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Is it just me or tonight TI doubled LaunchPad price?

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I'm going to use this price increase as an excuse to find something better. I've long put up with all the warts on the msp430 because of the price. At $4.30 I felt like it needed a hand from the community to let it shine. At $9.99 you are just taking advantage of the work the rest of us have done for free.


Things I used to like about the msp430:


$4.30 with hardware debugger


Things that have bugged me from day one, that I put up with because the price was $4.30


o Lack of Linux or Mac support

o CCS v4 based on some ancient version of Eclipse and full of plugins that made it

dog slow and unreliable

o Size limited CCS

o Lack of launchpad CCS support on linux

o The tiusb3410 9600 baud limited linux nightmare of a usb -> serial interface

o lack of dip chips beyond 16k/512bytes

o Booster pack stupidity,

o Lack of standardization for the pin layouts.

o Couldn't even figure out some standard pins for SPI/I2C/UART

o Different chips use different pins for spi , uart , i2c

o Can't use i2c/spi and hw UART at the same time

o no 5 volt available from USB connection

o Spending all my time on these forums trying to explain why the Serial port doesn't work

o Wondering why they launched it with a 2k chip with no hardware UART when they were

trying to make it look like an Arduino and then being surprised when people bought them

and put them in a drawer until Energia emerged.

o Having to explain to people why an msp430g2231 really isn't the same as an atmega328

and how to get around the fact that there is no hardware uart so you have to juggle

to be able to send serial commands to a g2231 while running a servo code both using

the timer chip

o not enough ram on the chips to do useful things with sdcards or graphics displays

o msp430 chips get expensive in low quantities once you leave the value line

o msp430 chips don't really compete on a performance or price basis to ARM or PIC chips

other than with the value line chips. So you can waste a lot of time learning the architecture

only to find out that doing real world things with them is probably not the smartest


o It is actually very difficult to source msp430 chips. It took about 1 year after I got my

first msp430g2553 before I started seeing them available on http://octopart.com To be

honest, now I don't care I really want a dip chip version of a FRAM chip as that is

really the only useful msp430 chip.

o Confusing licensing schemes with regard to USB code and the msp430f5510. I decided to

not try and figure out the lawyerese and just use another usb solution after trying

to get an answer on e2e.ti.com


So did TI fix any of those problems? No, the community did.


How does TI repay the community ..


"Thanks, we got it. We'll take it from here. Oh, BTW the price is going up!"


your welcome!




You forgot one:


- TI's lack off an effort in truly contributing to MSPGCC and MSPDebug or its developers.  (By the way - I'd like to thank Peter Bigot, Daniel Beer, and everyone else who's worked on these projects with little help from TI).  This ties into the community doing all of the work, again, for projects like Energia to emerge.  Big thanks to the Energia developers as well!

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I'm a little afraid that I'll step into a big pile here, but I wanted to offer a couple of nuggets *please keep in mind that I usually only deal with University Partners, so I come from a slightly uni

You forgot one:   - TI's lack off an effort in truly contributing to MSPGCC and MSPDebug or its developers.  (By the way - I'd like to thank Peter Bigot, Daniel Beer, and everyone else who's worked

I'm going to use this price increase as an excuse to find something better. I've long put up with all the warts on the msp430 because of the price. At $4.30 I felt like it needed a hand from the commu

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I agree, at a price similar (or maybe even higher that) to that of the Cortex M boards (stm32F0 or KL53z) there is really no need to go into the lower segment, unless for production target ultra low power purposes (but there's the ez430 for that, right?)

I can't find a real justification for this price ration to freescale and ST.


To share my story too: I started out with AVR chips last century, I did some nice thing with it. However, when I learned to know the MSP430 architecture I started loving the elegant way that peripherals are mapped in memory. It's so much nicer than the OUT and IN commands I used back then. I still enjoy the way I can write code for the MSP430, but if I can run a RTOS with multithreading and do the same on an ARM core, why bother moving bits and bytes around (except low power)?


Yes!  ChibiOS/RT is awesome!  It works on virtually all STM32 Discovery boards with no effort, and it's very well-designed.  You can build, load, and debug it with opensource tools.  Now that the MSP430 Launchpad is to be priced similarly to ARM boards and we are on the subject of ARM as an alternate path from MSP430, I'd highly suggest that some of the folks here give it a shot.  http://www.chibios.org/

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Charge for shipping and exclude 2452.


exclude also the USB cable, design a slimmer and lighter package. if the shipping is excluded, offer cheaper options like snail mailing.. some of my LPs came from Singapore so i guess they keep stock there for APAC. We from Asia would definitely don't mind waiting for some time for the LPs.

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Sort of like ST discovery kits, right?

 Yes, that package should be lighter and sturdy enough for the purpose. There is nothing wrong with the current paper box, and honestly I prefer the paper box. But if a lighter package reduce cost (esp shipping), that will be great.

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design a slimmer and lighter package.

Without USB cable and 2331 you're basically left with the lauchpad with an 2452 in it, and headers and a crystal. Solder the crystal on, the headers too (oh, that's done with the 1.5 already) and plug the other headers on top of those.

Wrap the whole thing in the antistatic sealed foil and pop it in a bubblewrap envelope, together with some promotional stickers and the quickstart guide. Or leave the quickstart guide out and print an URL on the board or envelope.

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for those looking to snag a launchpad at the lower price (they sold out, now theyre at $10.00 also) Newark has 275 of them for sale at 4.35  I ordered 4 of them just, that will probably be christmas gifts.  I'm sad to see the 4.30 price point go, but a company cannot be expected to take a loss indefinitely, and I can't imagine that they can produce the board and stuff and ship it for less than 4.30 on their end (shipping alone was probably more)

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I'm a little afraid that I'll step into a big pile here, but I wanted to offer a couple of nuggets *please keep in mind that I usually only deal with University Partners, so I come from a slightly unique perspective. 


The LaunchPad has pretty much changed TI's place in the Microcontroller market and especially in Education. 
For me, I've been able to open up a lot of educational doors with the price point and what the kit could offer. However, the past year I've been watching it slow down a bit as the "4.30" on it's own isn't as compelling. The requests started to come in that I find ways to bundle the LaunchPad + Breadboard + Wires or , LaunchPad + BoosterPack combo or LaunchPad + Book + Training material... 

So, I went to look and see how I could get some of these requests fulfilled. 

Turns out--

The eStore can't do much than stock TI Standard kits, nor can they really bundle. 

DigiKey, Mouser, Newark -- have bundling options, but it's horrific to set these up, let alone have to manage the paperwork associated with the bill backs for services. 

I didn't even try with Arrow and Avnet because they weren't interested in anything that didn't generate serious money (e.g. Big Customers)...


So, I turned to some of the "hobby" distributors (e.g. Sparkfun, some local ones in India and Europe), went to a couple of conferences, met with some of the decision makers...

and asked them, "What can I do to get you to stock LaunchPads and offer "bundles" and trainings/services.?" All of them were interested, but when they saw that they would be buying the LaunchPad at the same price that TI was selling it for... backed out. 

There was absolutely no money in it for them. 

It costs money to inventory, stock, manage paperwork-- and time. (that's not even developing training and marketing) Sure, some universities would pay for value added services, but what was incentivising someone to buy from them (person providing the service)? Plus, the amount of effort + the pay out... for most of them wasn't worth it. 

I talked to no fewer than fifteen different educational distributors... and got a similar story. It started to become really clear that TI was indirectly competing against the same people that we needed to offer more/better services (at least in Education). 


To make sure I didn't give up on the 4.30 model... I tried a few things. (A little lengthy story, but I think this illustrates the best one)

I donated the entire LaunchPad inventory to a few of my partners (IEEE groups who were doing ebay purchases and bundles). 

Great for the first semester, but come re-order time-- I had run out of budget. 

So, the IEEE group had to switch and instead used the Arduino... and found students were willing to pay the 50.00 (when the previous was 24.00). 

When semester came around and I had budget, I called asked them if they wanted to try again... and they declined me. They would rather set up the store to not have to manually switch everything over just because I couldn't donate the kits!

So, I asked, how about buying them? I'll make sure that you can always purchase them at a discount, (which was almost nothing because $4.30 was pretty much rock bottom). 

Declined again-- with the Arduino the IEEE group was able to get them at 21.00 and reselling the boards for 30.00. That was 9.00 of extra margin they could use, if I wasn't giving them the LaunchPads free... all the time, there was absolutely no incentive for them to move over. (Insert "using Industry tools blah blah blah" argument, still couldn't switch them over). 


Granted, one IEEE group is NOT everyone else, but the concerns were similar. 
It showed me (at least in my space) that the only way I could push LaunchPad was through my program-- which is limited by my budget and what other things that I wanted to accomplish that year. The only way that I could grow LaunchPad in Education--> was increasing the level of service and offerings around LaunchPad--> which was beyond what TI could do on our own and  I could only accomplish by getting good partners-->and the only way to get good partners... was frankly-- help them make money. Successful Partner with LaunchPad meant Successful TI University Program. 


So, although it sucks right now, I really see this as a good idea-- for a long term strategy. 

We really could have done a much better job communicating the price change... it is never fun to find out on your own. 

There were always be TI Deals, half off coupons, Tech Day incentives.... heck, come visit me at any of my University visits, write a request, or our trade shows and you will be able to get a LaunchPads for free or a discount. We owe a lot to the community and want to continue to support it, but at the same time we're fairly realistic that a community is a lot more than just cheap hardware, that's what got us up and running and started, but now we really need to focus on enabling the very people that helped build it up-- enabling them to potentially create a business model around all the work that is being put in. Take a look at the Arduino, it was an open sourced hardware, intuitive user experience platform (the LaunchPad is also Open Hardware and now has Energia), but what really differentiates the Arduino from LaunchPad is the fact that people can make money by being part of the ecosystem-- through their own Hardware, Software contributions, Training, Bundling... etc. etc. 


I'm by no means the official LaunchPad communication channel,  but I'm a rather large constituent of it-- we're working hard on the next few steps we need to take on finding ways to grow -- and how honest, vocal and engaged everyone is critical for that (WE ARE Listening), so please keep letting us know what you think. 


Anyways, that's just my 2 cents... 


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Thank you Larissa!  I figured there was a long story behind it but I'm even more impressed that you were able to share it with us (corporate matters aren't always shareable as I know!)


My own thoughts in light of that are that TI's between a rock & a hard place, $10 for the LP sucks but the idea is other companies can sell it for $10 or $15 with extra value  Meanwhile TI doesn't have much else to toss in the existing box.


Perhaps the low-cost option could be bare PCB+headers+chips (solder-it-yourself) sold through the 43oh store for those who really need throwaway project boards... and it's not like you need 5 or 10 Spy-Bi-Wire emulators, just one that plugs into an existing v1.5 LP would suffice (my F5172 LP works that way).  I think the 43oh store does have some bare PCBs, just need the chips and headers bundled together into a single purchase... (but I don't know if it can touch the $4.30 price point either)


The price point of the ARM competition is still a valid point, but the complexity and legwork required to get those up and running makes the argument a little more "hot air" than anything else.  It just reinforces the point that the MSP430 LaunchPad is meant for educational purposes, not a high-powered bang for your buck solution.  Folks pay $30+ for Arduino after all.

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The issue is not that $10 is a bad price.  The issue is that $10 is not competitive with all of the ARM boards out there from ST, Freescale, etc.  Nor is it competitive with all of the open Arduino clones that have a much better set of tools and examples.  $4.30 is what sets it apart from the competition.  It's not Code Composer Studio, nor is it the Launchpad "ecosystem".  It's that for the price of a burger and fries (with a Coke), you can stick an MSP430 board in any project and forget about it.  TI really needn't invest in more booster packs because this community already makes some awesome booster packs.  Unless, of course, TI wants to make a $10 Ethernet board and drop the price of that new WiFi booster pack.  But I don't see that ever happening.


I agree somewhat, but not completely. the $4.30 price is a big sellign point for many hobbyists, I would agree, but past that, the open community( people with no relation to TI ), is what has helped this platform take off. Now, that they've had the "rug pulled out from under them" . . . who knows how these people are going to feel. The only person I can speak for is myself, and I am not exactly happy.


That is to say, not my own personal feelings about the price, so much as how the open community as a whole feels about it. If these key people who have done a lot of hard work for things such as Energia, and the GNU GCC compiler for MSP430 leave. Why would I want to stick around ?


No one wants to be part of a dead community.

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Larissa - I appreciate that you've been very open about what's going on.  If raising the price leads to people buying kits from partners (sparkfun, adafruit, etc.) - then I think it would be great.  Especially if that takes them into building booster packs.  If it leads to a bigger community - that would be great.  Hopefully TI knows what they're doing and has looked at all the angles...

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Larissa, thank you very much for taking the time to let us all know what is going on. I *think* I've seen some of your youtube videos describing pretty much what you've said here in text.


Mainly what sticks out in my mind, was male versus female pin headers . . which personally I thought was *very* silly. Not  the fact that you were trying to correct this issue with the community, but the fact that people can not figure out how to make these connections themselves. Or better yet, use the pins as intended, and design an inexpensive breakout card ?! Yeah . . .ok enough said :)

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I bought up majorly back at $4.30.  Not as an investment, just knowing that was as good as things get and might be ephemeral, so bought about 40 of them.  That low price always felt subsidised and temporary to me.  Personally I agree with others that slower and combined shipping options would be a better way to control costs.


In slightly more general areas, I worry for TI.  I was following the OMAP 5 saga only to watch them effectively abandon the tablet/high end MCU market.  The lucrative handheld calculator sector is also being decimated by tablets and computers.  I highly doubt graphical calculators will survive a further 2-3 generations.  TI are too big a name to simply disappear, but they are being rapidly marginalized in the consumer electronic space and the embedded market is tightening already low margins.

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