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Getting Started with TI LaunchPads: Coding and Much More...

Energia Reference page

     
           
     

Introducing the TI LaunchPad Platform

     
     

TI LaunchPads are microcontroller development kits from Texas Instruments. They come in a variety of flavors to address various project needs. All LaunchPad kits include everything needed to begin developing applications in minutes, priced from $USD9.99 to $USD19.99. That's right - Blink LEDs and spin motors, all for less than $USD20. These units can be the basis for everything from simple coding to connecting a variety of sensors and other peripherals. They are easily programmed via USB from Mac or PC, and can be linked to BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) modules, and even wifi to send and receive data both locally and remotely.

The main LaunchPad that we will be using here is the MSP-EXP432P401R, a fast (48MHz) and powerful unit with multi-tasking capabilities, a reset and two general purpose switches, as well as two LEDs. Also covered here will be the MSP-EXP4305529 board, and the wifi-enabled CC3200 LaunchPad.

The main focus of the introductory lessons which follow will be on writing simple code to control the MSP43x boards, first using USB connection with Mac or PC, and then via BLE. As shown above, the Grove Base BoosterPack unit provides a quick and easy way to connect multiple modules and sensors (including the Grove BLE module) but jumper leads can work just as well!

MSP432 LaunchPad with Grove BLE (with and without Grove Base BoosterPack)

The lessons assume no prior knowledge of coding to boards such as the LaunchPads - they follow my own first faltering steps in this direction. After the first few lessons, they will assume some familiarity with the Lua tutorials (including the BLE section) for creating Lua documents that will serve to interface with the LaunchPads using the TI-Nspire iPad Apps.

There are two components to working with the LaunchPads and TI-Nspire - writing a "sketch" to the LaunchPad, which tells it how to respond to commands, and creating the Lua-based TI-Nspire document that will read from and write to that sketch. To create and send the sketch we create, we will use a free open-source-based software tool called Energia.

     

MSP432 LaunchPad

MSP430-F5529 LaunchPad

CC3200 Connected LaunchPad (wifi)

     
    

So, let's get started! You will need to:

  • Buy a LaunchPad or two (preferably an MSP432, but if you already have an MSP430 or other MSP board, these should work as well.) You can purchase these directly from TI or from a local supplier.

  • Download Energia for your platform (OS X, Windows, Linux), and install. Take note of the >>Installation<< instructions on the download page (just after the latest download links). You will need to install drivers for your platform.

  • Find a local supplier (or use eBay) to purchase some jumper leads and (optionally) alligator clips. You should be able to get a bunch of these for under $10. I have found that the male/female jumpers (as shown) have been the most useful, but it would not hurt to have a few of each type.

  • Later you will need a BLE module and a sensor or two - I have used the Grove units for these tutorials, and will be referring to these. Others may be used (and may save you quite a few dollars), but you will need to accommodate inevitable differences as they arise.

     

Energia IDE


Jumper leads


Alligator clips


  

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