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Development kit terminology (newbie question)


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Hi all,

 

I did a school/hobby project about 12 years ago with a PIC chip and it was a blast. I recently got a MSP-EXP430G2 LaunchPad kit to try to get back into things. I'm curious about some of the terminology.

 

I'm unclear about the differences between:

  • Debugger
  • Programmer
  • FET
  • "Breakout board"
  • Anything else that refers to these little PCB kits with a micro-controller in them.

Also:

  • Evaluation kit
  • Experimenter board
  • Starter kit
  • (guessing those are all about the same?)

 

I notice that the chip on the new MSP430F5529 is not removable. That seems really lame. I guess that means you cannot easily use that board as a programmer, then transplant the chip into your own circuit. Apparently the board I got can be used that way, which I'm happy about.  I intend my project to be smaller than the LaunchPad board.

 

If someone could set me straight on the terminology it'd be great. Thanks!

 

- JVimes

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The F5529 launchpad is demonstrating the way of the future...

 

It's just expensive I'm guessing to produce a package that's removable that also happens to have 80 pins.  For a microcontroller, it's impractical too.  These things don't get swapped around much "in the real world".

 

The F5529 launchpad works fabulously as a programmer of external circuits.  Incorporate the chip (or any other MSP430 for that matter) into your final board, and use jumper wires to attach the necessary FET pins on the F5529 launchpad to your target board (note they all have jumpers/shunts so you can disconnect the FET/debugger from the F5529 chip itself and use the FET to program other boards).

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debugger/programmer/fet all refer to the same thing, though the fet is a specific model/family.

booster (pack)/shield/add-on board/expansion board all refer to the same concept, verify that your pack/board is "launchpad compatible"

a breakout board refers to a chip that's so difficult to handle for experiments that a simple board has been designed around them to ease said experiments.

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  • Debugger
  • Programmer
  • FET

These are quite interconnected in the MSP Launchpad world. A Debugger allows you to debug your code, through changing memory values and breakpoints. A Programmer allows you to program the chip using usb on one side, and SpyBiWire/Jtag on the other (a protocol adaptor). A FET, Flash Emulation Tool, allows a microcontroller to run code on memory outside of it's own memory, through the debugger/programmer setup.

 

 

  • "Breakout board"
  • Anything else that refers to these little PCB kits with a micro-controller in them.
Also:
  • Evaluation kit
  • Experimenter board
  • Starter kit
  • (guessing those are all about the same?)

 

A breakout board is often a blank pcb that an IC can be soldered to, changing it's package from one form to another, with all pins broken out. You find these for SMD chips alot. Sometimes it comes with the smd chip used, and sometimes has some needed parts, like a regulator or passive components.

 

Evaluation Kit is a board or module designed to show off the features of a chip. An experimenter board is really just marketing, or targeted to a education crowd [look at the neat things you can do] ( vs business crowd [look at the useful/purposeful things you can do]). A starter kit is a set of parts put together as a "these will get you started" method. A development board is a combination of an evaluation kit and experimenter board, targeted towards implementing final products.

 

I notice that the chip on the new MSP430F5529 is not removable. That seems really lame. I guess that means you cannot easily use that board as a programmer, then transplant the chip into your own circuit.

The reason for that is that the F5529 is a high pin count thin/small smd chip, not a giant through hole chip. Its not practical for most experimenter/evaluation boards to have removable smd chips, and boards that do have sockets for those high pin count smd parts are expensive, because the sockets are expensive. BUT that does not mean you can't use the F5529 board to program other f5529s. They have jumpers that can be removed, and using a cable, can be connected to your own pcbs or break out boards, for in circuit programming.
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smd is not as fun to prototype with for sure. 

Once you get used to it, it becomes preferable.  It's a lot easier to remove/swap an 0402 or 0603 component than it is to remove/swap larger components, and especially easier than dealing with through holes.  I'd say the same is mostly true for IC packages, to a point.

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Once you get used to it, it becomes preferable.  It's a lot easier to remove/swap an 0402 or 0603 component than it is to remove/swap larger components, and especially easier than dealing with through holes.  I'd say the same is mostly true for IC packages, to a point.

compared to thruhole and a breadboard im not so sure.

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compared to thruhole and a breadboard im not so sure.

I know where you're coming from, but -- with a good iron, a binocular microscope, and practice -- operating directly on SMD is faster and much more rugged.  I always find myself having to repair breadboard wiring harnesses, and usually there is a few minutes of WTF before I realize the wire is broken.

 

Anyway, it's not really a big issue, but for under US$1000 you can get all the equipment you need to move away from breadboards.  If the cost is a problem, then don't do it.  I won't be troubled if I'm the only person who prototypes directly on SMD (although I know I'm not)  :)

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Hi everyone. I am also new to the MSP430 and have few questions related to this topic.

(I have an engineering background and quite faimilar with coding and HW, but the last time I did micro work was >10yrs ago).

 

I've got a MSP-EXP430G2 Launchpad and installed  the CCS. I can blink LEDs and do other simple stuff.

I am a bit confused on the Launchpad functionality though -

1. What exactly happens when I run debug (F11) in CCS ? Does the program run on the socketed device or in the emulator part ?

2. Does run->debug actually program the flash memory on the socketed device ?

2.a If "no" can I use the CCS+Launchpad to flash the socketed device when finished debugging (and use it outside of the launcpad) ?

2.b If "yes" how can avoid flashing the device every time I debug something ?

 

I apologise for dummy (and possibly repeated) questions. If you can point me to the a relevant thread or a TI document I would much appreciate the help !

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I, too, would like to know the answers to @@vladn's questions. Just trying it out, I'm pretty sure my chip gets programmed each time I run/debug. But I always wondered how much work the emulator does. I'm guessing it's job is in line with the FET (Flash Emulation Tool) description in @@cde's post, above(?). I think I read the emulator allows debugging without running extra debugging code through the chip itself (I'm assuming it's still processing normal code on the chip), to get true behavior -- but I could be making that up. Thanks everyone! These answers really help me organize my thoughts and dig in.  :smile: 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I notice that the chip on the new MSP430F5529 is not removable. That seems really lame. I guess that means you cannot easily use that board as a programmer, then transplant the chip into your own circuit.

You can by an MSP-TS430PN80USB - MSP43055xx USB 80-Pin Target board which is suitable for that. See at: https://estore.ti.com/MSP-TS430PN80USB-MSP43055xx-USB-80-Pin-Target-board-P1631.aspx

 
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