Hackaday Prize Entry: A Tiva Shaped Like an Arduino

Texas Instruments’ Tiva C LaunchPad showcases TI’s ARM Cortex-M4F, a 32-bit, 80Mhz microcontroller based on the TM4C123GH6PM. The Tiva series of LaunchPads serve as TI’s equivalent of the Arduino Uno, and hovers at about the same price point, except with more processing power and a sane geometry for the GPIO pins.

The Tiva’s processor runs five times faster than standard ATMega328P, and it sports 40 multipurpose GPIO pins and multiple serial ports. Just like the Arduino has shields, the Tiva has Booster Packs, and TI offers a decent number of options—but nothing like the Arduino’s ecosystem.

[Jacob]’s Arduino-Tiva project, an entry in the Hackaday Prize, aims to reformat the Tiva by building a TM4C123GH6PM-based board using the same form 2″x 3″ factor as the Arduino, allowing the use of all those shields. Of course, an Arduino shield only uses two rows of pins, so [Jacob]’s board would position the spare pins at the end of the board and the shield would seat on the expected ones.

The finished project could be flashed by either the Arduino IDE or TI’s Energia platform, making it an easy next step for those who’ve already mastered Arduinos but are looking for more power.

17 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: A Tiva Shaped Like an Arduino

    1. Why do you need this, if you can get STM32 Nucleo with much newer and faster ARM Cortex M4 and M7?

      TM4C123 is quite old CPU, I kind of regret that I’ve started my personal project development with it 2..3 years ago. While STM32 lines evolved, and they now got 200+ MHz MCUs – TI did nothing new (or faster) to suggest on the same platform of general purpose Cortex M4/M7. They pursued development of very specialized or hybrid architectures instead. Going to migrate to STM32 soon….

      Btw, TM4C123 is still cool device, their 64-bit PWM/Timer peripherals are superior to 32-bit you can find in STM32. It is just a little slow for nowadays applications of true embedded devices. I am not talking about IoT where you have family of toy boards with A-series ARMs and Linux on top. I mean, if I need general purpose MCU, but wanna do some DSP or just slightly heavier than average computing at the same time – STM32 or NXP are the options to go with (not TI).

      1. As the author of this project, I can answer. You don’t need it. This was originally just a learning experience for me. I have never spun a board or done SMT work before and I considered this something I could tackle. I also has a few TivaC Launchpads from when TI was almost giving them away so I was familiar with that ecosystem and that’s the direction I went.
        I’ve not worked with STM32’s but after reading your comment and quickly looking at their line up, they do have some great price/performance options. I’ll really have to consider those for future projects.
        I do like the drivers and tools TI provides. However I’m not sure how they compare to ST or other ARM manufactures. I won’t say they are painless, but at least they seem well documented. I’ve been able to address all the issues I’ve encountered along the way just perusing their docs and the occasional support forum visit.

      2. Alex, I need this for the same reason any hobbyist needs an Arduino UNO (whose processor ATMEGA is more than 10 Yo technology): well stablished, well documented and widely available as well. We hobbists are no dogs running after our own tails, we do value our money and don’t need the newest 500Mhz 32-bit 2017 14-bit AD microprocessor!.

      3. Cortex M4 in STM32s is the same CPU, that running Tiva devices, so, there’s no any advantages of ST.
        However TM4C123 is pretty strange choice for such board. TM4C129x is much better (120MHz operation, embedded Ethernet 10/100 MAC+PHY, big ram and flash) and “must have” for many evaluation projects.
        For heavy computing there’s TI C2000 DSP family, but TMS architecture makes you feel unhappy with 16-bit bytes.

        Tivaware driver library is much simpler, than disasterous STM32 HAL (worst driver library I ever seen), and comes preloaded with chip rom, so it doesn’t consume .text section

        Anyway, when EK-TM4C1294 cost about 20$ why ever Arduino-like board is needed?

  1. Really depends on the application, many don’t need a cutting edge mcu and not to mention wading through several thousand pages of documentation.

    The fact that the 805x is still around and selling points to this. Same thing with the Z-8 or Sam 3.

  2. For me the crippled arduino form factor can hardly be an improvement. maybe the mega formfactor… but i like breadboardability a lot. especially when converting that to a protoboard.

    1. “blue pill” STM32 boards (aka Maple Mini clones) are the win here, 72MHz 32-bit processor, dual 12-bit 1MSPS ADCs, 4 PWM timers with 4 outputs each, USB, CAN, and plenty more – they plug straight into a breadboard (similar form factor to the Arduino Nano) but offer massively more power, while being ultra cheap (<$2 from China), and retain compatibility with the Arduino IDE (via the stm32duino project)

      All you need to get started is a usb to serial adapter – while they can be loaded with an Arduino style bootloader, you'll have to program them "manually" at least once, as they come blank from the factory. However they do have a hardware bootloader to allow easy programming via any serial interface, so getting that bootloader installed is a trivial affair even for novice developers.

  3. I, had signed up to receive a e-mail when the BeagleBone Blue? Green? Was supposed to be released… *Sigh* Anyone have an idea when we will see a nice affordable ($40) open GPU Cortex M7F gets out the door that has a ton of pins/channels/cores. Seems like it will be 5-7 years wait now. There were two or three other companies that said it was licensed part of their pipeline but now only ST, NXP/Freescale are the only ones left.

    Nice mod, it would be a godsend if someone could get an open toolchain for any of TI stuff.

    1. “… it would be a godsend if someone could get an open toolchain for any of TI stuff.”

      By “open” do you mean source code available or license? I’ve found while working this that source code was available from them for every aspect of it. Code Compose Studio is now free for this line of chips. The source code is provided for all “drivers” they provide in the TivaWare package. Factory chips come preloaded with a basic bootloader which enumerates over USB as a DFU interface, albeit with a minor modification to the image file They provide the source to modify the output of a gcc compiled binary to this structure.
      Flashing can be done with dfu-util (already oss). The only issue there is TI does not respond to the DFU interface defined reset command. They have their own command for that so I had to mod dfu-util to send this instead. That is probably the most useful thing to come out of this work. I’m also working on have cross platform tools for flashing.

    2. > If someone could get an open toolchain for any of TI stuff.

      MSP430, Tiva (Cortex M4F) and SimpleLink(MSP432 is the same Cortex M4F), Sitara (Cortex A8/A15) families has full gcc support, what else do you want

  4. This is just FYI… Freescale, now NXP, has the FRDM series eval boards which are form-factor compatible with the Arduino™ R3 pin layout. I used the TI Stellaris line, but dumped them when they dumped the Stellaris and replaced it with the Tivo line. Where TI charged for their IDE at the time, the Kinetis SDK is free and for my purposes very capable.

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