RoadTest: TI Hercules TMS570LS04 LaunchPad
Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: null
What were the biggest problems encountered?: The TI website is a bit difficult to navigate, eventually ended up on the site for software http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/Download_CCS Many pages/links on the TI website are dead, or sites are down. Code composer would not install as one of the installation files was corrupted and installer was unable to recover from this error.
The TI Hercules TMS570Ls04x/03x arrived, it was package in a little box containing the dev board and a USB cable. These were the hardware requirements needed to get the board running. The remaining components (the software bits) had to be downloaded from the TI website. The TI code composer development suite is what you need to program this board. You can acquire this software for free from the TI wiki (http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/Download_CCS). You have the possibility to download the software for windows or Linux, sorry no Mac version (but whats new there). So, after you've registered and signed up for a lifetime of TI spam. You are hit with a page in which you promise not to use this software to make anything illegal. Gee its a launchpad, not going to happen. So eventually, the download begins.
The box and it contents (USB A to USB-mini cable not shown, but included).
So while the software downloads lets talk about some of the launchpads features.
Even thought the processor on this board is an industry harden core tuned to the automotive industry and safety critical applications, the dev board favors itself more to a hobbyist market, but could still be suitable for the hardcore industry prototypers.
So back to the software that just finished downloading. In my experience TI doesn't aim there software at the beginner level, so that may be the biggest hurdle to overcome for the electronic newbie. The installer for code composer doesn't explain much during the installation. The installer is generic and covers the entire range of TI products. Finding the launchpad (TMS570LS04) on this list of possible platforms is difficult. I just installed every platform available (the installer doesn't specifically mention the launchpad, but it has to be one of these options). The TI website also hints that you will require a driver from the TI site (http://www.ti.com/tool/launchxl-tms57004). Download this and install it if things don't seem to work. So clicking through the installer doing a full installation produces another series of problems. The installer I downloaded is nothing more than a remote installer and now it plans to backup the TI site to my PC.
It is worth mentioning that the the TI supported IDE is not the only IDE that supports this platform. It is recommended that you check out the element14 page on the TI Hercules Launchpad (http://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-54867/l/ti-hercules-launchpads-designed-for-safety-critical-applications--launchxl-tms57004-launchxl-rm42), it has a lot of useful links, including ones to the datasheets, supporting documents, and links to various supporting IDEs including the one by KEIL and the TI option.
Another great source of useful information is the TI Wiki, located at Hercules LaunchPad - Texas Instruments Wiki. The key features of this page includes links to various documents, and tutorials. A good place to start is with the tutorial called Project0, it is the Hello World equivalent of this board. If you can follow the steps outlined in this tutorial then you will be well on your way to building your own projects with this board. The first step required with project0 is to install the code composer (which was previously downloaded).
When installing Code Composer, the easiest option is to do a full install, clicking next and ticking accept is all that is required. It then begins what can only be described as a lengthy installation process. Or if you just want the bare essentials, then chose a custom installation and just chose the safety MCU option. A month ago I attempted to install Code COmposer but it would even start the installation process. This time it happily installs for 10 minutes then fails.
At this point I give up on this platform. It is a shame as it seemed like such a great board. An issue has been logged with TI and pending the outcome this review may yet be completed.
The rating was based on my expectation, which would have changed should my opinion have changed once I was given the chance to use it properly. So now based on your opinion I have given the product a poor rating that is more than likely to increase once the the dev software downloads and I have a proper chance to trail it.
I have a colleague who uses this platform as a teaching platform, so my expectations were based on his experience.
Correction, this is NOT aimed at the hobbyist market, at ALL. This is a Safety/Automotive microcontroller, specifically designed for high-stress environments (heat, humidity, etc). You really should have taken that into account when writing your review!!! Like how can you possibly give it 55/60 if you didn't even get a chance to use it?!?!?!?
Have you managed to download the IDE and compiler as yet?