There is a lot of information about the Scribbler 3 on Parallax’s website ( parallax.com), and loads of tutorials and projects for it on the Parallax Learn website ( learn.parallax.com).
For this article, I am going to talk about its graphing
capability using BlocklyProp to program it and also how to
jazz it up with light.
Propeller and BlocklyProp
I am not a very good programmer. I have played with
many different microcontrollers and languages, but never
got to the point of proficiency in any one of them. Basic
and C is where most of my knowledge is, but I’m not very
good at them either.
I can usually accomplish almost any project over time,
but I must literally program a piece of it, test it, research
what is in the books, look on the Internet for what others
have done, and rewrite and retest every line and function
until I finally get it right, or close to right.
My biggest programming skill is a determination to
finish a project no matter how long it takes. A well-known
roboticist, Red Whittaker, said it best, “In the birthing of
any machine, there is that moment when it actually works.
It is always fresh and astounding for me.”
When the Parallax Propeller first came out, it had its
own language called SPIN. I hesitated to do much with it
because I did not want to have to try and learn all the ins
and outs of another language.
I knew it would be a better platform for a lot of
robotics because of its multicore feature. I did do several
projects in SPIN, but tended to go with what I was better
at (which was C).
Now, Parallax has introduced a new graphic based
programming environment called BlocklyProp for the
Propeller boards and I have fallen in love with it! It is fun,
intuitive, and has power.
BlocklyProp makes programming the Propeller simple,
and it is easy to see what you are doing in a very logical
way without all the hassles of syntax errors. It is based on
the C language and you can switch to a screen which
shows you the background C code if you want to see it.
Using the Propeller’s multicore feature is made very
easy with BlocklyProp, and it uses the same structure and
functions as C without having to count brackets or
There are premade blocks for different sensors and
functions which also makes the programming easier. Plus,
Parallax is introducing new blocks all the time.
Of course — as with all Parallax products — there are
many tutorials and projects on their Learn website as I
I enjoy this new language so much I converted several
of my robots to Propeller boards and a couple to Parallax’s
new chip called the FLiP. One of the really nice things is
BlocklyProp is backwards compatible to the older Propellers
In the rest of this article, I will show the code I used to
make these designs so you can see how easy it is to use.
By Carol Lynn Hazlett
SERVO 09.2017 51
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