A programmer is the device that physically connects a PC to the MSP430. The PC sends data to the programmer, and the programmer copies it into the flash memory of the MSP430 microchip. I know of no DIY MSP430 programmers. Fortunately, TI sells a complete programmer, debugger, and development board for only $20 (see below).
Newer MSP430s are programmed with the two wire SPY-BI-WIRE protocol, but older versions were programmed with a large JTAG interface. Some new, high pin count MSP430s support both the old JTAG interface and the new 2 wire protocol. This tutorial only applies to the new SPY-BI-WIRE devices.
The ez430 is a $20
debugger and development board that looks like a USB flash disk. It works with TI's IAR Kickstart
C compiler and development environment demo. The programmer connects to a tiny circuit board module with a real MSP430F2013 processor and LED. The standard board sports a F2013 with 16 bit ADC, but TI sells 3 packs of F2012 "target boards"
for a few bucks. The ez430 will program any MSP430 chip that supports SPY-BI-WIRE.
You can get a free ez430 at TI's MSP430 days. Check this website
to check for one near you. I got mine
at one of these events. Watch out though, mine was ruined when IAR Kickstart accidentally updated the firmware in the programmer - something that should never be done to the eZ430. It was irreparably ruined and I had to order a new programmer.
This is an expensive ($100) programmer and debugger
for the MSP430, but you usually get a code for 50% off at MSP430 day. This will also program the older JTAG chips, but we're not likely to encounter any of these.
There are a few of third party programmers for the MSP430. Most of them are really expensive, but the line of programmers from Olimex
is geared towards DIY'ers. The Olimex MSP430-JTAG -Tiny
is an inexpensive alternate to TI's MSP-FET430UIF (above) -- with the same features and compatible with the same applications.
A compilers and integrated development environments (IDEs) is simply an application that is used to write software. I'm familiar with three IDEs that can be used to write software for the MSP430 and program code into the chip. There are several third party compilers, but those listed below have free or limited versions that work great for DIY projects. The IAR compiler, for example, is limited to 4K -- but that's twice the program space of the F201X chips!
This is the demo
compiler, debugger, and development environment that comes with the ez430 programmer. It's a self contained environment for writing code in C, compiling it, and programming it to a MSP430. It can also control code execution in a prototype chip - this helps hunt down problems in complicated programs. This is a fairly nice and reliable way to work with the MSP430. Watch out, though, if it asks you to update the firmware on your ez430 USB stick, DON'T LET IT
The IAR compiler is quite expensive, and the demo is limited to 4K. If you run into that limit, you'll probably turn to the next program.
This is an open source compiler
for the MSP430 based on the famous GCC compiler. It's accompanied by a complete tool chain that includes a programming and debugging application that works with the MSPFET and the ez430.
These tools can all be combined, with heroic effort, into the Eclipse development environment
. This is a bit like bolting a text editor onto a compiler and debugger yourself, rather than giving IAR the privilege. I successfully followed these directions
to install MSP/GCC and integrate the tool chain into Eclipse under Cygwin on MS Windows. It worked great for standard equipment, but lacked support for some modern MSP430s. That isn't quite true - the changes were present in the code but not the compiled version. It should be significantly easier to setup and compile under Linux.
Code Composer Essentials
CCE is TI's own compiler and debugging environment for the MSP430. The demo version
will compile unlimited assembly code, but only 8K of C code. This is the MSP430 equivalent of Microchip's MPLAB. Historically, CCE has been fairly unloved
, but it looks like a new version is available.
Taking it further
What do you do with a 16 bit low-power microcontroller? The MSP430 is popular among educational institutions because of the inexpensive development kit. Power conservation features also make it quite popular in the field of wireless sensor networks.
Next week, I'll show you how to use the MSP430's 16 bit pulse width modulator (PWM) to play audio files. The following week we'll record audio with the 12/16 bit analog to digital converter (ADC) and complete the digital audio recorder prototype. Finally, we'll look at how to turn the prototype circuit into a talking picture frame or stealth digital recorder.
TI has a host of training materials
for the MSP430.
Probably the best source for help is the archive at the Yahoo MSP430 group
TI maintains a list of discussion groups