What is a BASIC Stamp
A BASIC Stamp microcontroller is a single-board computer that runs the
PBASIC language interpreter in it's microcontroller. The developer's code is
stored in an EEPROM, which can also be used for data storage. The PBASIC
language has easy-to-use commands for basic I/O, like turning devices on or off,
interfacing with sensors, etc. More advanced commands let the BASIC Stamp module
interface with other integrated circuits, communicate with each other, and
operate in networks.
The Stamp is a
complete BASIC programmable computer mounted on a 14 pin SIP package.
Programs are written in a variation of BASIC called PBASIC on your PC and
are then downloaded to the Stamp with a single keystroke via the PC's
parallel port. On finding the program doesn't work as intended, simply
modify the BASIC program and again download. Once satisfied, disconnect the
parallel port interface and you have a working circuit. Power it up and it
does its thing.
There is no
steep learning curve. I had never used the Stamp and assigned two
undergraduate students to look at it. Within the day, they had developed an
arrangement with eight LEDs that flashed with all kinds of patterns and
another which controlled a stepping motor. Within three weeks, I had 26
students controlling bar graph displays via a shift register, acquiring data
using an ADC0832, sending serial data to a PC and interfacing with serial
EEPROM. Several students went on to also interface with an LCD panel, a
Vector 2X compass module and a 200 mV panel meter. Both the students and
myself were very excited.
"Peter H. Anderson, Dept of Electrical Engineering, Morgan State University,
Baltimore, MD 21239"
It's a small
single board computer that runs BASIC programs. At first glance the STAMP may
seem fairly minimal and in fact, it is. But with software that fully utilizes
all available hardware, the stamp gives you powerful features without the cost
of hardware. It is low cost and simplicity make the stamp perfect for many
prototyping and control applications.
The hardware is comprised of two main components. The brain of the stamp is
comprised of two main components. The brain of the stamp is an 18 pin BASIC
interpreter chip. A 256 byte EEPROM holds a tokenized version of your program,
which is read and executed by the interpreter. The remainder of the stamp's 1.5
by 2.5 inch circuit board is taken up by a 4 MHZ resonator, 5 volt regulator,
and a 9 volt battery clip. Also included is a small prototype area, which
provides space for additional components and connection points for the stamp's 8
I/O lines, 5 volt supply, unregulated supply, and ground.
The stamp is programmed in our simple BASIC language. The language includes
familiar instructions, such as GOTO, FOR...NEXT, and IF...THEN, as well as SBC
instructions such as SERIN (serial input) PWM, and BUTTON. Each instruction
takes 2-3 bytes of EEPROM space, resulting in a maximum program size of 80-100
instructions. Programs are executed at the rate of about 2000 instructions per
To write software for the stamp, you'll need the Programming package. The
package contains our editor software, programming cable, manual, application
notes, and access to free technical support. The cable connects the stamp to
your PC parallel port for programming and debugging.