit and activate the second 7447, sequencing through all four of the 7447s like this repeatedly. By wiring things slightly differently, you could actually do this with only one 7447. By using a 74154 demultiplexer chip and some drivers, you could drive up to 16 digits using this approach. This is, in fact, a standard way to control LED displays. For example, if you have an old LED calculator, turn it on and shake it while watching the display. You will actually be able to see that only one digit is ever illuminated at once. The approach is called multiplexing the display. While this approach works fine for clocks and calculators, it has two important problems:
LEDs consume a lot of power. 7-segment LEDs can only display numeric values. An alternative approach is to use an LCD screen. As it turns out, LCDs are widely available and can be easily hooked to a Stamp. For example, the two-line by 16-character alphanumeric display shown below is available from both Jameco (part number 150990) and Parallax (part number 27910). A typical display is shown here, mounted on a breadboard for easier interfacing:
This sort of LCD has several advantages:
The display can be driven by a single I/O pin. The display contains logic that lets a Stamp communicate with itserially, so only one I/O pin is needed. In addition, the SEROUT command in Stamp BASIC handles serial communication easily, so talking to the display is simple. The LCD can display alphanumeric text: letters, numbers and even custom characters. The LCD consumes very little power -- only 3 milliamps. The only problem is that one of these displays costs $59. Obviously, you would not embed one of these in atoaster oven. If you were designing a toaster oven, however, you would likely prototype with one of these displays and then create custom chips and software to drive much cheaper LCDs in the final product. To drive a display like this, you simply supply it with +5 volts and ground (the Stamp supplies both from the 9-volt battery) and then hook one of the I/O pins from the Stamp to the display's input line. The easiest way I have found to connect the Stamp's I/O pins to a device like an LCD is to use a wire-wrap tool (Jameco part number 34577) and 30gauge wire wrap wire (Jameco part number 22541 is typical). That way, no soldering is involved and the connections are compact and reliable. The following BASIC program will cause a BASIC Stamp to behave like a clock and output the time on the LCD (assuming the LCD is connected to I/O pin 0 on the Stamp):
pause 1000 'wait for LCD display to boot serout 0, n2400, (254, 1) 'clear the display serout 0, n2400, ("time:") 'Paint "time:" on the display 'preset before loading program b0 = 0 'seconds b1 = 27 'minutes b2 = 6 'hours again: b0 = b0 + 1 if b0 < 60 then minutes b0 = 0 b1 = b1 + 1 minutes: if b1 < 60 then hours b1 = 0 b2 = b2 + 1 hours: if b2 < 13 then show b2 = 1 'increment seconds 'if seconds=60 ' then increment minutes 'if minutes=60 ' then increment hours 'if hours=13 reset to 1
show: serout 0, n2400, (254, 135) 'position cursor on display, 'then display time serout 0, n2400, (#b2, ":", #b1, ":", #b0, " ") pause 950 'pause 950 milliseconds goto again 'repeat
In this program, the SEROUT commands send data to the LCD. The sequence (254, 1) clears the LCD (254 is the escape character and 1 is the command to clear the screen). The sequence (254, 135) positions the cursor. The other two SEROUT commands simply send text strings to the display. This approach will create a reasonably accurate clock. By tweaking the PAUSE statement you can get the accuracy to within a few seconds a day. Obviously, in a real clock you would like to wire up a push-button or two to make setting it easier -- in this program, you preset the time before you download the program to the Stamp. While this approach is simple and works, it is not incredibly accurate. If you want better accuracy, one good approach would be to wire a real-time clock chip up to your Stamp. Then, every second or so, you can read the time from the chip and display it. A real-time clock chip uses a quartz crystal to give it excellent accuracy. Clock chips also usually contain date information and handle leap year correction automatically. One easy way to interface a real-time clock to a stamp is to use a component called the Pocket Watch B.
Pocket Watch B Module
The Pocket Watch B is available from both Jameco (part number 145630) and Parallax (part number 27962). This part is about as big as a quarter and contains the clock chip, crystal and a serial interface so that only one I/O pin is necessary to communicate with it. This component costs about $30 -- again, not something you want to embed in a toaster oven, but easy to play with when constructing prototypes.
Building a Digital Thermometer
Now that you understand a little bit about your Stamp and the LCD, we can add another component and create a digital thermometer. To create a thermometer, we will use a chip called the DS1620. This chip contains:
A temperature-sensing device An analog-to-digital (A/D) converter for the temperature-sensing device A shift register to read the data out of the A/D converter A little EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) to remember settings The DS1620 has two modes: In one mode, it acts as a stand-alone thermostat chip, and in the other mode you hook it up to a computer and use it as a thermometer. The EEPROM remembers the current mode as well as the set temperatures for the thermostat. Hooking up the DS1620 to the Stamp is very easy. The DS1620 comes in an 8-pin chip. Supply +5 volts from the Stamp to pin 8 of the DS1620. Supply ground to pin 4 of the DS1620. You then use three I/O pins from the Stamp to drive three pins on the DS1620:
Pin 1 on the DS1620 is the data pin. You read and write data bits on this pin. Pin 2 on the DS1620 is the clock pin. You clock data in and out of the shift register with this pin. Pin 3 on the DS1620 is the reset/select pin. You set pin 3 high to select the chip and communicate with it. For this example code, it is assumed that: The data pin goes to I/O pin 2 on the Stamp. The clock pin goes to I/O pin 1 on the Stamp. The reset/select pin goes to I/O pin 0 on the Stamp. The completed wiring looks like this:
You can get a DS1620 either from Jameco (part number 146456) or Parallax (part number 27917) in an "application kit" that includes the chip, the capacitor, some good documentation and sample code. Or you can buy the chip on its own from Jameco (part number 114382). I would suggest getting the application kit the first time you try using the DS1620 because the documentation is very useful. You can assemble the DS1620 in the prototype area of the Stamp carrier board or on a separate breadboard. Once you have assembled it, hook your LCD display up to I/O pin 3 of the Stamp, and then load and run the following program:
symbol symbol symbol symbol symbol
RST = 0 ' select/reset line on 1620 CLK = 1 ' clock line for shift registers on 1620 DQ = 2 ' data line on 1620 DQ_PIN = pin2 ' pin representation for DQ LCD = 3 ' data line for LCD ' deselect the 1620 unless talking to it ' clock pin on 1620 should default high ' wait for the thermometer and LCD to boot select the 1620 $0c is the 1620 command byte saying "Write Config" send it to the 1620 %10 is the 1620 command byte to set thermometer mode send it to the 1620 deselect the 1620 delay 50ms for EEPROM $EE is the 1620 command byte to start conversions select the 1620 send it to the 1620 deselect the 1620
begin: low RST high CLK pause 1000 setup: high RST b0 = $0C
' ' ' gosub shift_out ' b0 = %10 ' ' gosub shift_out ' low RST ' pause 50 ' start_convert: b0 = $EE ' ' high RST ' gosub shift_out ' low RST '
' This is the main loop ' - reads and displays temperature every second main_loop: high RST ' select the 1620 b0 = $AA ' $AA is the 1620 command byte ' for reading temperature gosub shift_out ' send it to the 1620 gosub shift_in ' read the temperature ' from the 1620 low RST ' deselect the DS1620. gosub display ' display the temp in degrees C pause 1000 ' wait a second goto main_loop ' The shift_out subroutine sends whatever is in ' the b0 byte to the 1620 shift_out: output DQ ' set the DQ pin to ' output mode for b2 = 1 to 8 low CLK ' prepare to clock the bit ' into 1620 DQ_PIN = bit0 ' Send the data bit high CLK ' latch data bit into 1620 b0 = b0/2 ' shift all bits right ' toward bit 0 next return ' The shift_in subroutine gets a 9-bit ' temperature from the 1620 shift_in: input DQ ' set the DQ pin to ' input mode w0 = 0 ' clear w0 for b5 = 1 to 9 w0 = w0/2 ' shift input right. low CLK ' ask 1620 for next bit bit8 = DQ_PIN ' read the bit high CLK ' toggle clock pin next return ' Displays the temperature in degrees C display: if bit8 = 0 then pos ' if bit8=1 ' then temp is negative b0 = b0 &/ b0 ' invert b0 by NANDing it ' with itself b0 = b0 + 1 pos: serout LCD, n2400, (254, 1) ' clear the LCD serout LCD, n2400, ("Temp = ") ' display "Temp=" ' on the display bit9 = bit0 ' save the half degree b0 = b0 / 2 ' convert to degrees
if bit8 = 1 then neg ' see if temp is negative serout LCD, n2400, (#b0) ' display positive temp goto half neg: serout LCD, n2400, ("-", #b0)' display negative temp half: if bit9 = 0 then even serout LCD, n2400, (".5 C") ' display the half degree goto done even: serout LCD, n2400, (".0 C") ' display the half degree done: return
If you run this program, you will find that it displays the centigrade temperature with an accuracy of one-half degree. The DS1620 measures temperatures in centigrade half-degrees. It returns the temperature in a 9-bit 2s-complement number with a range of -110 to 250 F (-55 to 125 C). You divide the number you receive by 2 to get the actual temperature. 2s-complement binary numbers are a convenient way to represent negative values. The following list shows the values for a 4-bit 2s-complement number:
0111 0110 0101 0100 0011 0010 0001 0000 1111 1110 1101 1100 1011 1010 1001 1000
: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :
7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8
You can see that instead of the 4 bits representing values from 0 to 15, the 4 bits in a 2s-complement number represent the values -8 to 7. You can look at the left-most bit to determine if the number is negative or positive. If the number is negative, you can invert the bits and add 1 to get the positive representation of the number. Here's what goes on with the digital thermometer program shown here: 1. 2. 3. It uses the symbol keyword to set up several constants that make the program slightly easier to read (and also make it easy for you to move the chip to different I/O pins on the Stamp). It sets the CLK and RST pins on the DS1620 to their expected values. It writes a command byte to the EEPROM on the DS1620 to tell the chip to operate in "thermometer mode." Because the mode is stored in EEPROM, you only have to do it once, so you could technically take this section of the code out of the program after you run the program once (to save program space). The program sends the command $EE ("$" means "hexadecimal number" -- $EE is 238 in decimal) to tell the thermometer to start up its conversion process. The program then enters a loop. Every second, it sends a command to the DS1620 telling the DS1620 to return the current temperature, and then it reads the 9-bit value that the DS1620 returns into the w0 variable. The Stamp sends and receives data 1 bit at a time by toggling the CLK line on the DS1620. Remember that the w0 (16-bit) variable overlays the b0/b1 (8-bit) variables, which overlay the bit0/bit1/.../bit15 (1-bit) variables, so when you insert a bit from the DS1620 into bit 8 and divide w0 by 2, what you are doing is shifting each bit to the right to store the 9-bit temperature from the DS1620 into w0. Once the temperature has been saved in w0, the display subroutine determines whether the number is positive or negative and displays it appropriately on the LCD as a centigrade temperature. The conversion from degrees C to degrees F is:
dF = dC * 9/5 + 32 At this point, we have succeeded in creating an extremely expensive thermometer. What might you do with it? Here's one idea. Let's say you work for a drug company and you are shipping expensive drugs across the country that MUST remain at a certain temperature the entire way or the drugs will spoil. What you can do with a Stamp is create a data logging thermometer. Both Jameco (part number 143811) and Parallax (part number 27960) sell a device called the "RAM Pack module." It contains a low-power 8-kilobyte (or optionally 32-kilobyte) RAM chip with a serial interface. You could add this component (or something similar) to your Stamp and write code that saves temperature readings to the RAM every minute. You could then slip your Stamp into the drug shipment, and at the other end of the trip retrieve the Stamp. The RAM module would contain the temperature history of the entire trip and you would know whether or not the drugs ever thawed out. There are all kinds of neat, useful devices like this that you can build with a Stamp now that you know how microcontrollers work! For more information on microcontrollers and related topics, check out the links on the next page.
Lots More Information
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
How Boolean Logic Works How Electronic Gates Work How Digital Clocks Work How Bits and Bytes Work How LEDs Work How LCDs Work
More Great Links
Parallax: BASIC Stamp Documentation Acroname: Interfacing a Sharp GP2D02 to a Basic Stamp II Dontronics: Basic Stamp Page PIC Links
Spread Spectrum Scene: PIC Stuff PIC Microprocessor Sites FAQs
Microcontroller FAQ BASIC Stamp FAQ 8051 microcontroller FAQ 68HC11 microcontroller FAQ Other
The 8052 Online Resource - lots of good information on the 8052 microcontroller Embedded Linux Journal
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