Even more updates

A few items of update. First off, TI has launched a new product, the MSP430 Launchpad.

[singlepic id=120 w=320 h=240 float=left]

The Launchpad is a $4.30 with free shipping dev board for TI’s MSP430 chip family. On the board there is USB which supplies power, and acts as the debugging emulator and the programmer for the chip, and then a nice 20 pin DIP socket for the MSP430 chips. The board breaks out all of the pins for the chip, and also has a spot for an external crystal. After a very frustrating, and long cursing at TI’s servers spurt, which lasted a good day as the Launchpad was so popular I finally got around to placing my order, however the backorder for the Board looks like I will have it around the end of July, start of August sadly. Hopefully I can find, and build a dev environment for the MSP430 on linux, seeing as there is a GCC port for it already all that is left is integrating it with Code::Blocks, and finding a way to upload the code to the MSP430.

Other goodies that I have received include a DS1077 I2C programmable digital oscillator breakout board from Sparkfun, and a MCP4725 I2C DAC breakout board, again from Sparkfun. With the DS1077 I hope to get code up and running for a simple USB interface that allows me to change the frequency the chip puts out easily, so i may later integrate it with a CPLD and a USB JTAG programmer.

In other news:

Summer hit and a thousand projects came out my ears, that is to say that none of them have gotten a firm start off the line. Of these there has been a simple o’scope that was built off a Atmega328 and FT232R with a wxpython interface. The Atmega would be a starting point to advance later on to an FPGA. For however much I liked the idea, I haven’t got anywhere besides the base GUI in python made, and the footprint in eagle for the BNC right-angle connector for the probe connection.

Another project which is a slow work in progress is a tutorial on working with the AVR PWM, which will use the Atmega328P and the Attiny45 as example chips for the registers. Expect to see this by the end of summer. :D

Finally I am currently in the process of making my own Atmega328 dev board because I am tired of my old, and well used proto-board Atmega328 dev board. This new board has most of the basics that I typically need when prototyping new setups:

  • All pins are broken out, headers for SPI, UART, and I2C/TWI
  • On board power supply with indicator LED, Fuse, Barrel Jack, Screw Terminals, filtering caps, diode protected, and extra outputs broken out
  • 2 tactile buttons
  • 2 trimmer potentiometers
  • reset button, with 10pf cap to make it Arduino compatible for anyone that needs it
  • 1 RBG LED, small smd in this case to save space and drill holes
  • 16MHz crystal in half can arrangement
  • 8 pole DIP switch, first four for power options and off micro options, last 4 hooked up to microcontroller pins

Half the board will be made up of SMD components, or PTH components that have been modified for SMD style soldering, this way space and the number of holes needed to be drilled are kept down. The drilling of the holes is not a problem with my drill press, however after several hundred holes for components and vias, the task becomes a boring job (pun intended).

I am also working on making the board as etching friendly as possibly, and will get to try out my transparencies for my laser jet that I just bought, for toner transfer. This means that I will try to make all the pads larger, and the same for vias, along with trying to keep the amount of vias that need to be drilled and connected to a minimum. The board will be a double sided board however, to fit everything on in a small space, and fit all surface mount components on the top side.

Feel free to comment on anything here, and if you have any suggestions for my Dev board, please comment them as any and all suggestions will be considered.

Launchpad image credit: TI