|Product Performed to Expectations:||10|
|Specifications were sufficient to design with:||10|
|Demo Software was of good quality:||10|
|Product was easy to use:||10|
|Support materials were available:||10|
|The price to performance ratio was good:||10|
|TotalScore:||60 / 60|
A Beginners Guide to The TI MSP-EXP430FR5739 Experimenter Board
I have loved Electronics, since I was a kid. I learned how to fix my Transited Radio, (back in the 60's) by heating up the Cracked or Loose Solder Joints on it's Board, with my Weller Soldering Gun - Iron (inherited form my Dad). When my Radio or Walki Talki or Train Set Controller... Stopped Working or only worked intermittently. I figured this out, just by inspecting the Board and by moving and shaking it around a bit. If it made any noise. Then I figured that there must be something loose inside. So, as I did with everything... I took it apart to see what was inside:) Re-Soldering the joints, would usually make them work again. If you held it and your tongue just right, that is;) It was quite exciting to be able to fix my Beloved AM Transistor Radio and other toys, all by my self!:) Growing up I had a Reel to Reel Tape Recorder and a Realistic Cassette Recorder. Which I figured out how to Wire a Big Speaker to. By connecting it to the Speaker wires inside. Or by wiring up my own 1/8 inch male plug to go into the Head Phone Jack (if equipped). Don't do this with a 1950's TV that has a big Transformer wired up to the Speaker. That thing runs on 110V AC, Not Low Voltage DC!:O It Blew my Speaker in the Box that I made trying that!:O I still have those two 1950's TV's in the Garage:) Our first TV and my MaMa and PaPa's too (Mamaw and Papaw, ok... Grandma and Grandpa;). And I had some, now Antique, Tube Radios. That I took apart and Discarded later... Too bad I thought those things were worthless, back then!:O I wanted to go to school for Electronics. But in Junior High, someone (a teacher if I remember right) told me that I had to be Good at Math to do that!:( I was not, good at math and still am not, good at math. But, for the last 13 years I have worked with Computers, allot. I love to Install and Try out Linux Distros on Old and New PC's. My favorite Linux Distros are Fedora and Debian. Over the years, I've learned to trouble shoot hardware problems and build new Computers too (from kits of coarse). And I've really learned allot about Software. Both Windows and Linux. But, I'm not a Coder and Can't write Programs at all. So, I will have to learn to install the Free and Open Source Code that others have Shared on the Internet. And maybe learn to do a few changes for my purposes too. I have also worked with allot of Audio Video Gear over the past 35+ years. Mostly in the Operation and Installation Areas. I mixed for Concerts for 13 years. I installed Telco Equipment for a year in 2000. That was a good Paid Learning Adventure:) I did AC Electrical Trouble Shooting as a Maintenance Mechanic for Buildings. And I'm pretty good with DC wiring in Cars too. So now, with the coming up of Open Source Software, which I have been heavily into for the past 6 years. I've also discovered Open Source Hardware. And I am really wanting to learn about Micro Circuits and Prototype Boards. I read about these projects almost every day. I usually Post what I find on my Blog at, http://donsdeals.blogspot.com/, along with other things that I find interesting. I've seen many types of Proto Boards used in some very interesting Projects. From TI’s MSP430 Launchpad, STMicroelectronic’s Discovery, The BeagleBoard, to the ever popular Arduino. I'm in the research and discovery mode now. Figuring out What Development Board to would be best for me to learn with. So, this opportunity to try out and learn about the MSP-EXP430FR5739, has been a Great one for me!:) Thank you TI for giving out 100 MSP-EXP430FR5739 Experimenter Boards to all of us who applied on http://www.element14.com/community/roadTests/1030!:)
So, here's my beginners take on the TI MSP-EXP430FR5739 Experimenter Board. It has some very impressive and to me... futuristic features. Namely the FRAM Memory. The first thing I noticed on the box was the big orange letters, spelling FRAM. The first thing that came to my mind was. What's this Board got to do with FRAM Oil Filters??? I'm an old Car Guy;) And FRAM has pretty much the same Big Orange FRAM on their Boxes too. But, then after I did some... or well, allot of Searching and Reading on the TI Web Site and on Google too. I found out that FRAM is the new type of Memory that TI is using on the MSP-EXP430FR5739. I suppose it would be better pronounced F-Ram. But, FRAM is faster and easier to say. Here's the cool thing about FRAM and why I call it Futuristic. It's made from Crystal! "FRAM is crystal-based." You know... like in all of the Electronics and Space Ships on Stargate and Smallville and in the Original Super Man TV Series and the Movies:) Yep, the Future is here!:) Here's a bit of TI's info on FRAM...
* FRAM - Boldly going where no microchip has gone before.
* Welcome to the Microcontrollers Section of the TI E2E Support Community.
FRAM Technology Overview
Welcome to the future of embedded memory
As the world demands faster and higher performance in every application, new memory technology is needed to enable smarter solutions. FRAM from Texas Instruments provides unified memory with dynamic partitioning and memory access speeds 100 times faster than flash. FRAM is also capable of zero power state retention in all power modes, which means that writes are guaranteed, even in the event of a power loss. And with a write endurance of over 100 trillion cycles, EEPROM is no longer required. All of this is possible at less than 100μA/MHz active power consumption – a first for the semiconductor industry.
Benefits of embedded FRAM
* Ultra-Low-Power Read/Write
With Increased Throughput
* True Unified Memory –
Configurable as Flash or RAM
* Virtually Unlimited Write Endurance –
* Inherently Secure and
(That's Right! If you are planning on building that DIY Space Ship this year or you just need a Board for your Automated Electronics in your A-Bomb Shelter... The MSP-EXP430FR5739 is here Now! That's just me Don thinkin out loud, though;)
FRAM can write more than 100x faster than flash, while consuming less power!
* Test case
o CPU speed @ 8MHz
o Both memory options writing 512B memory blocks
* FRAM max throughput = 1400kB/s @ 730μA
* Flash max throughput = 12kB/s @ 2200μA
FRAM offers virtually unlimited write endurance of 1014 cycles – this is 10,000,000,000 times better than Flash!
* Test case
o CPU speed @ 8MHz
o Both memory options capped @ 12kB/s throughput (typical application)
* FRAM will last for 6.6x10^10 seconds
* Flash will last for 6.6 minutes
FRAM - Ultra-Low Power Read / Write
Summary: FRAM's increased write endurance enables 10,000,000,000x longer memory life cycles than Flash
FRAM - Inherently Secure and Radiation-resistant.
FRAM offers additional security and robustness compared to existing Flash and EEPROM technologies. Since FRAM is crystal-based, rather than charge-based, its Terrestrial Soft Error Rate is below detection limits and is not susceptible to radiation.
Additionally its ultra-low power requirements and high speed make FRAM data reads and writes virtually undetectable to unauthorized sniffing or data profiling. (Oh! Does this mean those guys at Hack5 soon wont be able to read your e-mail by sniffing your WiFi connection at the Coffee Shop any more? Don;)
Go to the TI Site and Read More on FRAM...
It was very easy for a beginner to try out the MSP-EXP430FR5739's On Board Demo (already on the Chip). All, you have to do is, Download the Demo Program Source Code and GUI Software (Windows only, not available for Linux yet). "Not Supported * MSP430 (Roadmap for support in a subsequent 5.1.x release) Read More about Linux Support here... http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/Linux_Host_Support. But, I still did about 2 hours of research before actually Plugging mine in to the USB on my old WinXP Box. I've been running Fedora and Debian Linux for the Past 6 years and hardly ever even Boot a Windows System. So, I really would like to see some Linux Support soon. I remembered all of the Head Aches that you can get into. If you don't install the Supporting Drivers and Software in the Right Order (first or last, after plugging in the USB Device, it depends on the Device). Now, here's my only Complaint so far. The TI Web Site is a menagerie of information. Not that allot of information is a bad thing. Not at all... But, it seems that every MSP430 Device that they make, has links on every Page about the MSP-EXP430FR5739 Experimenter Board. This makes it hard to sift through all of the links that don't pertain to the MSP-EXP430FR5739. It took allot more reading on the Site and then on Google, which often works better for me. I like to use Search Engines and I can usually find things faster on Google than by sifting through all of the info and links on a Site.
How TI can improve their Web Site?... This was a question on a Survey that they asked me to fill out after I wrote this Article... Well... Make it easier to find the specific information that I am looking for. Stop Duplicating irrelevant content on every page. Only have the info that has to do with what I am searching for in Search Results. Keep only links that pertain to the model of product that each page is about. For instance, only have links to MSP-EXP430 Software and Documentation and Forums on it's page. Not so many other Boards mixed in. This forces you to read to much extraneous info, just to find the Manual PDF or the Software Downloads.
(Back to the Original Article)...
I did find out that the older MSP430 Code will run on the MSP-EXP430FR5739 though, among other things, that I can't remember right now. But, what was I looking for??? The Manual, of Coarse! I cold only read the Enclosed Printed information with a Magnifying Glass and Glasses Combined. This is the case for most all Electronics or any kind of Documentation that you get with Products these days. So, the first thing I do, is look up the Manual and Download it. You can search the Document on the Computer and make the Text Bigger too. But, it took me about two hours to find enough info to feel ready to get started and Plug that thing in and press some buttons. Once I got my PDF Manual Open and my WinXP Machine up and running with the Drive and Software Downloaded to it. I was quickly on my way. Since, I'm a real beginner with Prototype Boards or anything besides a Computer Motherboard. I had no idea what all of the numbers and specs meant in the GUI App. But, I was very Pleasantly Surprised to find out the the MSP-EXP430FR5739 Experimenter Board Can Sense Temperature Changes and can Tell you if it, the Board it's self, is Level or Not. TI says it can be used in building a Battery Charging System too. Say, from Solar Panels or even Body Heat!:) The Potential Applications are Many!
Now the Software to Change or Build New Code. That is allot more involved... TI's License Schemes are the most confusing that I have ever seen!:O Go here to read about the TI Software Licenses... http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/Licensing_-_CCS#Subscription. And, I'm not use to having to deal with anything but Totally Free and open Source Software for the last 6 years too. Since that first day, when I got my MSP-EXP430FR5739 Board and spent about 4 hours total reading and researching on it. I have spent another two 4-6 Hour Days Reading and Researching on the Easiest Software to get started with. From TI and the on the availability of Open Source Software that will work for the MSP-EXP430FR5739. I did find some Open Source Software available here, http://mspgcc.sourceforge.net/. But it's all Command Line Stuff and I don't type accurately or remember commands all that well. So, I think that I will start with the TI (Free, but not fully functional) Code Composer Studio v5, CCS and the new Grace Plug-in...
IDEs including CCStudio. Go here to Read more and Download...
"Grace is a plug-in to Code Composer Studio that allows you as an MSP430 developer to generate the peripheral’s set up code within minutes. This will save you much of the work of poring through user guides and copying code examples and allow you to focus on the more important aspects of your application'... Go there to Read about Grace... http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/Grace_Quick_Start_Guide?DCMP=Grace&HQS=Other+OT+grace#Welcome.
Grace™, the graphical code generator for MSP430
That Video on the Grace Plug-in Sold me!:) So, I downloaded CCS v5, both the Linux and the Windows Versions. Though if I understand it right, the Linux version, wont do Builds for the MSP-EXP430FR5739 Boards or any MSP430's for that matter. I'm not completely sure about that. This new version might, but the date on the Wiki Page was 09-02-11. Read More about Linux Support here... http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/Linux_Host_Support. I installed CCS v5 on my Fedora 14 System and Opened it up. It is a bit slow. Since it has a built in Web Browser and Depends on Flash for some of it's features. Like Playing the intro Video. It never came in, after about 3 minutes of waiting. I just stopped it and went on to another section of the Software (And I have an 18mbps Internet Connection too). I tried it 3 times and I even Rebooted my Modem and Routers to make sure, that my Connection was working well. I will try it out in WinXP later. The Grace Plug-in only comes in a Windows .exe file anyway. So, I'll need to work in Windows...
There's a "Community" Page for the MSP-EXP430FR5739 and I did a Search for "MSP-EXP430FR5739" there. There's Plenty of activity there. So, that might be a good place to get help... http://e2e.ti.com/search/customsearchresults.aspx?q=MSP-EXP430FR5739&m=a&g=93
It comes with some extras. Three Connectors and a Micro Crystal. But I haven't figured out exactly how to use them yet. Here's the Page for the Micro Crystal in the kit.... "ROHS compliant, Leadfree Process Suitable. The MS-crystal is a square-bodied metal-can package with formed leads, intended for surface mounting and reflow soldering. The parts are supplied in tape and reel for easy pick and place mounting." Go there... http://www.microcrystal.com/Products/Quartz-Crystals/10---2100-kHz/SMD-Metal.aspx
Here's Some Training and info in the links below...
I started watching some interesting Videos here...
I found the element14.com Site via a Video by Jeri Ellsworth...
Jeri has 10 years of design experience in custom ASIC, FPGA, system level and mechanical design spaces, In addition to design work, she has extensive experience in production and pilot run failure analysis. She is well known for many of her popular electronic toys, SOC and video compression designs.
Go see her newest Video...
This guy is ok too... I guess;)...
Ben Heckendorn, star of the all new Ben Heck Show, sponsored exclusively by element14. Join Ben and his friends for bi-weekly episodes as they build and mod a host of amazing community-inspired electronics creations.
Go see his newest Video...
So, if you have more or even the same amount of Experience as me with Proto Boards. You might want to check this one out!:) I'm putting all of the links from my Research at the Bottom of this Post...
Don's Profile Page...
The MSP-EXP430FR5739 Experimenter Board is a development platform for the MSP430FR57xx devices. It supports this new generation of MSP430 microcontroller devices with integrated Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (FRAM). The board is compatible with many TI low-power RF wireless evaluation modules such as the CC2520EMK. The Experimenter Board helps designers quickly learn and develop using the new MSP430FR57xx MCUs, which provide the industry's lowest overall power consumption, fast data read /write and unbeatable memory endurance. The MSP-EXP430FR5739 Experimenter Board can help evaluate and drive development for data logging applications, energy harvesting, wireless sensing, automatic metering infrastructure (AMI) and many others.
The MSP430FR5739 device on the experimenter board can be powered and debugged via the integrated ezFET, or via TI Flash Emulation Tool, like the MSP-FET430UIF.
For demo program source code and GUI for the MSP-EXP430FR5739, click here.
I found an Online MSP430 Editor and Compiler, at...
This is an online MSP430 firmware editor. This means that you edit C-code within your web browser without having to install an IDE such as IAR or CCS on your computer. The files are compiled on our server and you download them from there. Using this tool to develop MSP430 firmware from within your browser is very simple, but does not offer as many advanced features as an expensive IDE.
Links from my Research. I checked them for Duplicates. Thought some names are the same, the URL's lead to a Different Page or Tab of the Page...
TI Texas Instruments eStore
Elemant14 RoadTest Pages