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Where to begin...What to buy


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Hey all,

I am a software engineering student working with an MSP430-based satellite kit at my job. I'm about one month in, having had no electrical engineering or embedded programming experience (except for a bit of experience with a SumoBot kit from Parallax) and am now thoroughly hooked on embedded programming.

 

I'm now deciding how to begin my playtime with embedded systems off the job. Arduino is obviously all the rage right now but I already know and use the MSP430 at work. My interest is in robotics, UAVs, and systems that DO THINGS or MOVE. Games are meh to me.

 

So the question is do I stick to the MSP430 or head elsewhere?

 

And if I should stick to the MSP430, will a $4 Launchpad with its minimal RAM be able to do things like a drone or robot? I've seen some projects, but not sure if it was necessary to upgrade the MCU to a higher model. I probably couldn't run Salvo on the launchpad but I'm not sure. I'll look into that.

 

And now for the part that qualifies this post for this category, can anyone point me to some other decent dev kits for the 430 that could handle what I have to throw at it.

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Welcome on board!

 

You will probably be right at home starting off with MSP430, especially if people around you already use it. I have no particular experience with robotics as such, but stick a ~$2 MSP430G2553 (currently the biggest MCU the LaunchPad supports) in the $4.30 LaunchPad, and you already have a pretty beefy setup to start with. At 6 bucks, you can't really go wrong :).

 

Olimex makes some nice starter kits at pretty reasonable prices, if kits are what tickle your fancy. However, the LP is all you need to interface with any MSP that supports being tackled with Spy-Bi-Wire (which is most of those you want, at least for starters), so if all else fails, you can just get an LP for programming, and any beefy MSP430 (where I believe even the bigger ones are under $10 or thereabouts) on a breakout board, and there you fly.

 

All in all, even in the very unlikely event of you realizing this is not your keg of beer, the whole experiment will have cost you about $20. Whether or not you are willing to risk this is up to you, but I don't think you can go too wrong.

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I/O might be one of your biggest limitations on the Launchpad (not memory). Same would apply to an Arduino UNO (though probably not the Mega). Thought there are certainly ways around that by interfacing other circuits.

 

Launchpad is $4.30, and as Gordon suggested - The MSP430G2553 is pretty cheap and will increase your flash to 16 KB. You can probably even get free samples sent from TI. If you find that you need a bit more I/O and still want to keep the price down part-way through the project, then you should be able to easily modify your code for the new FraunchPad:

 

http://focus.ti.com/docs/toolsw/folders ... r5739.html

 

They are currently $15 with half-off promo code that is noted on 430h's main page (I haven't heard that it's expired yet).

 

And if you think that you need even more memory and IO, then you are going to have to start looking at some other options. But you can program any Spy-By-Wire MSP430 with the Launchpad's emulator. You will reach a 16 KB limit with Code Composer Studio v.4 free edition and will need to use MSP430 GCC (as many of us do).

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I made my first circuit last night, and promptly made a "Glow box". That's what I'm calling it at least. I made a breadboard with 3 LED's flashing in sequence and put a paper box around them to diffract the light. Anyways, are you sure that you can use a G2553 on the Launchpad? TI website says it has 24 pins but the board only has 20 slots. It's also not in the table of compatible MCU's in the Launchpad manual. But I probably am missing something, no?

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I made my first circuit last night, and promptly made a "Glow box". That's what I'm calling it at least. I made a breadboard with 3 LED's flashing in sequence and put a paper box around them to diffract the light. Anyways, are you sure that you can use a G2553 on the Launchpad? TI website says it has 24 pins but the board only has 20 slots. It's also not in the table of compatible MCU's in the Launchpad manual. But I probably am missing something, no?

 

Yes. I personally have a 20-pin DIP G2553. You will lose a few IO over the 24 pin (or something along those lines). I think that it's only 16 GPIO.

 

Look on the product page at the pin/package types: http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/p ... g2553.html

 

Click "samples" and go the the 4th line (PDIP). Then click "Add to cart".

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Different pin patterns for the same chip, huh? More to learn I guess! Okay thanks to you guys!

 

Here's a pic of the first project my friend and I came up with. It's a LED Word Wand writing out "GO NERDS". Made from scratch with no code libraries :D Also made a motion-activated light show. Next up, robots! Thanks for getting me going.

post-3188-135135504591_thumb.jpg

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