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Review of Texas Instruments 430Boost-CC110L BoosterPack featuring Anaren Integrated Radio (AIR) modules

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 8
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 8
Product was easy to use: 8
Support materials were available: 10
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 54 / 60
  • RoadTest: Texas Instruments 430Boost-CC110L BoosterPack featuring Anaren Integrated Radio (AIR) modules
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Independent Products
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: One of the G2553 chips was faulty!

  • Detailed Review:

    First of all I would like to thank Texas Instruments and Element14 for providing the review sample.

     

     

     

    Overview & unboxing

     

     

     

    Review samples came in 3 boxes, 2 MSP430 Launchpads rev. 1.5 and one box with Anaren CC110L Air modules.

    All the necessary items are included with the units, 32 kHz crystals, USB cables, headers, etc. Note that Launchpad 1.5 comes with the male header soldered. It is also worth noting that CC110L box came with 2 cross-jumpers to allow easy setup on Launchpad rev. 1.4 and earlier, due to the routing of HW UART lines. It was a nice surprise since the manual says “not included”J

    Although the manual says that CC110L comes with the preprogrammed MSP430G2553 chips, there were none in the box, but there is molding for them in the plastic case housing the Air modules?

    Luckily, Launchpad 1.5 comes with G2553 installed and G2452 in the plastic bag.

     

     

    Usage

     

     

    By now I should have realized that the manual is a little off from the real state of things...

    Following the steps I plugged in the Air modules, installed the ATC Booster application and... nothing. No communication. After an hour or two spent on trying it on other computers I realized that the chips are NOT preprogrammed with the Air booster firmware!

    So I fired up the CCS, compiled the fw that was on the cd, and programmed both chips. Trying out the Launchpad S2 button presses as indicated in the manual, everything was working fine.

    Connect both launchpad to computers, and again nothing? After another hour or two spent trying out various things, I realized that one Launchad is working fine locally and another one is not. After a few swaps , by method of elimination, I have concluded that one of the G2553s is not functioning properly! Although it programs and verifies fine, one of the peripherals is probably bad, and is preventing it from communicating with the app.

    This was my very first bad mcu! If anyone is interested it has “23DXE1K A” production code, while the working one has “23DXE2K A”.

    Again, by luck I had one spare G2553, and after I replaced it and programmed it, everything was fine.

     

    NOTE: While trying out to figure out where the RF setups are written in the flash, I accidentally erased the INFO part of the G2553 memory. Douh! Not working again. Button presses were working but the response was sluggish. Quick search revealed that the internal clock calibration data is held in the INFO part of the memory, and that clock is now defaulting at 1 MHz. There is a solution that I have used to recalibrate the clock using the supplied 32 kHz crystal as a reference. Source: http://e2e.ti.com/support/microcontrollers/msp43016-bit_ultra-low_power_mcus/f/166/p/52911/388857.aspx#388857

     

    Finally, everything was working now.

    E14.jpg

    The units were spaced cca. 5 m apart, with some wooden table parts obstructing the clear view. Under that conditions RSSI was -55 to -70 dBm, with both units set on 10 dBm RF power.

     

    Although it should be possible to remotely configure the node once paired, I was not able to do so? All the setting were executed on the local hub, no matter which node I chosen.

     

     

    Anaren BoosterStack software

     

    I haven’t spent a lot of time examining the supplied CCS project, but it looks well written and well commented although a little bit massive. Beginners in C/C+/C++ embedded programming would probably have some difficulties implementing some features of their own, but with some help it should not be that hard.

     

     

    Conclusion

     

     

    I must admit  I have mixed feelings about this air module. It looks as an easy way to add wireless capability to you MPS430 project. Just add SPI bus interface to the Anaren radio chip and that’s it !? Implementing it and getting it work correctly requires pretty good set of skills in programming and troubleshooting. Originally I had a plan to build small PV panel, and equip it with this air module to monitor power produced. Due to some other reasons, this project is on hold, but if I get it done I will post an update here.

     


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