New Version of Energia Supports Wolverine and Connected

Energia UpdateThere is something to be said about how easy it is to write Arduino code. For those of who you are big fans of the MSP430 and Texas Instrument’s LaunchPad series, an upcoming release of Energia brings Arduino style coding to the two newest member of the LaunchPad family: the TivaC Connected LaunchPad EK-TM4C1294XL and Wolverine FRAM LaunchPad MSP-EXP430FR5969LP.

“Energia is an open-source electronics prototyping platform … with the goal to bring the Wiring and Arduino framework to the Texas Instruments MSP430 based LaunchPad.” The newest release of Energia is exciting for the sole reason that the new TivaC Connected LaunchPad and Wolverine FRAM LaunchPad are supported. The TivaC Connected LaunchPad is a $20 development board for TI’s low-power ARM processors that has Ethernet connectivity. The MSP430 at the heart of the Wolverine FRAM LaunchPad uses up to 250x less power than flash based MCUs at low speeds in addition to many other cool benefits.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the new version of Energia, it should be arriving sometime next week. Now is a better time than ever to try out the Tiva C or the MSP430 MCUs!

TI Launches “Connected LaunchPad”

Tiva C Series Connected Launchpad

TI’s LaunchPad boards have a history of being both low cost and fully featured. There’s a board for each of TI’s major processor lines, and all of them support the same “BoosterPack” interface for additional functionality. Today, TI has announced a new LaunchPad based on their new Tiva C ARM processors, which is designed for connectivity.

The Tiva C Series Connected LaunchPad is based on the TM4C129x processor family. These provide an ethernet MAC and PHY on chip, so the only external parts required are magnetics and a jack. This makes the Connected LaunchPad an easy way to hop onto ethernet and build designs that require internet connections.

This development board is focused on the “Internet of Things,” which it seems like every silicon manufacturer is focusing on nowadays. However, the real news here is a low cost board with tons of connectivity, including ethernet, two CANs, 8 UARTs, 10 I2Cs, and 4 QSPIs. This is enough IO to allow for two BoosterPack connectors that are fully independent.

Connected Launchpad Details

For the launch, TI has partnered with Exosite to provide easy access to the LaunchPad from the internet. A pre-loaded demo application will allow you to toggle LEDs, read button states, and measure temperature over the internet using Exosite. Unlike some past LaunchPads, this one is designed for easy breadboarding, with all MCU pins broken out to a breadboard compatible header.

Finally, the price is very right. The board will be release at $19.99 USD. This is less than half the price of other ethernet-ready development boards out there. This makes it an attractive solution for hackers who want to put a device on a wired network, or need a gateway between various devices and a network. 

Porting Contiki to the TI MSP430 Launchpad

For many years Contiki has been one of the main choices when it came to choosing an IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks stack (aka 6LoWPAN). It is developed by a world-wide team of developers with contributions from Atmel, Cisco, ETH, etc… and is open source. As most platforms to which Contiki has been ported are quite expensive, [Marcus] decided to bring the operating system to the TI Launchpad. For our readers that don’t know, the latter is based on a msp430g2452/2553 microcontroller, which only have 256/512 bytes of RAM and 16kB of ROM. As a side note, Contiki typically requires 10k RAM and 30k ROM.

[Marcus] therefore had to remove several features from Contiki: queue-buffering, energy estimation and regrettably uIP. His test setup (shown above) uses the TI CC2500 radio that can be found for less than $2 on Aliexpress, for which he wrote radio drivers from scratch. He also coded his own radio duty-cicling layer, as the one included in Contiki was too big.

Accurate-ish Pneumatic Cylinder Positioning

pneumatic flow positioning

Pneumatic cylinder positioning? If you have a technical background you should be scratching your head right now. Pneumatic cylinder positioning? That’s not really suppose to work! Well, [arduinoversusevil] has hacked together a system, that… kind of does work.

First a little background on [arduinoversusevil]. He’s building a hydraulic/pneumatic, bartending robot. Awesome.

Anyway, he recently picked up old hydraulic cylinder for next to nothing, and decided to try messing around with it. He purged the oil out of it and is now using it as a pneumatic cylinder. He also picked up a cheap $10 plastic Adafruit flow meter, and decided to try to make a positional pneumatic cylinder. Using a Launchpad development board, he controls the solenoid valves using a Dangerous Prototypes ATX breakout board. Surprisingly the cheap Adafruit flow meter was sufficiently accurate enough to measure the amount of air in the cylinder, which, depending on the load, can be used to position the cylinder, somewhat accurately.

He ran a test of about 360 cycles before the flow meter broke, and was able to achieve an accuracy of about 5mm! Not bad at all. Stick around after the break to see it in action — and to hear his colorful commentary.

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Hackaday Links: August 25, 2013

hackaday-links-chain

[Adrian] came across a treasure trove of 507 mechanical device designs. It didn’t seem quite right for a Retrotechtacular post, but we wanted to share it as it’s a great place to come up with ideas for your next Rube Goldberg machine.

Biking with headphones is dangerous. That’s why [J.R.] built a handlebar enclosure for his Jambox Bluetooth speaker.

While dumpster diving [Mike] found a Macbook pro. It was missing a few things, like a keyboard, touchpad, battery, ram, and storage. He borrowed a power supply to test it out but without the keyboard there’s no power button. He figured out the traces on the motherboard which turn it on when shorted.

[Mateusz] want to let us know about the Hercules LaunchPad. Like the other TI Launchpad offerings it’s an all-in-one dev board. The Hercules line features a couple of flavors of dual-core ARM chips. Can you believe the dev boards you can get for under $20 these days?

After seeing the ammo can sound system about a month ago [Ilpo] was inspired to share his ammo can PC case with us.

And finally, here’s a way to display your Bitcoin mining rig for all to see. This system was laid out in an antique frame and hung on the wall.

External pinball controls for an Android tablet

android-pinball-controls

This hack, which adds external flipper controls to Android pinball, is a great way to cut your teeth at Android hardware hacking.

[Ruben] decided to go with the TI Launchpad for this project. The MSP430 dev board offers serial communications via a USB connection, but it’s not quite as easy as just finding the right cable. His tablet does support USB On the Go (OTG), but the board identifies itself as an ACM device which needs to be handled differently. In order to get the tablet talking to the Launchpad he compiled a CDC_ACM module for the Linux underpinnings that make up every Android OS. In this case the module is tailored for the Allwinner A10 chip inside his model of tablet, but it shouldn’t be too hard to adapt his guide for other processors.

Of course you could go a different route and use Bluetooth for connectivity. We’ve seen several gaming peripherals that use this technique with Android devices.

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MSP430 touchscreen piano

msp430-touchscreen-piano

[Rohit Gupta] wrote in to share this touchscreen piano project he built around the TI Launchpad. It provided a way for him to explore using a resistive digitizer found on a lot of mobile devices. These are simply stuck to the top of LCD screens and replacements are inexpensive, but salvaging one from old hardware is an option as well.

The first thing he did was to test the four outputs of the digitizer with his multimeter. Logging the changing resistance will help make sure you’re reading the correct wires and are able to zero in the settings before you start coding. [Rohit] uses the ADC on the MSP430 chip to read from the screen. He went with the algorithm from one of TI’s app notes to convert the readings in to X and Y coordinates.

He separated the screen into seven columns, each generating a different tone. Touching higher or lower on that column will alter the pitch of the note produced. You can hear an example of this in the demo after the jump.

[Read more...]

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