We stand by our products. If you have any difficulty with a Stache, please call us so that we can help you resolve it and improve the product.
Parallax made major changes in the way that the IDE, STAMPW.EXE, identifies stamps that may be attached to the PC com ports. This allows the IDE to give better messages about the kind of stamp that is present in relation to the declarations in the program that is currently active in the programming environment. However, this new identification procedure caused huge problems for the early Stache firmware. The Stache is able to mimic any of the Stamps, so we had to work with Parallax to resolve the order in which the identification tests are made. Also, each new Stamp has an identification code, and possibly revision codes, so we have to upgrade the Stache to recognize those new codes. Finally, the new IDE demanded much tighter timing, as new tests did not necessarily follow the strict by the letter protocol that had been followed in the early IDE. The new IDE can interrupt one identification in progress and start another immediately. This required that we tighten up the Stache timing and respond to interrupts quickly while at the same time taking care of "housekeeping" inside the Stache directory.
The upshot of this is that for use with the new IDE, we recommend that you upgrade to the latest version of the Stache firmware.
The latest version is 1.7. Upgrade policy here. This supports the BS2pe and version 1.33 of the IDE and the object loader, and (we hope!) the output produced by the newly released tokenizer DLL. Version 1.7 is tolerant of future minor Stamp version upgrades. This also continues to work with the plain DOS programming environment.
Version 1.6 supports the BS2p, but not the BS2pe.
Version 1.5 was a first attempt to deal with the new version 1.2 STAMPW.EXE. Due to timing problems, it has problems on some computers and especially with the multibank stamps. Should be upgraded to version 1.7
Version 1.4 works great with version 1.1 of the Stamp IDE and supports the BS2P in that environment. However, if you want to use the latest version 1.33 of the Stamp IDE, you should upgrade to version 1.7 of the Stache firmware.
Version 1.0 was the original public release. It works fine with the version 1.1 IDE, STAMPW.EXE, as well as the DOS programming utilities for the individual Stamp chips. Version 1.0 does support the BS2sx and the BS2e, but not the BS2p.
It is true that the Stache/Stamp connection will not be able to drive very long cables. We do not have an exact figure for how long is too long. We have had no trouble using a 4 foot long cable to our OWL data loggers. We have had one report of difficulty programming a BASIC Stamp that was made from OEM parts.
Both the Stamp and the Stache use pirate power scheme that pulls the data lines actively high, but relies on a pulldown resistor to bring the line to its low level. It is this response that will be too slow on a long cable, and may not be strong enough to drive an OEM BASIC Stamp.
To resolve this problem, install a ~1kohm resistor from pins 3 to pin 5 of the DB9 connector on the Stache.
Version 1.4 of the Stache firmware increase the length of the DTR reset pulse to 1 millisecond, which helps to resolve problems on longer cables.
A few Staches have exhibited a problem, wherein they occasionally refuse to accept a new program from the PC. They act as if they have accepted the new program, but they actually hold on to the old program. This problem occurs when you detach the battery from the Stache for a few seconds to minutes, and then reattach it and attempt to download a new program. The cause has to do with the brownout and reset circuitry in the SX18 microcontroller.
As a fix, either attach the Stamp to the PC download cable before you attach the battery, or depress the reset button for 5 full seconds before you attach the battery. Either method will discharge internal capacitors and reinitialize the chip.
If you discover that you have such a Stache, you can return it to EME Systems for a free fix.
Version 1.4 of the Stache hardware/firmware resolves this problem.
BASIC Stamp software transmits only those 16-byte blocks of data to the stamp that contain defined program or DATA. Version 1.4 of the Stache firmware allocates memory in the same way, in 16 byte blocks, so short programs upload very fast, and unallocated data space in the stamp memory map remains untouched. Versions of the Stache firmware earlier than 1.4 the Stache always transmited 2kbytes per program, and filled the unused blocks with zeros. If this is important to you, please return your Stache for a free upgrade.