Propeller IDE Getting Started


Propeller IDE 0.30 is now available, it includes a new Loader called propman which is tweaked and ready to run with Propeller HAT by default. These instructions have been updated to reflect the new install process. Enjoy!

You can find out more about the new Propeller IDE here:


Learning to program isn't just about mastering a particular programming language and applying it in every situation. It's about learning the key concepts and applying them to a wealth of different situations in many languages.

The phrase "If you've only got a hammer, everything looks like a nail," springs to mind. Different circumstances often beg for, or even require, different programming languages.


The native language of the Parallax Propeller is SPIN. Spin is a little Pythonic in nature, it uses spaces and indentation as syntax.

It also borrows a lot of syntax quirks from other languages, and thus isn't going to be familiar from the get go. That's no problem, you'll master it in no time!

Propeller IDE

The weapon-of-choice software for writing Propeller SPIN is the Open-Source Propeller IDE. It runs on the Raspberry Pi pretty well, and we've made sure you can upload code right onto your Propeller HAT painlessly so you can get programming quickly and avoid the hassle of setting up.

The great thing about Propeller IDE, SPIN and the Propeller is that they're close-knit and unencumbered by the need to support lots of different processors. This makes compiling and uploading SPIN code absolutely lightning fast- Arduino users will be simply blown away.

First Steps

Installing Propeller IDE

As always, we've made it super-easy for you to get all the software you need with a nifty one-line installer. Just run:

curl | bash

This will install a fairly recent version of the Propeller IDE but if you'd like you can head over to and grab the latest version of Propeller IDE for the Raspberry Pi, which may be newer than the one installed by the one-line installer.

Propeller IDE download

It's easier if you grab the right URL, and use the wget command on your Raspberry Pi to download it. For example:


Once downloaded, you can install it with:

sudo dpkg -i propelleride-0.36.7-armhf.deb

Turning off the Serial Terminal so you can talk to Propeller HAT

By default, the Raspberry Pi fires up a serial console on /dev/ttyAMA0. This is handy for debugging headless, but if you're using Propeller IDE and programming a Propeller HAT then you've likely got a monitor plugged in anyway!

To cut a long story short, the serial console must be disabled so that we can communicate with Propeller HAT. Fortunately, the one-line installer you ran above should have already taken care of that but if you have trouble at any point in the future you can ensure the serial console isn't running by issueing the following (and rebooting):

curl | bash

Propman and OpenSpin

Propman is a smalll utility to which you can pass a binary to upload to the Propeller HAT. Propman defaults to using GPIO pin 17, pulled low, when built for the Raspberry Pi, so this is all we need to do. You're good to go!

Uploading code is as simple as:

sudo propman my-binary-file.binary

And to compile a SPIN file to a binary outside of the IDE, you can:

openspin my-spin-file.spin

What next?

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Propeller HAT
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Propeller HAT, Raspberry Pi, Micro-controller, Parallax Propeller

Phil Howard
Phil is Pimoroni's software guru, instantly recognisable by his somewhat pirate-themed moustache growing attempts. Usually found buried neck deep in Python libraries, he's also been known to escape on occasion and turn out crazy new products. If you need a helping hand, he's a prolific Twitter user and rampages around the forums like a T-Rex. Ask him if you need help with Pimoroni's software libraries, or Propeller HAT.