LaunchPad Development Kit Simplifies Debugging

Testing System for Microprocessor Apps includes example software and BoosterPacks

Texas Instruments has sponsored the following story


Simple Debugs with the LaunchPad

Developing and debugging your designs is often the biggest bottleneck keeping your electronic designs from the market. Without standardized testing hardware and software your development will slow to a crawl.

To help reduce the bottleneck, Texas Instruments (TI) has released an updated tool kit for software application developers, the MSP430FR5969 LaunchPad development kit.

The LaunchPad Development Kit Specifications
The LaunchPad development kit is an out-of-the-box system that allows engineers to develop, debug, and add microprocessor controlled applications to their designs. The kit can be connected to a host PC using the on-board eZ-FET hardware, so users can download new software. This standalone kit can also be connected to batteries or can operate for approximately 20 hours without external power, using an on-board high-capacitance power supply. The LaunchPad also has two LEDs and two buttons available for user support.

The MSP430FR5969 LaunchPad is based on the TI MSP430 microcontroller unit (MCU). The MSP430 uses a 16MHz system clock speed and contains 64Kb FRAM (Ferroelectric Random Access Memory) memory. FRAM is known for its low power consumption and rapid write access speeds. The microcontroller also uses a 16-bit RISC architecture and contains such features as timer blocks, analog-to-digital conversion, and external communications support via I2C, SPI or UART connections.

BoosterPacks expand LaunchPad’s Capabilities

The LaunchPad has additional features built into it to support application development. The board has a 20 pin standard interface which will allow specialty development equipment, referred to as BoosterPacks, to be installed on the board.

BoosterPacks cover a wide variety of applications and are available from TI and third party suppliers. Some typical BoosterPacks applications include:

  • Ultrasonic Sensors
  • Buzzers
  • Digital Displays
  • Motion Sensors
  • Sound Detectors
  • Light Sensors
  • Temperature/Humidity Sensors
  • Moisture Sensors
  • Rotary/Angle Sensors

One of the LaunchPad offerings is the 430BOOST-SHARP96 LCD BoosterPack. This add on enables the developer to visually demonstrate an application operation on a built in LCD screen.

TI’s Support Software Speeds Development Time

TI provides users with demonstrations and documentation to better understand the LaunchPad unit.

For instance, when the unit is connected to a PC the user can download software examples for the LaunchPad. Once the software is downloaded, users can test the LaunchPad using two operational modes.

The live temperature mode allows the LaunchPad to sense the temperature of the unit. The LaunchPad then sends the temperature data to the host PC. By using something as simple as a hair dryer, the user can verify that the unit is functioning correctly.

In the second operational test, the LaunchPad will cycle between sleeping and a logging mode. The system will wake up every five seconds, log the temperature and input voltage into the FRAM, and then return to sleep. When the system is reconnected to the host PC the logged data can be uploaded for review and verification.

Recently, TI started to provide LaunchPad software to monitor and measure the MCU power consumption. EnergyTrace++ enables the system to track both MCU and peripheral energy demands. To learn how to use this energy debugging tool, watch the video below:

If TI hasn’t created a software package you need for your design, then there are two free software development packages available: the Eclipsed-based Composer Studio and the IAR Embedded Workbench.

TI’s assistance doesn’t end with example software. As with much of their development tools, TI has included a large library to document their products. Perhaps the User Guide is a good place to start. It provides in-depth hardware descriptions, software examples, and a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). With TI’s support content, users can start working with the LaunchPad in no time.

Texas Instruments has sponsored promotion of their launch pad on ENGINEERING.com. They have no editorial input to this post – all opinions are mine. Ray Floyd