Finally, TI is producing simple, cheap WiFi modules

TI

Ever responsive to the hobbyist market, Texas Instruments is releasing a very inexpensive, very simple WiFi module specifically designed for that Internet of Things.

The TI SimpleLink TI CC3000 WiFi module is a single-chip solution to putting 802.11b/g WiFi in just about every project you can dream up. Just about everything needed to put the Internet in a microcontroller is included in this chip – there’s a TCP/IP stack included on the chip, along with all the security stuff needed to actually connect to a network.

The inexpensive micocontroller WiFi solutions we’ve seen – including the very cool Electric Imp – had difficult, or at least odd, means of putting WiFi credentials such as the SSID and password onto the device. TI is simplifying this with SmartConfig, an app running on a phone, tablet, or PC that automagically takes care of setting up a link in a wireless network.

Best of all, the CC3000 only costs $10 in quantities of 1000. Compare that to other Internet of Things WiFi solutions, and it looks like we might be seeing and easy and cheap way to connect a project to the internet this year.

TI Launches C2000 Launchpad (featuring Billy Mays)

The Texas Instruments MSP430 Launchpad is pretty popular in hacks, likely due to its low price. TI has recently released a new C2000 Launchpad device that offers more power and peripherals for $17. This board uses the C2000 Piccolo processor, which is meant for DSP applications.

Also included is an unrestricted version of the Code Composer Studio IDE and the controlSUITE software package. You can also run the free SYS/BIOS RTOS on this board. It’s nice to see TI providing a lot of free, non-crippled tools that could be used to power some pretty advanced hacks.

Most MSP430 Launchpad Booster Packs should be compatible with this board, and TI has a new layout for Booster Packs that use the additional pins. There is a C2000 specific LED Booster Pack available now for $30. There are also specifications for building your own Booster Packs for the C2000.

TI has released a slightly cheesy promotional video that features a [Billy Mays] like performance. Check it out after the break.

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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]

Cemetech’s ultimate calculator V2

[Christopher] piped up in our comments on a recent post about using laptop touch pads in other things, noting that he had done this on his Ultimate Calculator Version 2. What he’s done is upgraded his TI-83+ calculator to house a number of improvements and customizations. It now has a stronger RGB backlight so he can illuminate his screen in whatever color strikes his mood. He also integrated a PS2 port so he could use an external mouse/ keyboard. What brought this to our comments though, was the embedded laptop touchpad on the back that is also fully functional. He topped it all off with a rather pleasing paint job as well.

The funny thing is, we caught a glimpse of this thing in a previous post about networking these calculators.

Using a touch screen with an STM32 microcontroller

[Andy Brown] has been working on a series of tutorials revolving around the STM32 processor family. He’s using the STM32plus development board, with an STM32F1 ARM Cortex M3 processor to drive a couple of different full color graphic LCD screens. His latest installment shows how to read from the touch screen included with both displays.

After the break we’ve embedded the video from which this screenshot was taken. As an example, [Andy] has programmed a painting program to show off what the touchscreen overlay is capable of. It starts off with the calibration routine we’re all familiar with, then drops to this screen with a virtual control panel and blank canvas.

This hardware uses the Texas Instruments ADS7843 controller, which [Andy] says is extremely common and that several other manufacturers use the same communications protocols. He discusses how to communicate with the controller, and how to incorporate the data into your program. Included is an open source library which you can use in your own projects.

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TI’s new web site appeals to the penny pincher in us

tideals_chronos_watch

We’ve got to admit, we’re pretty much cheapskates when it comes to buying electronic bits online. Whether its microcontrollers or PCBs, we hate to part with money. So, we were pretty excited to hear that Texas Instruments is dishing out deals two weeks at a time to hackers, makers, and the like.

Several of you wrote in to tip us off to TI’s new site: TI Deals. Basically, they are deeply discounting various products, changing the lineup every two weeks. Now, we were expecting something like 20%-25% off certain items, but so far the TI Deals look pretty sweet. Right now, they are offering the Chronos watch kit for 50% off – which is a pretty nice discount. We’re definitely interested to see what sorts of other things will go on the chopping block in the future.

Thinking of picking up a Chronos watch? Let us know what sort of project you have planned.

If you are on the fence and need a little inspiration, check out these Chronos-based projects we have featured in the past:

Printable gripping rover is wristwatch controlled

Google two-factor authentication in a wristwatch

Wireless Sniffing and Jamming of Chronos and iclicker

Texas Instruments watch claims it’s a computer mouse

RGB LED spectrum analyzer coffee table

rgb_led_spectrum_analyzer_coffee_table

This year, students working for Texas Instruments as part of their Co-op program were challenged to construct a project around the company’s MSP430 microcontroller. A team of three students, [Max Thrun, Mark Labbato, Ian Cathey] decided to build something that would fit perfectly in any college student’s dorm room – an RGB LED coffee table.

We’ve covered RGB LED tables in the past, but as far as we can tell this is the first MSP430 based unit we’ve seen. Microcontroller aside, the table features a lot of items that are considered “standard equipment” when it comes to these sorts of living room LED installations. The trio installed 128 RGB LEDs into their table, isolating each one using a wooden grid, and used some frosted glass to diffuse the display a bit.

What really makes this table stand out is the software. The team wrote an application that creates a Fast Fourier Transform of whatever music is being played, in order to find beats and generate real-time visualizations for their table. The result is a pleasing display that’s sure to be a hit at parties.

Check out the video below to see their creation in action.

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