Free (…as In ‘free Beer’) ARM Kit

NXP holds a lot of market share for their ARM based solutions as it is. That’s why we were a little surprised when we found a link on their website announcing that they were giving away free LPCXpresso development boards, based on their Cortex-M0 line.

Catches? Unfortunately there are a few to get the board shipped and running. In order to do so, you must…

  • register with a corporate email address
    …the promo is targeted at engineers
  • use the crippled IDE supplied with the board
    …due to hard to find (non-existent?) documentation for the integrated LPC-Link
  • upload an original video of the physical destruction of a competing board to the NXP website

While killing your Arduino may not sound like the most fun, some qualified readers may be interested in moving up to 32-bits for a price that is hard to beat.

109 thoughts on “Free (…as In ‘free Beer’) ARM Kit

  1. Eh- I was interested until the destroy a competing board. That’s not even a question of cost for me- that’s just needlessly wasteful and I’m not going to play that kind of game for their marketing department.

  2. I only work with STM32 at work, which are Cortex M3. I surely won’t destroy one of those ;) ST was giving out 100% free boards a while ago btw. And those were pretty epic, they even had another STM32 for debugging the main one via USB.

    I wouldn’t even destroy an Arduino for that offer, even if I had one.

  3. This is just a malicious and anti-competitive promotion. Destroying competing boards doesn’t in any way encourage or facilitate learning or hobbyist pursuits.

    If anything, I will now NEVER use one of this company’s products because they are detracting from the hobbyist EE scene.

    I also don’t see them getting a whole lot of sales with a crippled BS IDE to work with. I have other IDEs for ARM work that I’d rather use.

  4. Yeah, I don’t see being able to convince myself let alone my boss to let me destroy a dev board no matter the cost. Hell, I couldn’t even bear to destroy my MSP430 launchpad for that.

  5. Yeah, I burnt through a DSpic30f3013 :(

    Looking at it now, i feel pretty bad about it, however, i did it because, well, for the same reason i got a launchpad instead of getting more components for the pic.

    I want to grow my experience, if this is at the detriment to a specific family, or that chips health, thats the choice that i have to sit with.

    I can get why they are doing it, they are trying to launch their product as a viral outbreak and yeah in this format they will get their videos.

    No one is forcing you to distroy your ardrino if you dont want to, i just wanted to take a look at another dev board.

    TL;DR, I feel a bit of a tool for being a pawn in the marketing game. however, im a cheap student so.. :)

  6. Two years ago, I blew up an ATMEGA168 with 6V by not paying attention, and because I am a packrat I saved it. I effectively traded a pre-dead chip for a working board by destroying it in an obvious way.

  7. I got one free from the LPC1100 challenge they ran a while back.

    The things I don’t like about it are:

    the board is so wide it doesn’t leave but one row of holes on my protoboard for wires, but not wide enough to straddle two rows.

    the GPIO on the part are a little bizarre. There is no way to read the output latch instead of the pin state.

    as noted you have to run the IDE to use the LPC link debugger backend.

    good things are:

    headers are all on 0.100″ center grid.

    IDE is based on eclipse and isn’t that horrible. IMHO better than code warrior, code composer studio 3, or MPLAB.

    There is a linux version of the IDE available (which I haven’t tried)

    gcc/binutils is used, and you can run that from the command line.

    the parts are mostly sane to work with and fairly inexpensive in volume.

  8. You have this all wrong. Well not all wrong, but you are putting people off.

    I am a hobbyist who happens to have a corporate email, I’d image that would be hard for most hobbyists, but not for University students.

    No comment on the IDE, as I have not tried this yet.

    This is where you are wrong. You can destroy any chip or board for this. Some people waste expensive ones, I wasted an ATtiny13V ( This video has been approved, and my board has been sent. An ATtiny13V is about $3 or so, plus I don’t use AVR chips any more. This one had sat in a box for a year, totally unflashed.

    My point is, it’s so easy to just destroy a small chip. That’s $3 for a new AVR, and then $30 for that new board. Good trade in my opinion.

  9. better idea: never talk about or use stuff from nxp because they have officially become asshats. i love ARM but this kind of marketing is just wrong and borders on evil.

    btw, who the hell would give out their CORPORATE address? do i really need to be harassed at work?

    there are plenty of ARM providers, so anyone else going to boycott nxp with me?

  10. So you need to:
    – destroy a board
    – bother filming and uploading it
    – agree to have your work email address apmmed
    And in exchange, you can potentially (at their discretion) qualify for a crippled ARM dev board?
    Wow, I’m glad I spent $25 on a TI Stellaris kit.

  11. i have to put my own ARM processor on this? so if i destroy my phone’s ‘motherboard’, preserving the black squares, i can just solder them on and git r done or does it come with a processor or what.. and whatis, how i gets.. a ‘corporate’ email addy?

  12. I just might do this for the lolz. I’ve got several random dev. boards and uC’s laying around which will likely get trashed at some point when I move out. I think I can light one up with my Burnz-O-Matic. I’d bet you can sniff the LPC link using something like a Bus Pirate as well. It’s kinda nice being the IT Admin as work, since I can just filter the crap they send along.

  13. Hey, i think you guys didn’t read the site thoroughly. the video is supposed to be of the destruction of a 8/16 microcontroller. it says nothing of a “competing” board, and i dont think it even has to be a dev board. if u check the submitted vids there’s people breaking all kinds of stuff.

  14. Perhaps they could offer samples like TI, ST, Analog Devices instead of launching stupid lmarketing campaigns.

    I could understand that Atmel doesn’t do it, given their recent financial health, but NXP could easily do it.

  15. Booker has been using the LPC1342/LPC1768 xPresso boards. Booker likes the boards. Booker likes the code samples. Most of all booker likes the IDE!

    This promotion is silly, but quite frankly I am sick of Arduinos being used for everything when there are lots of other options out there.

  16. I suppose you could use a chip that was already dead since you don’t have to prove it was working at the time of destruction. I know I have a few bad PICs around.

    But still, the destroy competing products part is a really sketchy idea….

  17. Weeeell, it looks like they ask for a pic or video of what you “would do” to your old chip, so maybe actual destruction isn’t necessary.

    If I could get away without actual destruction then I’d be interested in trying except a) they can’t have my work e-mail address b) don’t have my own devboard to take pics of – that’s why I’d want one.

    The LPCXpresso is a generally nice gadget though. The free (as in beer) dev environment is a derivative of Eclipse although when using it I’ve found it a bit crashy. Never used vanilla Eclipse so I don’t have much of a point of comparison. It seems a shame that the debug protocol is proprietary, however.

  18. You guys are putting words in their mouth, and not thinking creatively enough. The exact requirement is “Show us how you’ve broken the 8/16-bit habit by demonstrating what you would do with your old 8/16-bit board . Upload a picture or video, and we’ll send you a free LPCXpresso! It’s that simple.”
    I can think of several possibilities that don’t involve actually breaking your old board, that still meet the spirit of the challenge, and would leave you with working boards…
    Although I already picked up one of the lpc13xx series (CM3) LPCExpresso boards free at a ARM devlopment show. The “code red” development environment actually sounds pretty nice, and isn’t *that* crippled. Unlike mBed, the CodeRed stuff has debugging capabilities. (Alas, nearly all the jtag environments seem to have arranged to be moderately proprietary.)

  19. Will smashing a PIC count? Because I have tons of old already-dead PIC chips I could fry/burn/smash/cut/grind/melt.

    It’s either that, or take the main board out of my 10~ year old dead MP3 player or 12 year old cell phone and smash that as a ‘dev board’.

    I’m not frying my PICkit demo board or my Renesas RX6 board, and the rest of my micros are not on boards.

  20. Looking it over, I wouldn’t recommend bothering with this. It isn’t really free. Consider all the time you have to spend learning the toolchain which is limited and you will not be able to reuse unless you stay in their little system.

    It will cost you a lot less money in the long run just to learn an open/free toolchain and get a simple board.

    Unless you absolutely need nothing more than the M0 they are giving away’s features I’d stay far far away.

  21. “Why not give it a shot?”

    Because these guys are dicks. And if you support dicks, individually or as a company, you just get more dicks. I don’t care how much free crap I get for it I’m not going to do it and I don’t think anyone else should.

    These guys should study Paralax’s marketing. They have sent me samples for absolutely free. No strings, no expectations, no nothing. I didn’t even ask. And now they have a customer for life.

  22. @Bob D
    yes every company will give you a free sample
    they offer samples also

    this is nothing more than a fun way to advertise and spread the 32 bit world of MCUs and i bet there making a ton of money off the deal in the longrun … if i like the board they send me than im going to buy more and more

    its fun and you get something free from it … just because you dont wanna or you cant does not mean no one else should

  23. Sorry, but like many others I’ll pass. If this was something really good and they would for example give free boards to people who publish some awesome projects made with those chips – fine.

    But just asking people to smash their current tools and to make real idiots of themselves by doing so publicly – no, not worth it. My dignity isn’t THAT cheap…

  24. @biozz

    I am just saying it depends on how you value your time. I mean sure if you think it will be useful go for it. If you you say your time is worth even 7 dollars an hour than I would argue your would be better off getting a board for even 50 dollars if the skills you learn and tools you learn to use are more flexable.

    I would argue for ARM one should focus on: Crossworks, IAR/Keil, or generic GCC. CodeRed and Codesourcery are just GCC with some extras. Crossworks is cheap for non-commercial. IAR/Keil are well supported in industry. Generic GCC is totally free and good enough for a small group working.

  25. No where on the site does it say you need to destroy a competitors chip. It simple says that you should show what you would do with your old 8/16-bit if you were given a free 32-bit. You could take a photo of you putting your old dev board on a shelf and that would be sufficient.

  26. @Avaviel – No, it is like “I will send you a free bottle of fine microbrew beer if you smash a can of cheap beer with a sledgehammer and post the video so we can use it for our advertising.”

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