Microcontroller With Interpreter and Extra Goodies

The BASIC Stamp is, at the heart, a microcontroller with interpreter software built in. These devices also come with additional support circuitry, such as an EEPROM, voltage regulator, ceramic oscillator, etc. BASIC Stamps are ideal for beginners because they are easy to program, quite powerful, and relatively cheap-a whole startup package costs around $150 dollars or so. These devices are also very popular among inventors and hobbyist, and you’ll find a lot of helpful literature, application notes, and fully tested projects on the Internet. The original stamp was introduced in 1993 by Parallax, Inc. It got its name from the fact that it resembled a postage stamp.

The early version of the BASIC Stamp was the REV D, while later improvements lead to the BASIC Stamp I (BSI) and to the BASIC Stamp II (BSII). Here we’ll focus mainly on the BSI and the BSII. Both the BSI and BSII have a specially tailored BASIC interpreter firmware built into the microelectronics EPROM. For both stamps, a PIC micro controller is used. The actual program that is to be run is stored in an on board EEPROM. When the battery is connected, stamps run the BASIC program in memory. Stamps can be reprogrammed at any time by temporarily connecting them to a PC running a simple host program. The new program is typed in, a key is hit, and the program is loaded into the stamp. Input/output pins can be connected with other digital devices such as sense switches, LED, LCD displays, servos, stepper motors, etc.


The BSII is a module that comes in a 28-pin DIL package. The brain of the BSII is the PIC16C57 micro controller that is permanently programmed with a PBASIC2 instruction set within its internal OTP-EPROM (one-time program ROM). When programming the BSII, you tell the PIC16C57 to store symbols, called tokens, in external EEPROM memory. When the program runs, the PIC16C57 retrieves tokens from memory, interprets them as PBASIC2 instructions, and carries out those instructions. The PIC16C57 can execute its internal program at a rate of 5 million machine instruction per second. However, each PBASIC2 instruction takes up many machine instructions, so the PBASIC2 executes more slowly, around 3000 to 4000 instructions per second.

The BSII comes with 16 I/O pins (P0-P15) that are available for general use by your programs. These pins can be interfaced with all modern 5-V logic, from TTL through CMOS (technically, they have characteristics like the 74HCT logic series). The direction of a pin-either input or output-is set during the programming phase. When a pin is set as an output pin, the BSII can send signal to other devices, like LEDs, servos, etc. When a pin is set as an input pin, it can receive signals from external devices, such as switches, photosensors, etc. Each I/O pin can source 20 mA and sink 25 mA. Pins P0-P7 and pins P8-P15, as groups, can each source a total of 40 and sink 50 mA.

2048-Byte EEPROM

The BSII’s PIC’s internal OTP-EPROM (one-time programmable read-only memory) is permanently programmed at the factory with Parallax’s firmware which turns this memory into a PBASIC2 interpreter chip. Because they are interpreters, the Stamp PICs have the entire PBASIC language permanently programmed into their internal program memory. This memory cannot be used to store your PBASIC2 program. Instead, the main program must be stored in the EEPROM (electrically erasable, programmable read-only memory).

This memory retains data without power and can be reprogrammed easily. At run time, the PBASIC2 program created on the host computer is loaded into the BSII’s EEPROM starting at the highest address (2047) and working downward. Most programs do not use the entire EEPROM, which means that PBASIC2 lets you store data in the unused lower portion of the EEPROM. Since programs are stored from the top of the memory downward, data are stored in the bottom of the memory working upward.

An Approach to Faster Than Light Communication Using Quantum Entanglement

Einstein spent the last 30 years of his life trying to perfect a Unified Field Theory. I myself found it extremely difficult to research the material for this article in a timely manner. The subject of time or space-time can be a riddle. As a former engineer I find it a fascinating subject. Faster than light (FTL) or “Superluminal Communication” as it is otherwise called, can be achieved by using Quantum Entanglement. There has been enough research by respected scientists to say that the effect of Quantum Entanglement is instantaneous across all distances. The instantaneous effect happens even across vast stretches of the universe. The above assertion is in agreement with one of the time worn principles of science, Occam’s Razor. The theoretical rule that states explanations should be the simplest, with as few assumptions as possible.

Faster than Light communication is needed because transit times for signals can become increasing long and communication is degraded over very large distances. A radio signal transmission to Mars can take 13 minutes (depending on the position of Mars in relation to earth). One can say hello to a Mars astronaut and will not receive an answer for 26 minutes (signal time to Mars and back). Quantum Entanglement can be described as an event happening in one location can arbitrarily effect an event in another location. This phenomenon has been called “spooky action at a distance”. Quantum entanglement has been observed and studied in relation to subatomic particles such as a photon. The spin (or angular momentum and orientation in its location) of the particle is described as either spin up or spin down. After measuring the spin of a particle the particle maintains its spin. If two entangled particles are measured in the same direction (no matter how far they are apart) their spins must be opposite. Either spin up or spin down. This effect maintains the angular momentum of the universe. It is not difficult to entangle subatomic particles. Entanglement can be achieved by having the particles in proximity to each other for a short time, for example splitting a beam of particles by an external force. This can create two beams of entangled particles such as photons.

I will attempt to explain the workings of a device to communicate using Quantum Entanglement. The concept of the device is to entangle a photon by having it interact with an electron of a material and take on the property of either spin up or spin down. The entangled photon beam will then be spit and sent to a transmitter and receiver. The transmitter and receiver will contain the circulating photons in a waveguide. The transmitter and receiver can then be moved apart for communication purposes. The transmitter will use a magnetic field to change the polarization of the contained photons by “Faraday Rotation”. A Faraday Rotation happens when light passes through a magnetic field in a material. The plane of polarization of the light or photon is rotated. This changing of the polarization will be reflected in the entangled receiver beam. By pulsing the magnetic field off and on a stream of 1’s and 0’s can be transmitted for communication purposes. A detector in the receiver will interpret the 1’s and o’s.

Granted this device is just the beginning, there a many arrangements to use Quantum Entanglement for communication purposes. I hope this article helps to initiate other ideas in this exciting field.