The BasicStamp family of microcontrollers is manufactured by Parallax. The BasicStamps contain a Microchip PIC microcontroller unit preloaded with a PBASIC interpreter program, a voltage regulator, and a flash memory unit. The benefits are the power and small size of the PIC controller, with the added benefits of extended memory and the PBASIC instruction language, which is easier to understand and use then the PIC assembly language.
About this Book
This book is written both as an introduction to PBASIC programming, but also to embedded programming in general. For a more in-depth look at embedded systems and embedded programming, see Embedded Systems.
Who is This Book For?
This book is for anybody interested in learning to program embedded systems. One of the primary uses of the BasicStamp, at least in terms of education, is robotics. Parallax sells a number of robotics kits that are based off the BasicStamp architecture. Beyond the use in robotics, there are a number of other areas where BasicStamps can be used with great success.
An accompanying course at Wikiversity, Introduction to Robotics will be using this textbook and the BasicStamp architecture to teach students about robotics.
What are the Prequisites?
Students should have a basis of understanding in elementary algebra. No prior programming experience is required. The use of and interpretation of graphs will also be a useful skill, but is not strictly required. A background in chemistry or physics where mathematics is used to model physical phenomina will also be helpful. The reader should be able to read and understand metric system units, and be able to make simple conversions between units. For instance, the reader should know that 1000 microseconds are in 1 millisecond.
What Will This Book Cover?
This book will attempt to look at the PBASIC programming language as it is used in practice: in an embedded application. Therefore, we will need to discuss certain things that aren't purely software, such as voltage and electric circuits, sensors and actuators, etc. We attempt to keep discussions on these subjects as simple as possible, so that the reader can use the concepts in their project, but don't get weighted down with complicated mathematical theory. We do, however, need to provide enough explanation of certain concepts that the reader can employ them safely and effectively.
Are There Any Aides for This Book?
There is a robotics course at Wikiversity that uses the BasicStamp and the PBASIC language to operate simple robots. That course uses this book as its primary text. If the reader is interested in robotics, and would also like some hands-on assignments to help demonstrate the concepts learned in this book, it is recommended that they also participate in the Wikiversity course. The course is located here:
Because of its focus on robotics, the Wikiversity course may present information in a slightly different order from the way it is present here, and it may also focus more or less of different topics.