MSP430 Experimenters Board

Sept. 12, 2007
Looking for a flexible MSP430 development platform. Check out the Texas Instrument’s MSP430 Experimenters Board with Technology Editor Bill Wong.

Texas Instrument’s (TI) $99 MSP430 Experimenters Board provides a flexible, low cost development platform. It is based on the MSP430F2013 and a MSP430FG4618. The F2013 has 2Kbytes flash, 128 bytes RAM, a 16-Bit Sigma-Delta ADC and a serial port that handles SPI and I2C. The G4618 has 116Kbytes flash, 8Kbyte RAM, a 12-Bit ADC, dual 12-bit DACs, on-chip DMA, 3 op amps and support for a 160 segment LCD. The latter handles the on-board LCD display. The chip also has a serial port with SPI and I2C support. The 80 GPIO pins are multiplexed with other peripherals. The op amps can be daisy chained into an active first order high pass filter (HPF). The board can run from USB power or off AAA batteries. Flash programming requires a TI Flash Emulation Tool, like the MSP-FET430FUIF. Separate headers are provided for each processor. The MSP430FG4618 uses standard 4-wire JTAG while the other uses 2-wire Spy-Bi-Wire used with the eZ430 kit. The platform can be used for wireless applications plugging into a wireless module like the CC2420EM 802.15.4/ZigBee or CC2500EM SmartRF. A pair of either runs more than the Experimenters board but less than some of the wireless kits available. The board comes with a copy of IAR’s Embedded Workbench with a 4Kbyte memory limit. It also comes with a copy of Texas Instrument’s Code Composer Essentials. The latter is based on the open source Eclipse project. So why have two different microcontrollers on the board? The higher end G4618 handles the majority of peripherals including the LCD display, audio output, a microphone input, a buzzer, RS-232 serial port, some LEDS, two on-board buttons and the wireless interface socket. It uses an I2C interface to communicate with the F2013 that handles the capacitive touch pad. That cute 4 in the logo on the main board is actually the touch pad. Headers provide access to interfaces and jumpers control the interconnections. Most developers will likely work with the G4618 and leave the F2013 as is. Source code for both demo applications is available. The IAR software can be used to reflash the chips if necessary. Most of the documentation follows the IAR software. This platform can address higher end applications that the eZ430 cannot but it does require the JTAG programmer and it is a bit more expensive. Still, it is not bad for a development platform for the MSP430. The option to go wireless will appeal to many. Apps notes address the details for this option. Related Links IAR Texas Instruments

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