A few years ago, I first heard about an Unofficial Propeller Expo which was to be held a few hours drive away from my hometown. I had never heard about the Propeller, which turned out to be a souped-up microcontroller, but the idea of a get-together to discuss electronic things grabbed my attention. Well, I decided that I was going to go to this thing; it was great!
The Propeller microcontroller is an 8-core (yes, there are a full 8 computers in that chip) controller which runs at 80MHz! This is some pretty impressive stuff to a guy who got started with a 1950’s mainframe, that took up a large room and I actually troubleshot and repaired flip-flops and individual gates. I had some experience with some of the smaller AVRs and with the BASIC Stamp I (turns out that the Propeller is manufactured by Parallax, the same people who created the BS-I.)
So, anyway, while surfing for material about my favorite subject, I ran across the Propeller Forum (http://forums.parallax.com/forum.php) and a post by Jeff (Old Bit Collector.) He was talking about how he started the expo as a way for a few people to get together to discuss cool things that they had done with the Propeller. After posting a notice for people near his home town in Ohio, the thing kinda got away from him and he had nearly a hundred people show up! I came in a short time before the second Unofficial Propeller Expo in Ohio and was able to make it – I have not missed one (at least in Ohio) since then – and I actually made it to Chicago once (hope to make the Chicago expos more in the future.)
Prior to going to this expo, I decided that I needed to get to know about the Propeller, so I ordered one and read up on it. I perused the forums and read everything that I could find about that chip. At the expo, I actually got one of the Propeller Protoboard development systems (http://www.parallax.com/Store/Microcontrollers/PropellerDevelopmentBoards/tabid/514/CategoryID/73/List/0/SortField/0/catpageindex/2/Level/a/ProductID/423/Default.aspx) and got a chance to play with it – I was right, this is a really cool product. Since then, I have gotten several more Propeller Products, taught an Intro course at one of the Expos and have developed a few products for the Prop. I am now finishing up an Intro Textbook and parts kit, which I hope to take with me to sell at the expo.
If you live near Ohio and are able to attend (http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?141203-NE-PROPELLERHEADS-UPENE-August-25th-2012-REGISTRATION-OPEN), you will not regret it. There are also annual UPEs in the Chicago area and in Rocklin, California, the home of Parallax. It also looks like some expos may be starting up in Australia, Europe and maybe Japan (or maybe elsewhere in Asia.)
Hope to see you there.
(By the way – more pictures will be coming soon)