RoadTest: TI Hercules TMS570LS04 LaunchPad
Evaluation Type: Independent Products
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?:
What were the biggest problems encountered?:
Lately, I have started to take interest in electronics, largely thanks to the Ben Heck Show. From there I heard about the Roadtest program and applied for this piece of hardware. TI Hercules TMS570LS04x LaunchPad is my very first hands on experience with any microcontroller, so don't expect any in-depth technical review. However, as a software developer some concepts are still familiar to me and the name "launchpad" implies that this hardware is suitable for beginners. I give some comments on the quickstart guide and Project 0.
Just some pictures to start with:
First, the quick start guide starts with instructions on how to install Code Composer Studio (CCS). This means downloading a 1.2 GB installer, wich seems like too much for a "quick start". The CCS itself is based on Eclipse IDE, and thus the learning curve may be a little too steep for someone who hasn't seen it before. Luckily, I have used it for Java and some other programming languages.
The first practical thing mentioned in the quick start guide is that you can push the GIO7 button to toggle the GIO2 LED. Yep, this works (see the left hand side image below). Secondly, you can inject an oscillator fault by connecting the OCSIN to GND. Indeed, closing the JP1 jumper lights up the Error LED in the corner (see the right hand side image below).
Next, I downloaded the Hercules Safety MCU demos from http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/Hercules_LaunchPad (113 MB)
I started with Safety Features Demo, which basically lets you run CPU and memory self-tests and induce various errors to test the Error Signaling Module (ESM). The LED Light Show is also pretty cool, allowing you to use a slider to control the brightness if the NHET08 LED (via PWM). There is also a "Run Premade Show" button that demonstrates PWM on GIOA2 and NHET08 LEDs (see the left hand side video below). Thirdly, there is a Ambient Light Demo that shows the amount of ambient light detected by the board (see the right hand side video below).
According to the quick start guide, the next step is to try "Project 0" that guides you through the process of generating PWM to blink NHET08 LED. In addition to CCS which I already had by thet time, I had to download HalCoGen (Hercules Peripheral Drivers Library) (127 MB) and install it. To actually start with Project 0, there are two options: you can either start with the project fron scratch or you can download and import a project into CCS. I chose to start from scratch so I could learn the tools a bit better.
Still, as I didn't know the tools well, I used a tutorial provided on the web page. It basically guides you throught whole process, but make sure you follow it carefully - I accidentally enbled the wrong PIN number and had to spend some time wondering why the project isn't working. Fortunately, on second try I got it right and...
Unpacking the board, I noticed that everything necessary is included in the package, e.g. a micro USB cable so you can really start right away. Another thing I really like are the rubber pads under the board, so I don't have to find any special surface to put it on.
Almost 1.5 GB of downloads seems like a little too much to make a LED blink. However, this is more a user experience issue and has nothing to do with the board itself. And I guess if I start doing my actual own project with this board then this setup may prove itself useful.