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The digital audio recorder will use a MSP430 F2012 or F2013. Both have useful hardware modules, like a pulse-width modulator (PWM) to generate sound, an analog to digital converter (ADC) to capture audio from a microphone, and a hardware communication module (SPI) to communicate with external memory chips. They're also fast (16 MHz), cheap ($1), and very low power.

F2012 and F2013 target boards are available for the ez430 development kit. You can get started on this project with a full programmer, debugger, and development board for $20. You'll still need the extra parts described in this article, but the development kit can make life easier if you're worried about working with surface mount components. The both MSP430 models are also available as a through-hole parts.

If you want to know more about basic MSP430 connections and programming, read last week's primer on the MSP430.

The MSP430 pulse-width modulator

The MSP430 has a 16 bit PWM. This could be used to play 16 bit resolution audio, a vast improvement over most previous 8 bit microcontroller audio projects.

The MSP430 PWM has a ton of modes. I'm sure they're all super useful, but we just want a standard pulse without the fancy stuff. To do this on the MSP430, I set the following registers:

CCTL1 = OUTMOD_6; // Mode 6 is toggle/set
CCR0 = 0xFE; // 16 bit PWM Period, use period-1 for MC_1(up counter)
TACTL = MC_1; // Timer A MC_1 mode counts up to the value in CCR0, resets

The PWM output signal can be enabled on three different pins. This is handy, but it can also be really confusing. I designated pin P2.6 for the audio PWM output. P2.6 is also used for an optional 32.768khz watch crystal. The crystal oscillator circuitry on the pins must be disabled before using the PWM output. This isn't documented very well in the MSP430 datasheets, read more in this forum post.

BCSCTL3|=LFXT1S1+LFXT1S0; //enable PWM output on P2.6, disable oscillator.
//.........................................................//now there are limitations on VLO....

This was a real pain to figure out. I don't usually include these details in an article, but I hope this info will now be easily accessible to anyone facing a similar problem in the future.

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MSP430 audio prototype(click thumbnails to view gallery)

Audio filter exampleMSP430 audio prototype circuitMSP430 audio prototype renderingMSP430 audio prototype PCB placementMSP430 audio prototype bare PCB



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