Capacitive touch sensor shield for the TI Launchpad

Texas Instruments just released a product they call the Capacitive Touch Boosterpack which is basically a touch-sensitive shield for the Launchpad. The video after the break shows an unboxing and demonstration of the product which TI is launching with a $4.30 limited-time price tag. The red PCB itself has a capacitive touch button in the center, surrounded by a touch-scroll wheel, which is centered in a proximity senor that takes up the rest of the board. There are also nine LEDs which look like they’re soldered on the underside of the board, through routed holes that mount them flush with the top surface. The pack also comes with a new MSP430 microcontroller, the G2452, which has 8 KB of flash memory and takes care of calibrating, reading, and processing signals from the board thanks to the software package that goes along with the add-on kit.

Looks quite nice. There’s a heck of a lot of information in the documentation for this hardware. We do wish it was a bit easier to find board layout information, but we’re sure it’s there somewhere.

[Thanks t11r via Four-Three-oh!]

Comments

  1. Loki says:

    Just ordered two for BrainSilo – these should be fun!

  2. Rogan Dawes says:

    Ordered two last night, when I saw the article on Four Three Oh. At least then the website was pretty quick :-) I think TI have got their act together finally.

  3. lobster says:

    I just grabbed 3. I wish they had a hacker/electronic enthusiast selection when they ask you why you are getting the product.

  4. goldscott says:

    Ordered one!

    My day job is using the Cypress PSoC for touchscreens. Now that everyone is getting in the touch game, it’s time to find out who’s best…

  5. dp93 says:

    Your wish for layout info has maybe been granted via the doc on this URL;

    http://focus.ti.com/lit/ug/slau337/slau337.pdf

    enjoy!

  6. Markus Gritsch says:

    The EAGLE Files are in this .zip: http://focus.ti.com/lit/sw/slac490/slac490.zip

  7. Nomad says:

    Well, just as usual US hackers get to be happy with a neat expansion for $4.30 but the rest of the world doesn’t.

    Well at least i hope it will even get to germany. It was already hard to find a shop that sold the launchpad AND the ez430 Chronos.

  8. Sariel says:

    @ nomad
    maybe you should post a request on the forums to see if someone in the US could send you one.

  9. NatureTM says:

    Ordered a couple, but now I’m more interested in looking at that GUI source code. I didn’t know PC Launchpad communications were officially supported. I figured someone was going to have to hack the debugger.

    I’m surprised they used female headers on the expansion board. Most of the pictures I’ve seen of LP projects have LP’s with female headers. Shouldn’t be hard to work around though.

  10. lobster says:

    @nomad
    To be honest I was surprised it shipped to Alaska for free.

    I hope you can get one.

  11. Max says:

    This is pretty neat. However, how can that be an easter egg if they tell you about it? I bet it’s the konami code

  12. NatureTM says:

    …and I just got rickrolled by Texas Instruments.

  13. lobster says:

    @NatureTM
    What?

  14. Volfram says:

    @goldscott I love the PSoC series! I’m trying to make a capacitive-touch mod to a PS3 controller right now and thought this might be a good thing to look at.

    Unfortunately, I now have a dozen 24-pin QFN chips and need to get at least three of them soldered onto cheap breakout boards. Success has been… elusive.

  15. Well I ordered two of these boards, and the order failed… then I ordered two more and saw the first order really didn’t fail! Guess what two fails equals? A WIN!

    4 boards on the way to me, FREE SHIPPING! Weeeeeee!!

    I keep it locked to Hackaday for two reasons, best hacks and best cool geeky deals!

  16. profil says:

    @Nomad
    I got one shipped to Sweden for free, where do you live?

  17. DonLoco says:

    @Nomad
    Shipping to Germany was free in my order!

  18. t11r says:

    @Nomad, launchpads ship to the Netherlands for free just fine.
    Me and two colleges ordered 6 in total spread out over ~6 months for $4.30 incl. shipping.
    Ordering this booster went just fine.
    Maybe you should just try it, you’re only wasting 3,50 euro.

  19. Just me says:

    I also got error on first order and ordered second time just after that. Now I’m getting two. Well, it’s ok for me :)

  20. Ive ordered three just now to match my 3 430 dev board kits. They are VERY well-made. No problems ordering (but I have a corporate account with them anyways, so I dunno).

  21. Stew says:

    @Nomad got my 3 shipped to South Africa for free.

  22. goldscott says:

    @Volfram

    I solder the 56 pin QFN CY8C24894 on our prototype boards pretty easily. Drag solder with a medium tip and use plenty of flux. Currently, I’m using the TST user module (heavily modified to work better) to do one and two point touches on 7″ and 10″ screens. Also working on using 4 chips (one for each quadrant) of a 15″ screen.

    Cypress PSoC started in the touch game pretty early, so their chips are in quite a few products. Used to be in the iPod. I’ve noticed Atmel is really stepping up and partnering with some big players for integrated touchscreen monitors. I also just read a press release yesterday about their haptics integrated touch chips.

    Microchip then came along and made a couple of captouch chips. Work bought me their development touch screen kit, which actually has a pretty nice GUI to tune the sensors.

    TI is late to the party.

    Capacitive touch buttons and touch screens are nice for certain applications, but way overkill for most of what they’ve been applied to. Do I really need captouch buttons in my car? No. They don’t make life any easier or faster or simpler. But the manufacturer will charge a heavy premium for them…

  23. Silas says:

    * A hidden code/lock is embedded in the wheel. Correct sequence [similar to a
    * rotational combination lock] reveals a secret address.

    Found this in the source code file.

  24. uveco says:

    Just ordered 3 with free shipping to UK and they are on the way!
    Plan on using for a motion control rig

  25. anthonyn says:

    How do you enter 0 in combination lock?
    4-3-0? guess?

  26. Nomad says:

    @Almost everyone: It’s not a problem of shipment, but one of payment. Can’t buy anything with a credit hard without having one…and TI is way too big to use PayPal (at least it wasn’t in the list of payment methods)

  27. @Nomad – Paypal will let you create a one-time use credit card number that you can then use anywhere that takes credit cards only ;-)

  28. Agent420 says:

    Bah. I’ll just continue to use free/scrapped touchpads with my avr’s and arms. ( http://hackaday.com/2009/07/20/touchpad-and-vfd-hacking/ )

    Granted $4.30 is cheap, but my previous psoc experience has been that the free development software is lacking for advanced features (like any kind of C coding), at which point things become expensive.

  29. Volfram says:

    @Agent420

    Having used both the TI and Cypress development studios in recent history, I would like to inform you that the C functionality is no longer a paid feature. Most of the example source is in Assembly, so I personally have ended up having to dance between the two on a given project, but the freely-available development software has apparently come a long way since you last used it.

    Given the software itself doesn’t cost anything, I encourage you to download it and check it out.(I particularly like the PSoC Designer, which allows the programmer to place and route hardware portions of the project which will then have software stubs added to the source automatically.)

  30. bluehash says:
  31. Volfram says:

    so I ordered a pair…

    Has anyone had them arrive yet? Shipment tracking isn’t exactly working.(just another area where Cypress wins)

  32. @Volfram – My 4 arrived today via Fedex! They look amazingly slick. I’m really impressed by the overall design, because like just about everything else I’m seeing lately that’s cool… I had the same idea!!! I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but people with more time than me keep implementing the stuff of my dreams. I’ll take it as a confirmation that I’m on the right track ;-)

  33. T!nT says:

    Just received it, and started experimenting but i cant seem to find the GUI can someone help me out?

  34. Adrian says:

    Hi T!nT, you can find the GUI in the Capacitive Touch BoosterPack (430BOOST-SENSE1) Tool Folder, in the “Support Software” section at the bottom of the page: http://focus.ti.com/docs/toolsw/folders/print/430boost-sense1.html

    Have fun with your BoosterPacks!

    Adrian

  35. Bizmeister says:

    Just thought I’d let the folks here know I also received my MSP430 order via FedEx. It took less than a week to get to Canada.

  36. I got mine up and running. I’m really impressed with the minimal hardware required… that is to say, ZERO hardware for cap-touch. Just a pad and some layout traces back to the micro input. Very nice. The initial firmware demo seems a tad flaky, but I think that might just be because there is a small dial and it’s hard to feel where it is, vs. something like the iPod jog wheel. I love the LEDs, and the whole design actually. Getting the software and manuals downloaded and installed could be a tad easier… it’s definitely not as polished as the Arduino IDE. The price is absolutely spot on though ;-) However if I don’t end up using it long term even free would be a waste of my time.

    I wasn’t able to get the easter egg to work (as noted above), and I tried just about every different way to enter it in. I guess that part doesn’t matter much though. Now, I wonder who the first to implement something useful out of this will be?

  37. Doctor Memory says:

    @Agent420: I’ve had no problems using mspgcc to cross-compile code for my MSP430, and mspdebug to load and run them on the Launchpad. I’m running on Linux (Ubuntu 10.04), so the IDEs are no good for me.

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