Texas Instruments - Launchpad: The new approach to innovative developement in microcontrollers

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Texas Instruments has been working in manufacturing of discrete electronics since a very long time. It manufactures almost all electronic components from comparators to microcontrollers.

A few years back Texas Instruments(TI) launched a new 8-bit microcontroller development platform for hobbyists and new learners. This platform was very low cost and came with basic set of tools to start developing small embedded projects. It was called "The LaunchPad".
Initially an MSP-430 based development board was launched which was priced at $2.99!!
Recently TI has expanded the "Launchpad" line to include boards with C2000 and ARM Cortex Series processors. There are also some new development boards with special interface like USB and Wifi. 
There are also a number of plug-in modules available to extend the functionality of your LaunchPad. TI calls these plug-in modules "Booster Packs". There are Booster Packs available for Alphanumeric LCDs, capacitive touch, motors drives and a number of different sensors.
The Launchpad products come with an open-source code editing tool called "Energia" and also TI's own "Code Composer Studio".

Here is an overview of the LaunchPad product line. 

MSP LaunchPads 
These ultra low power LaunchPads feature the MSP430 miconcontroller and are designed to be battery operated. 

C2000 LaunchPads 
The C2000 LaunchPads are designed for real-time processing applications. They can be used for 3-phase motor control.
Connected LaunchPads
These LaunchPads are for designs that require connectivity like Ethernet, USB and Wifi. They can be used for Internet-Of-Things (IoT) applications like home automation and smart energy. 
Hercules LaunchPads 
This series of LaunchPads is for use in development of safety critical equipments like industrial, automotive and medical devices. They feature ARM Cortex processors with lock-step cores and other safety features.

Here is a link to TI's LaunchPad brochure and website. 

Happy hacking!!



Wireless Door Unlock (TI ZigBee+Accelerometers)

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I came across this project by some university students for the TI Ultra low power challenge.
They have used a special wrist watch which contains a TI ZigBee wireless device and accelerometers. They send the unlock code by tapping on the wrist, this tapping is interpreted by the accelerometer, then encrypted by the ZigBee device and transmitted. Another ZigBee device is present inside the door lock, which decodes the encrypted unlock code sent by the watch and then activates the servo to open the lock.

PonyProg 2000 Software for AVR Flash memory

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PonyProg is a great software for flash memory programming. It supports a great variety of microcontrollers and other devices. Before using it you should check if your device is supported on the Official PonyProg 2000 Homepage. PonyProg 2000 is constantly updated and new devices are added.

AVR Development boards

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A microcontroller Development Board is a generic printed circuit board(PCB), not meant for any specific application. It usually has an interface for programming the microcontroller's flash memory, connectors for the microcontroller's I/O ports, LED banks to show the status of the I/O ports, a reset switch and a serial port or some other comm. port for talking to the outside world. But all this is optional and you can add or remove anything from it depending on your needs or application. Development Boards are very important for hobbyists and small projects.

ISP Flash Memory Programmer for AVR using Parallel port

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AVR flash memory programmers are easy to build and one programmer can program a virtually program all series and types of AVR devices. This universal compatibility is because of the ISP (In-System Programmable) feature incorporated in almost all AVR devices.