$20 MCU development tool

By Control Engineering Staff March 9, 2006

Texas Instruments’ eZ430 development tool for ultra-low-power MCUs includes a removable target board (right) with fully accessible pins and LED.

Texas Instruments Inc . announced in mid-February the availability of its Z430-F2013 development tool that allows new users to evaluate TI’s MSP430 MCU architecture in minutes plus, for the first time, provides experienced developers all resources they need to complete an MSP430F20xx project. Described as “the world’s smallest complete microcontroller (MCU) development and evaluation tool available for just $20,” eZ430 tool comes in a compact Universal Serial Bus (USB) stick form factor. (MSP430F2013 MCU is part of TI’s recently introduced MSP430F20xx series product, operating at up to 16 MIPS.)

Self-powered eZ430-F2013 tool connects to a standard USB port, requiring no extra cables or power supplies. It’s intended for dual roles of emulation and development as it contains an emulation interface board and an easy-to-remove MSP430F2013 target board (see photo). This differentiates eZ430 from other fixed-function evaluation systems. Using TI’s innovative Spy bi-wire debug interface, only two signals—power and ground—are needed to connect the emulation interface and target, enabling very compact, high-performance MCU development in a low-cost environment, says TI.

eZ430 tool eliminates costly, time-consuming intermediate steps because its emulation board communicates smoothly with in-system emulation logic of MSP430 MCU target devices, and provides the same electrical characteristics as the final application. The emulation board uses a TI TUSB3410 for its USB interface and a TPS77301 to provide 3-V regulation to the system. The target board makes all 14 MSP430F2013 pins available on an industry standard 0.1 in. though-hole header and includes an LED for immediate development feedback, according to TI.

The new tool includes a free IAR Kick Start Embedded Workbench IDE (integrated development environment) containing a debugger, assembler, and C compiler. It’s the same IDE used for all MSP430 MCUs, meaning that designers can leverage existing code and expertise. In addition, more than 100 free source-code examples (in C and assembler languages) are available from TI’s Web site.

Highlighted by TI at the recent Embedded World 2006 expo in Germany, eZ430-F2013 tool is available for $20 and can be ordered from the TI e-store at https://www.ti.com/ez430.

There is even a more economical way to obtain this tool: It will be given free to attendees at the 4th annual “430 Day”—a free, three-hour “lunch-and-learn event” to be held at more than 100 locations worldwide starting in May 2006. The event also will provide detailed overview of MSP430 ultra-low power architecture and application solutions, new product updates, and eZ430 demonstrations. Click here to register and learn more about 430 Day.

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering fbartos@reedbusiness.com