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?: ZigBee Shield for Arduino
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Programming the MSP430 proved to be impossible on my PC with my limited knowledge.
I understand that this Review is extremely late in relation to the expected date, but would still like to provide my experience using the supplied equipment.
I would like to apologise to both Anaren and to element14 for the lateness of this review. All untested fields are left as a 5 as they are not the fault of Anaren.
As a newcomer to the MSP430, I was quite excited to get my hands on and experiment with the hardware provided by element14. I hope this review provides a fair portrayal of my experiences using the AIR BoosterPack.
The AIR BoosterPack appears to be extremely well made, and great care seems to have been taken in the BoosterPack's construction. The inclusion of a small prototyping area on the BoosterPack is a welcome inclusion for experimenters and amateurs such as myself, and could aid in minimising required space for a wireless project. The Headers on my BoosterPack units were extremely well aligned and fit onto the interface of the MSP430 board with ease and provided excellent clearance from all components on the MSP430 debugging board, accomodating clearance not only for the components on the BoosterPack, but also fair clearance for any future additions to the protoboard. The screenprinted labels on the BoosterPack are relatively easy to read, although a thinner font on some of the smaller labels (such as for the outputs on the Anaren LR09A module) could be more appropriate. Pictures below taken on my camcoder, please excuse the poor quality.
The demonstration software included with the MSP430 Debug boards was the standard temperature monitor included with all MSP430 boards, and was not the Anaren Firmware that was expected. After downloading CCS and updating all drivers, the "Error initializing emulator: Could not find MSP-FET430UIF on specified COM port" error popped up when debugging. The board appeared as a device within CCS. After disabling all other COM ports, resintalling drivers and software several times I was still unable to correctly debug the Anaren Firmware to the MSP430. I tried the Elprotronics 3rd Party software that was highly reccomended and It was unable to locate the Debugging Board at all. Again I will state that this is of no fault of Anaren and is a concequence of the instability of the MSP430 drivers provided by Texas Instruments. As I do not have any other PC's to debug the board with I was unable to pursue flashing the firmware any further. My OS is Windows 7 64-bit and my PC is a Toshiba Qosmio PQF75A-04600Q.
The Anaren AIR BoosterPack is a well constructed wireless module that is plagued by the buggy drivers provided by Texas Instruments. I sincerely hope that programming the MSP430 in order to use the AIR BoosterPack does not plague any other poor soul as much as it has me over the past months, as the Anaren AIR BoosterPack shows considerable promise.
The Anaren AIR BoosterPack
Size comparison with an Arduino UNO R3
Solder Joints on the Headers appear to be extremely well soldered and uniform
Close-Up of the screen printed labels, note the thickish font on the smaller sized labels to the left
The BoosterPack on an MSP430 Debug Board
BELOW: Plenty of clearance for extra components