Signal processing module using Parallax's propeller chip

I have been thinking about a FPGA module for a while, a module that let’s you generate hard-real-time signals. The problem with FPGA is that they are very different from what this community typically know. I then decided to use the propeller chip from parallax. This chip has 8 micros inside, each running at 80Mhz. It does not have interrupts or peripherals! This lean design guarantees execution time so it is suited for real time applications.

I had this sitting on my desk for months as I was still not convinced programming in assembly will be very beneficial but then I learned that GCC compiler now supports the propeller chip and parallax has a nice simple IDE making it very simple.

So allow me to show off this awesome SigGen module. You can run it stand alone and use our USB-Serial SP module to program it, using Parallax’s propeller Simple IDE. But you can also use it as a coprocessor to your Gadgeteering Mainboards (even Medusa and Lynx). As a coprocessor it can be used for number crunching or for IO controlling at very determined time, like generating/reading VGA/video/audio signals.

This video shows audio and video generated from this propeller chip. Remember you can now control this from anything, even a $10 FEZ Medusa Mini!

In the image you can see the module and it includes plenty of IOs coming directly from the processor, VGA out, video out, audio out and video in.

The video in is great to do video-overlay then send it to video out. You will need this feature next time you Drive your Ferrari :slight_smile:



Nice! Bringe me right back to my C64 where i wrote my first ever code ;D

Yes this module can be a lot of fun, especially for those who love arcade style audio/video.

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Interesting module. Need to refresh my cog joggling skills. ;D

When can we try it ? :slight_smile:

Have extra time for one?

I can find some time for it sure!

Question is, even it’s quite trivial to control it from the MCU board - what does it take to program the FPGA?

From the few videos/tutorials I’ve seen on the net, there looks to be quite a learning curve here?

I’ve tried it before. It is not that hard. The spin language is similar to basic. You can load it to the propeller using serial port or read it from EEPROM. There is a learning curve, but it is not that bad.

@ danibjor - The propeller is not a FPGA, it is a multi-core processor, so programming it is much less intense than programming an FPGA.

Ok I am not sure I can refuse a request from our “Superhuman” :slight_smile: a module plus a nul modem is on t ay to you!

Note that you can connect USB Serial SP from your medusa kit to the null modem to SigGen module and then you can now program it directly from the parallax tools, SPIN or C.

The design is made to be 99.9% same as parallax’s original demo board so their examples will simply work with no changes. Google for “parallax propeller demo board schematic”

The video in circuit matches this so you should be able to use the same code as well :slight_smile:

Can’t wait to see what you will do with it.


Wow! That is awesome - thanks a lot!

And it was quick too! I am going to try it this weekend!


I think the demo is loaded on it. Plug in a VGA connector and power.

As soon as I get close enough to one tonight. ;D

Waiting on some parts to hook up keyboard and mouse.


@ Architect - That looks awesome. You just made a sale for GHI, when that module is available I am getting one.

That is the demo that it comes with. ;D

I am going to try to port Hydra (as in Parallax Hydra Kit) code for the module.

@ Architect - Well, I am still impressed. I thought the demo would be monochrome text only.

@ taylorza - you should check YouTube for, some videos on this chip. You will like it :slight_smile: