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Frequently Asked Questions

We have collected the most commonly asked questions over the years into this digest. If, after looking through this list your your questions are not answered, feel free to email technical support. You may also want to browse for answers to your questions in our customer forum. The forum was added as an area for customers to discuss projects. It collects and contains information on a variety of material.

Question: What do I need to get started?

Answer: You will need a development kit and a TICkit device.

The development kit includes the software necessary for your PC to compile and download programs and a download cable (Note: You will have to make your own cable if you use the trial version software).

You may elect to buy a TICkit module which includes the EEprom, crystal, and interpreter on a 40pin DIP package or only a TICkit interpreter IC. We strongly suggest you initially purchase an assembled unit simply to get started with fewer chances of silly mistakes. Everything you need can be purchased in one of our Getting Started Packages (GSP), which includes a few components for simple projects.

Question: How large of a program can I put into a TICkit?  

Answer: 64K worth of Tokens.

A TICkit 83/84 allows you to store up to 7K of tokens inside the TICkit IC itself. If you need larger program or data space, you can add 24LC256 or 24LC512 EEproms. Although you can have 256K or 512K bytes of external EEprom, only 64K of this can be used for program tokens. The rest can be used for data or for audio playback files.

Question: How may program tokens are used per line of FBasic?  

Answer: Varies between 1 and 25

A simple function which does only one thing with no variable can take a single token, like the EXIT directive. However, every function call on a line involves at least one token to specify the function (three if the called function is written in FBasic).

Each parameter and return value require one token.  Any literal values that are used require tokens to store them. There is often stack cleanup that needs to take place, requiring a few tokens as well. So, a normal sized mathematics line with several function calls and some parameters typically uses about 10 to 20 tokens.

Question: How does a TICkit compare to the BASIC STAMP products?  

Answer: The TICkit 83/84  is without a doubt a more powerful unit, with very few exceptions. 

The TICkit offers:

  •  more RAM (112 bytes variable space, 96 bytes stack space, 32 bytes scratch pad space)

  •  more EEprom (512K available in TICkit)

  •  is faster, ranging between 40-10,000%  (see next question for clarification)

  •  more sophisticated programming language (combines simplicity of Basic with structural capabilities of  C)

  •  performs 32bit signed math

  •  performs 32 bit floating point math

  •  more powerful programming tools (symbolic run-time debugging)

  •  KEY: the ability to write assembly language routines of your own

  •  KEY: multi-threading capability

  •  KEY: interrupt processing capability

  •  KEY: internal token fetching


The TICkit 83/84 includes many built in hardware capabilities, giving the user the ability to do things in background.


The STAMP is simpler by the fact that PBASIC is a more familiar language and less complicated to learn. The STAMP II also has some library capabilities that the TICkit does not include. Please review the stamp comparison document for a detailed list of comparisons. 

Question: Does the RSB509 serial buffer allow the STAMP to receive serial information in background?

Answer: YES! 

The RSB509 can receive up to 32 bytes of serial data before it requires its STAMP host to do anything with it. The RSB509 can only send bytes one at a time, so this limits the options of the SERIN statement, though. The RSB6505 has a line oriented mode which can work in conjunction with the STAMP SERIN statement.

Question: What is the difference between the RSB509B and the RSB509Cx?  

Answer: Handling of baud rate.

The RSB509C handles packed bursts of 9600 baud better than the 509B.  Also, the 509C is mono-wire compliant which means that it can share an interface line with another mono-wire device. The 509B and 509C are programmed the same except that the address byte must always be sent for the 509B. The 509C only requires the address byte when an addressed packet mode is used.

Web Site Updated: 01/17/2009