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?: MSP430 Launchpad, EXP430F5438.
What were the biggest problems encountered?: - TI somehow managed to supply the kit with bad pinhead connectors between programmer/debugger and the target board. This resulted in random resets, bad programming and various unpredicted results. - The demo application, which use virtual com port to connect to the kit preloaded with demo software, wasn't able to connect to the kit, which had port COM28. The software demo did not work at all.
The packaging was the same as MSP430, but I've actually liked, that TI included that small 6 pin 90deg header for small boards like RF2500 kit. I didn't find such connector in MSP430 Launchpad. Secondly, this board is rich of RF boards connectors, so it is easy to interface the board to any other RF kit. There's also unpopulated 18pin header connector to connect to MSP430F5438 board, but I've found that this connector is compatible to RF2500 kit side connector. Power and SPI signals are routed the same, so it is possible to interface CC2500 chip directly to the microcontroller.
I really like the chip for its technology. The debugger starts way much faster than using G series microcontrollers, but I am not sure if it is really the cpu speed or just IAR software behaviour. What is more fun - You don't need to buy any software to develop with this board. TI offers a free CCS version with full support for this chip. The compiled binary is limited to 16kb, but who cares when the microcontroller memory is 16kb too.
As You may know, the chip has FRAM memory, so I am really surprised in terms of power consumption. I didn't do all the tests to measure the lowest consumption, but it's just eating a few microamps in low power mode! I can't wait to test this chip with SimpliciTI and CC2500.
The software part of the debugger is great. Since the kit is new, TI has probably uploaded the most recent version of firmware to the debugger side, so it will be possible to debug any chips in the future. Now the hardware part is really dumb. There are connectors to disconnect the kit microcontroller and connect Your own board to the debugger. This option would be really great, but they didn't leave GND pin on the connector, so for proper programming, You have to wire GND from somewhere else. Seriously, what did You think, TI engineers, when doing universal stuff?
I didn't try to write something, that is already mentioned here in reviews. Probably more critic side of the kit, but overall it's really great! When You can combine free software tools and such hardware, there's nothing more than doing fabulous projects of electronics.