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DiY IoT: Working with CC3200 microcontroller

Posted: 12 Oct 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Internet of Things? IoT? microcontrollers? Texas Instruments? CC3200?

Welcome to this series! My name is Andrey Katsman, and I invite you to enjoy this first in a series of articles exploring several Internet of Things-oriented microcontrollers and project ideas, my reviews and opinions about emerging technologies, and all things embedded. In my daily life, I work for Canary, one of the coolest companies out there. Canary develops smart home security solutions, and as the head of our excellent embedded team, my engineers and I work together to bring hardware to life.

In this first article, we will explore the possibilities stored within the Texas Instruments CC3200 microcontroller and use it in the form of a LaunchPad board. We will discuss different aspects of this board and work through some detailed experiments.

I have picked this board to start with because I find its capabilities and ease of use quite fascinating. Among other things, it is not very expensive for hobby use, it is effortlessly battery powered (which takes away a lot of pain that normally goes into properly connecting boards), and it is Wi-Fi enabled.

Today, we will begin with an introduction to the board, its technical specifications, and a glimpse of development environments. In the following posts, we will get familiar with the development environment, learn how to program the board, and begin looking at different small projects. We will keep first ones fairly simple and will explore the use of on-board sensors; later, we'll transition to more complex applications with deeper possibilities.

So, without further ado, let's meet the LaunchPad (figure 1).

Figure 1: This is the TI CC3200 in the form factor of a development board: "SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3200 LaunchPad".

The board is roughly the size of the palm of my hand, making it very convenient to place in a project box or, if you were to use it in something like a smart aquarium project, even glue directly to the back side of a container. It comes with:

???CC3200 Wi-Fi MCU (ARM Cortex-M4 at 80 MHz): Faster than most small MCU's and Wi-Fi ready, so there's no need for extra modules!
???FTDI chip, JTAG headers: Allows you to connect, debug, and program directly from your PC USB port.
???S-Flash 8 Mbit chip: So you can store some extra information
???On-chip Wi-Fi antenna and U.FL connectors: No need to worry about signal, and it even lets you do conducted emissions testing!
???2x20 pin headers: Plenty of room for expansions, GPIOs and more, and compatible with TI extension shields.
???Two programmable buttons, one reset button, and three user-controllable LEDs: Begin experimenting without connecting a single piece of hardware.
???Thermopile temperature sensor (TMP006) and a tri-axial accelerometer (BMA222): An extra surprise to play with or use in a project without any additional effort.
(As we move along, I will try to do a more in-depth overview of each of the relevant components. For now, I will just say this is a pretty neat little package!)

What I find especially convenient is that the board comes completely ready for development and can be powered in several waysfrom a USB port (which is especially helpful during development since it offers a way to interact with and program the board), any 5V USB power supply, or two AA or AAA batteries. (In fact, it will keep working until batteries reach 2.3 volts.) Since the board also provides us with the convenience of a pre-installed voltage regulator for USB power and reverse current protector for battery power connection, this means we need not put extra effort into creating a completely independent battery-operated Wi-Fi device!

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