Sunday, December 2, 2012

TI Stellaris LaunchPad Workshop

First let me start off by saying that if you have the opportunity to go to a local TI event, do it! They are a great way to network and hear about TI products.

For those of you who don't know, I am currently a PhD student at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). This past Friday RIT hosted an ARM developer's day, where TI manned a both and held a workshop on the Stellaris LaunchPad. I not only learned a bit about TI's ARM products, but also met some great people, and managed to get a TI t-shirt! Very cool! Thank you TI!

The workshop was setup very nicely, each attendee had their own computer (for the most part) and a Stellaris LaunchPad to play with. The presentation was quite informative and discussed not only the history of ARM processors, but also the TI products which utilize ARM technology. Much of the information presented is available online at the TI wiki, more specifically under the "Getting Started with the Stellaris EK-LM4F120XL LaunchPad Workshop" page. It's very interesting what you can learn though when you go to these workshops in person.

One of the best parts of these workshops is that you get to hear about new and upcoming booster packs and development boards. The picture below shows the FRAM MSP430 development board with the CC3000 wifi module attached. The wifi module from TI has a built in ARM processor which runs all the stack software, allowing your embedded applications to use wifi via a serial connection (UART or SPI). I for one, am very excited for when TI releases this board.

Now onto the the Stellaris LaunchPad. After the presentation by two TI field application engineers, the workshop attendees were able to power up a Stellaris LaunchPad and use the demo software that came pre-installed on the board. Take a look at the picture below; it even comes with stackable headers (which you can't really see from this angle)!

Now why would you want to use a Stellaris LaunchPad? The main reason is that it is a more powerful processor, which is ARM based. The ARM processor on the Stellaris LaunchPad, the LM4F120, not only can be clocked at 80MHz but also has a full-speed integrated USB interface. This board will be great for project which require a high speed interface with a computer (did someone say RepRap?). Additionally, there are numerous serial ports, PWM pins, and other awesome peripherals including a high-speed 12-bit ADC. Before concluding, it is important to note that the Stellaris LaunchPad is pin compatible with the MSP430 LaunchPad; this means you can use your booster packs on the Stellaris LaunchPad as well!

While I am quite busy these days with my research, I plan on creating a few posts on getting started with the Stellaris Launchpad; more specifically I would like to port over the LaunchScope code to this board. This board has so much potential and I cannot wait to see all the cool projects that will utilize it in the future.

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