Author: Former Member
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?: - LM4F/TM4C - mbed FRDM boards
What were the biggest problems encountered?:
This is my first roadtest review, so I’m not quite sure what the general user here is looking for this review, but here goes! Please let me know if you have any questions.
My overall reaction to the MSP432 and CC3100 BP is very positive. The price point is fantastic and the board comes with a very nice set of peripherals. I was able to get the device up and running within 45 minutes out of the box with a simple flashing LED example. The getting started guides are fairly easy to find and follow and provide a solid starting point for new users.
I’ll be comparing the MSP432 Launchpad against several other microcontrollers centered around a similar price point and target user space. The first controller to look at was the precursor Launchpads: the LM4F Launchpad, the newer TM4C Tivaware Launchpad, and the MSP430 launchpad. The MSP430 is a very different controller even though the name hints otherwise. It is a very lower power, cheap, simple controller. The MSP432 has a significantly more advanced architecture, and a fairly different target use case (although low power is a center feature of both boards). The LM4F and TM4C Launchpads (primarily differing in the addition of hardware PWM and Quadrature encoders in the TM4C and the driver software switch from StellarisWare to TivaWare) are much closer in line with the MSP432, costing about the same and including a similar set of peripherals. Both boards are centered around the same ARM controller and come with a somewhat similar set of driver software. For those of you who have used StellarisWare or TivaWare in the past, the new library feels a bit more streamlined at first. allowing pin initializations to be done in a single line rather than initializing the clock register for the entire port first, then setting the pin type mux, direction, etc (not a huge difference, but a somewhat nice one I feel). I was (still am I guess) a huge fan of the LM4F/TM4C boards, I’ve used them extensively for the last 3 years for projects ranging from writing embedded RTOS’s, robotics applications, and general purpose messing around. For the price they are fantastic. This board comes at the same price point and offers just about everything I loved about the TM4C with some extra goodies tacked on (hardware AES modules. energy trace utilities).
You can compare this with Arduinos, but if you at least somewhat know C, this board is half the price and provides more functionality so I’d stick with this.
The other interesting line of products I’d like to point out are the ARM MBed boards versus the Launchpads. These are a very interesting, and relatively recent (within the last few years) line of microcontrollers being pushed out by ARM to sell their chip IP and advocate IoT solutions. They’re unique in their ease of use and online IDE concept. They have a very clever setup where the device appears as virtual drive when plugged in, allowing you to download a bin file from the online IDE and just drop it into the attached drive to program it. You can get a new MBed board and have it running within 10 minutes out of the box. The mbed library is very straight forward to use as well. The price range tends to be a bit higher, but they have products ranging from $15-$60+ with a variety of utilities and target applications. I’ve messed with the FRDM K64F and KL46Z and have had very good experiences with these boards. Where they run into some issues versus the MSP432 is ease of debugging (MSP432 was pretty easy to jump into debugging with). Since the mbed lines push the online IDE which cannot debug the boards you have to jump through some hoops. You can export projects into a huge variety of targets which is nice, including GCC, Keil, Zip files, etc. Keil 5 showed support for the K64F, although I ran into some problems getting it working I haven’t put too much effort into it yet. I was more interesting in Linux support, which was pretty easy to get due to the GCC export option. I was able to get PyOCD and GDB to work with the boards, but it was a fairly frustrating process at first and leaves quite a bit of streamlining to be desired. Overall between the mbed and launchpad line, I’m becoming a slightly larger mbed fan due to its very comprehensive library (interfaced to a Sonar incredibly quickly, PWM and serial were ridiculously easy to setup) but still love the MSP432 for it’s easy debugging and very low price point.
I’ve been working on a basic robotics library (Sonar, IR, and motor controller interfacing, PID controllers, etc) for the MSP432 and it’s been pretty simple so far to dive into. The CCB100 is a great device to compliment the MSP432 and allows for new avenues to explore that I’ve never much touched before in the embedded world. My goal was to interface a temperature sensor to the launchpad and hook it up to a new electric smoker I recently got. I would then be able to connect through WiFi to a home server that could text me updates and log temperature data (and in the future smoke levels ideally). Finding good documentation for the MSP432 and CCB100 together was a bit more difficult than I thought at first. The driver software for the CCB100 was very comprehensive and well formatted, but was largely focused at MSP430 devices and other board architectures. I got some basic examples working, but nothing much as of now (work started to catch up with me). I still need to look more into the wireless networking capabilities of the CCB100 with the MSP432 specifically, but it seems like a fairly cheap and powerful tool to add to the line of launchpad breakout boards.