So, the project I am working on needs to send data at fairly quick rates to the PC over a USB interface, and is going to need a USB solution somewhat soon. I need something cheap, easy, and with a fast data throughput (along the order of 5Mbps or so). FTDI devices are nice, I've worked with them before but I never have gotten the devices working that fast (at least easily and reliably). Since I need such a fast throughput, UART and I2C were out of the question, I decided to look for other solutions than FTDI.
I want to keep this post short, so I will get to my point. I bought the zif socket for the 5xx chip I was planning on playing with soon. I was really was not looking forward to doing the dead bug technique thing, or making a board specifically to prototype this small SMT device. For $75 this devices has a ZIF socket, which for those who don’t know is like a DIP socket, but way easier to use and you have less of a problem with LEADs. The big benefit here is that you DON'T need to solder the SMT device (which is quite difficult to do without the correct tools or some ingenuity), this is great news! I can even try out different devices that come in the same package. The board comes with two MSP430F5528 chips.
Here's the real kicker and why I'm writing about it in my LaunchPad blog. THE LAUNCHPAD CAN PROGRAM IT!!! (I hope) Theoretically the device is supported by the LaunchPad, but before looking at the socket board’s schematic I thought I would have to wire something up myself from some output pins. Turns out the device not only has a USB connector soldered on with ALL the supporting hardware, including an anti ESD device (WOW!), but it also has the 6 pin header for SBW! So you guessed it, I ordered another LaunchPad while I was at it (the underlying reasons why I got another one are a bit complicated and not technical).
So before I end I want to leave you all with an important concept my Dad thought me when I was young (which I ignore sometimes we all do with certain things). Do your research, before you buy anything no matter how inexpensive it is. Can you use what you want to buy? Will it do what you expect? There's nothing worse than buying a $50 board or even a $4.30 board that you expect to do something and it doesn't. Sometimes it's not even about the money but more about the time you wasted. Time is money after all, right? So to make sure I was getting something I could work with and use I read all the white papers TI had on the chips that came with the board, and the board itself before I decided to buy it, and I recommend that you all do that before buying anything. Here's an example of one interesting article I read about the 5xx device and USB. A future blog will talk about how to read data sheets and make sense of all this nonsense companies put in their files.
A bit about what I plan on doing with this board and what you all can plan on seeing from me in the future. First I plan on getting the new chip and board I ordered up and running with the LaunchPad and doing all the first basic "hello world" programs to test the buttons, LEDs, and whatnot. I will also be setting up a simple program which uses the USB device such as a simple mouse or keyboard eventually, which will build up over time to a fully fledged (hopefully at 12Mbps) data streamer. I will then talk about how I will interface this into my current project. It goes without saying that I will be providing code, schematics (where applicable), and discussing any problems I faced while doing this. I might even describe a bit of theory if I can do it without being too boring.
So, the next post will most likely be about ADCs and Aliasing. If not, that post will come eventually. Also, I have set up FeedBurner to monitor the feeds for this blog; please let me know if you guys have any problems with this from an end user perspective since I've never used it before. As always, more comments! :-P
If I get up to 100 subscribers I will make a Twitter, or something else cool for everyone, maybe a forum or some kind of competition with prizes even, if this gets big enough. It’s well on its way! Thanks everyone for hanging in there so far (speaking of which, so much for my "short" post) while we wait for our LaunchPads. After all, that’s what we are all here for. Applications and projects using the LaunchPad will be coming soon. Promise.