TI’s inexpensive Piccolo and Stellaris dev boards

Texas Instruments is trying to take the success it had with the LaunchPad and apply it to other chip architectures. The board seen above is their new C2000 Piccolo LaunchPad. It’s a development board for the F28027 chip. This 32-bit offering is a part we know nothing about. A first look shows a clock speed between 40 and 60 MHz, 64k of Flash memory, and a JTAG programming interface. It sounds like an unrestricted copy of Code Composer Studio is also available to use as the development environment. At $17 won’t break the bank, but we also don’t feel that welling of excitement to get in on one of these units.

What does get us excited is the Stellaris LaunchPad offering. It’s not available yet (which always makes us want it more), but you can enter a drawing to get a free one when they are released. Be warned, with only 25 up for grabs the odds are against you. There are no details, other than a target price of $4.99 for the ARM development board. We’ve had a lot of fun with the STM32 ARM board, and this might be a new adventure to undertake.

[Thanks Máté]

26 thoughts on “TI’s inexpensive Piccolo and Stellaris dev boards

  1. These Piccolo parts are actually very interesting; I’ve been playing with TI’s also-pretty-cheap “controlStick” EVMs for a while.

    The CPUs have a CLA (control law accelerator) peripheral, which is basically a second, stripped-down FPU bolted to a simple control sequencer. It lets you do parallel processing while the CPU is working on other stuff.

    Plus, there are “U” variants in the family that have USB host and peripheral support baked-in.

    Most importantly, for me, the development environment recently picked up Linux support. I’m quite happy to vote with my wallet.

  2. I grew up in the hobbyist community and just like everyone else I was no stranger to PICs, STM32s, ATinys, and ATmegas. I too had never heard of the C2000 series of devices until the group hired me in and gave me the project of designing this board (among other things).

    As I’ve worked in the group, I’ve learned a lot about this chip and real time controls which is the intended application of this board. C2000 devices have evolved over the years to become real-time micro-controllers. Typically applications would be things like switch mode power supplies or motor controllers. Imagine instead of using an analog IC and discrete resistors and capacitors to control your Buck converter you used a Piccolo device instead. Now, instead of an analog IC and component tolerances to deal with, you have fixed values in software that will never change. Additionally if something needs fixed, its a code change not board rework.

    The core of this chip is a proprietary C28x architecture which has a DSP heritage. It shines when it is doing complex math operations and we supply libraries for things such as floating point emulation and FFTs. There is tight integration between the ADC (12 bit 4.6Msps) and PWMs to enable the quick processing of control loops. When our PWMs are in their high resolution mode, we can modulate the edges with a resolution of 150ps (yes…thats a p for pico).

    Don’t be scared though, there is no reason this chip can’t be used for general purpose micro-controller applications. We have a fully complement of your standard serial peripherals, and writing software for the chip is easy. I’m always striving to make this board easier to use and in the software package (called controlSUITE) I’ve included a new driver library. This should help users get started developing applications easily. Additionally in the coming months, I’m going to try to add support to Energia (an Arduino IDE for the MSP430 LaunchPad) for the C2000 LaunchPad.

    Can’t wait to see what the community comes up with using this board!

    1. Adding support for the C2000 on Energia sounds like the best idea to make this a popular board.
      I had 2 MSP430’s launchpads that collected dust for a year until I learned of Energia about a month ago.
      Now, I use them quite frequently.

  3. I fricking hate TI. Just today I received 3 (THREE) 14’x14’x4′ boxes. Inside every one of them was 1 (ONE) bubble wrapped envelope with 1 (ONE) PCB + bags full of air. All shipped DHL overnight air mall from across Europe.
    Those PCBs were $1 each (with free shipping). I bet they paid >$10 per box shipped.

    BTW they also canceled my order of brushless motor demo kit, Just like they canceled my Launchpad a year ago.

    1. Conversely, TI are one of my favourites. I’ve found them very responsive on the odd occasion I want samples. I found actually buying their stuff is more difficult. Microchip is the winner though, as the sampling works great and their own online store stocks just about every part they made in the past 20 years.

      Did you find out what you were actually getting in that motor demo kit? Populated board or just a bag of ICs?

  4. The Piccolo includes a MAC which allows for fast math operations. You can use iqMath which is TIs fixed point math library, and that carries over to their DSP line, too. It also has a powerful PWM unit and lots of peripherals. Really a nice chip for the money.

  5. I love TI OMG. Their calculators are great LOL. Mine has a pink back tehe.

    Joking aside, I’m actually found of their launchpads. I’m excited for this board too. They make great presents for budding hackers.

  6. I jumped on the bandwagon on the initial launchpad release and was extremely disappointed with Ti’s platform. For a novice like me I found Ti’s launchpad programming language far too much for me to handle (still not sure what programming language it uses). This is probably more suited for the seasoned programmers vice someone just starting out. On another note of great importance was the fact that Ti’s shipping normally runs 2-3 months behind. This isn’t just with the launchpad customers, but with all other Ti customers (Seems to be a Ti Norm.), so don’t expect to see much follow post up until people actually get them in hand. For the price I paid for my launch pad I still thought it was a great deal. I just really wish I could learn the language. Just my opinion, take it for what it’s worth.

    1. The LaunchPad is a development board. You are likely confusing it with the Arduino, which was designed to allow artists and other non-programmers and non-engineers to do basic things with microcontrollers.

      The MSP430 is actually one of the *easiest* microcontrollers to use at the native level. The architecture is clean, the peripherals are well-designed, and the datasheets are better than I have seen for any other microcontroller.

  7. Did they really unrestrict CCS5? Last I used it for MSP430 it was restricted to 32k or something. Wasn’t a huge problem but definitely a strike against them. Also it didn’t work on a mac.

    1. It’s 16k I believe (which is larger than the LP flashspace anyway?).

      That said, you can have a 90 day trial of their software, and they allow you to do a “1 time” extension for a further 90 days (I’m fairly certain I’ve done it three times now, as it’s been almost a year).

  8. I’m amazed by the marketing guys here.
    They have set up a contest with a web site and all bells & whistle for offering what?
    25 units that could have been sold 5$ each!

    How come you spend thousands of dollars for a website+database to finally offer 225$ in prizes ?


  9. Have you ever observed a virus which infects command prompt? I discovered one last week and had to edit the computer registry to get rid of some entries. It was a fairly hard removal because the entries were hidden very well. If you want I am able to discuss some of the things I did to eliminate this malware.

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