Using Spy-Bi-Wire with the MSP430 Launchpad

[Suraj] has been working with some larger MSP430 chips with won’t fit on the Launchpad board. But that’s okay because he built a shield and wrote a guide about using the Spy-Bi-Wire protocol for programming the chips.

SBW is a four-wire interface. In the past we’ve used all of the board’s programming connections for in circuit programming, but the chips that support SBW only need a connection to the SBW and TEST pins (of course the other two connections are for voltage and ground). This shield brings the four pins together into one male pin header. In the image above [Suraj] is using the technique to program an MSP430F4152. His guide is Windows-based, but looking back, [Sprite_TM] shows how to use SBW when debugging in Eclipse.

TI Launchpad as AVR ISP programmer

[Minifloat] is using his TI Launchpad development board as an In-System Programmer for AVR chips (translated). There are a ton of homebrew AVR programmers out there, and using an Arduino for ISP is quite popular. But recently we searched for a way to use the Launchpad as a programmer and didn’t find one. We’d venture to say this is the first.

There is one hardware modification that must be made. An external clock crystal (32.768 kHz) must be populated on the board. But since it was designed with the feature in mind that’s a pretty quick process. [Minifloat] followed Atmel’s ISP app note, and extended some of the code written for a different programmer to get things up and running. At first the device wouldn’t communicate with AVRdude, but that turns out to be a problem with the initialization conversation. AVRdude polls the connected programmer to see if it supports block mode, and the firmware on the MSP430G2211 wasn’t expecting this query. The problem was fixed and it now works.

It sounds like there are a couple of bugs left in the system. The first time AVRdude accesses the programmer after it has been plugged into the USB port it will fail. Subsequent attempts will succeed until the MSP430 chip is reset, or the USB connection is replugged. But if you’re just getting into the AVR line, this will let you figure out if you want to invest in a proper programmer.

We don’t need no stinkin’ packages!

DIP, SOIC, BGA, MLF or QFP?  None, so it seems.

This morning I received an email from Texas Instruments. Normally, these things go right into the spambox but this one was a bit unique. You can now buy some of TI’s IC’s without any packaging. Yup, just trays full of silicon squares. From TI’s point of view miniaturization has reached a point where that extra 0.1″ of PCB space is now too valuable to give to a piece of worthless plastic, and bonding micro-small wires to a silicon die is a feat that any manufacturer can preform with great accuracy, reliability and speed.

Whether this is a new paradigm in manufacturing or a premature April fool’s joke, if this process catches on smartphones just went from being almost unrepairable to 100% unrepairable, and ipod nanos might just start playing back 1080p video. It’s awesome and scary at the same time.

Now, are they crazy, or just ahead of their time? Tell us what you think.

Custom microcontroller using only a Dremel

Check out this 6-pin MSP430 microcontroller. What’s that you say? TI doesn’t make a 6-pin MSP430? True, Texas Instruments doesn’t make one, so [Greg] grabbed his Demel and a cutoff wheel, and chopped up a larger uC to arrive at this package.

It may sound a bit crazy at first, but when you think about it there’s nothing really all that special about this. The plastic package on DIP components these days is mostly empty. The silicon die which does the computing is quite small in comparison, and usually mounted in the very center of the part. [Greg] simply cut off eight of the unneeded pins (four from each end).

Well, it might be a stretch to call them unneeded since he cut the ground and voltage pins. He gets around this issue by taking advantage of the same properties of the I/O pins used in this barebones RFID tag. You can inject power through the I/O and we’d bet you could easily use this chopped-up MSP430G2211 as an RFID tag if you wanted to.

[Thanks Ian]

Doom for your calculator gets a color upgrade

You’re not still playing nDoom in black and white, are you? What decade do live in? Thankfully, the Doom port for TI-nspire calculators has been upgraded to support color. That is if you’ve got the hardware to run it.

The video after the break (and the image above) shows a TI-nspire CX running the popular first-person-shooter. It’s seen several upgrades since the beta version which we saw piggy-backed with a different TI-83 hack a year ago. The control scheme has been tweaked, and a menu system was added. It’s not the same on-screen menu that you would see with the DOS version of the game, but it accomplishes that same thing. This port is packaged with the Ndless program that unlocks the hardware so that you can perform your own hacks.

Unfortunately there is still no sound available for the game but that is a project for a different time. We know it must be possible because we’ve seen a TI-84+ used to play music stored on a thumb drive. [Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

TI Launchpad adds computer control to a robot arm

[Eric Gregori] had an OWI535 toy robotic arm. Although cheap (coming it at around $30) the arm is only set up to be used via a wired control box. [Eric] knew he could do better by adding computer control via a TI Launchpad and motor driver peripheral.

The arm has shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints, a rotating base, and a gripper. All of these are actuated by 3V DC motors and have just two control wires. [Eric's] motor driver add-on for the Launchpad works great in this case. It’s got three FAN8200 dual motor driver chips on board so it can control up to six motors. Once he made the hardware connections it’s just a matter of sending the commands to the Launchpad via its USB interface, but you will also need to use a larger microcontroller than comes with the Launchpad. Here he’s chosen an MSP430G2553.

In order to make things a little bit more fun he also wrote a GUI for controlling the arm from the computer. He used RobotSee, a programming language that lets you use an image of the hardware, and overlay the controls on top of it. Now he just needs to make this into a web interface and he can have a smartphone controlled crane game.

Don’t forget to check out the video after the break. [Read more...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,478 other followers