I was suprised when I saw that TI had a programmer for $4.30, since all of their other programmers were closer to $100 than $10. The important thing to note about this programmer, is that is supports Spy-Bi-Wire (also known as 2-Wire JTAG or SBW), and not the full 4-Wire JTAG programming interfaces. This is important to note, as such not all MSP430s will be supported by this board.
I use the MSP430F2013 which uses the SBW and found the programmer while I was looking for a replacement for my ez430. It took a bit of research to find out which devices can be programmed using SBW since the TI website does not have updated information in all of its data sheets, after all they do have what seems to be thousands of chips all with datasheets. Anyways, my research let me to believe that the LaunchPad will be able to program my MSP430F2013.
For future development in my project I will need a more powerful microcomputer with a USB interface to do some signal processing on the data captured by my little microcomputer and send it to a computer. This is an important part of developing even if its for a hobby project. Please, I beg you, think ahead as to where you would like to take your project. There's nothing worse than having a cool idea that you want to expand, and then needing to start completely over with a new chip or instruction set in order to implement your new ideas; the flip side though is that you should not think too far ahead, or you will never get anything built. This is something I struggle with constantly. That being said, I saw the new upcoming MSP430F550x devices which have a ton of I/O pins and a USB interface built in. This is huge news for me! Soon I hope to use this in my project.
Well, it was important for me to find a cheap programmer to program my current microcomputer and also be able to program more powerful chips in the same family (MSP430). Turns out the LaunchPad will be able to program the new F550x chips! It took me a bit of searching to find this on TIs website, but here it is. See Table 2-1 on page 16 and 17 of this datasheet. All the devices that have the X under 2-Wire JTAG (see note 1 which makes it clear this is the same thing as the SBW). Great news! A ton of devices are supported, and it seems as if any new MSP430s that TI comes out with will use this interface (don't take this as fact though, its just speculation).
Its important when you know a chip family line well that there are a multitude of chips to work with and play with. This means that your code is easily portable from one chip to another and that pin-outs are also mostly the same (mostly)
SO...now into what I assume will be true about this board. TI has not released its official User Guide for this devices yet, just a quick start guide, and as such I do not know the inner details of the device. After looking at the pin-outs of the board and the processors that are supported, I see no reason why I can't just plug my F2013 into the DIP socket and program away. The pin-outs seem to be exactly the same. I will be testing this right after I get the LED Blink working on the chips that came with the board. If not, I see a 6 pin header on the right side that looks like it would match perfectly with the ez430 development board. We shall see.
All I really have found as far as the community goes is a Google group TI Launchpad that was just started for the LaunchPad. If anyone knows of any links, comment away. Let's make this blog more like a conversation than a bunch of speeches from me.
More coming once I learn more about the programmer. Stay tuned.
Edit: In case there was any confusion the ez430 can not program all of the SBW devices, only the F2xx series; as such the F5xx is not supported by the ez430. If anyone has verified that the LaunchPad can really program the 5xx series, please post here and let everyone know. I think it will based on the wording on the Wiki.