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USB stick tool eases wireless MCU development

Posted: 26 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MCU development tool? wireless communications? flash memory? RF transceiver?

Texas Instruments Inc. has announced a new tool for designing embedded systems that combines ultralow-power MSP430 MCU with wireless communications. At $49, TI's eZ430-RF2500 development tool, packaged in a convenient USB stick form factor, offers two RF-enabled MCUs target boards and a PC debugging interface that may be used to develop standalone wireless projects. Developers will now find it easier than ever to build low-power wireless systems for sensing and metering, home security and automation, medical and other innovative applications

The eZ430-RF2500 builds on the success of TI's eZ430-F2013 development tool, introduced in early 2006. The eZ430-RF2500 opens up new possibilities for low-power designs combined with wireless communications. Backwards-compatible with the F20xx target boards, which have been sold separately since late 2006, the eZ430-RF2500 provides continuity for enhancing existing designs.

Complete, affordable solution
According to TI, the eZ430-RF2500 development tool provides all the hardware and software needed to program the MSP430 MCU and the low-power RF 2.4GHz transceiver on the postage stamp-sized target board. The eZ430-RF2500 tool provides a complete solution for writing code and operating and testing the application in the field.

The USB stick development interface plugs into a PC port with no additional driver software and connects directly to an MCU-RF target board, the eZ430-RF2500T. Two target boards are included in the eZ430-RF2500 kit, providing the developer with the essentials of a wireless network. A battery pack (AAA), also included in the kit, enables a target board to operate as a standalone system. Standard through-hole pin connectors make it easy for external components or existing systems to attach to the target board. Features of the target board include two programmable LEDs to display activity, a programmable toggle button for interface and an integrated zero-power brownout detector that resets the MSP430 when power drops.

An MSP430F2274 MCU and a CC2500 RF transceiver, both from TI, are integrated in the eZ430-RF2500T target board. The MSP430F2274 MCU, based on a 16bit RISC architecture, can handle generous amounts of code and data with its 32Kbytes of flash memory and 1Kbyte of RAM. The MSP430F2274 also features high performance, integrated analog such as a 12-channel 10bit ADC that samples at up to 200KSps. Other on-chip peripherals include two operational amplifiers and support for UART, SPI, I?C and IrDA communications. The MCU offers five low-power modes for maximum power efficiency and features an ultrafast wake-up from standby mode in less than 1?s. The CC2500 is a highly-integrated multichannel RF transceiver designed for low-power wireless applications in the 2.4GHz ISM band. It has an automated packet engine and supports data rates from 1.2-500Kbps.

The eZ430-RF2500 kit comes with all the software needed to program wireless MSP430 applications, and the USB development interface provides the required hardware for emulation and debugging on the target board. The user can choose either the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE or TI's Code Composer Studio Essentials IDE to write and download code, then debug the application at full speed using hardware breakpoints and single stepping, consuming no extra hardware resources. The kit's software includes a protocol stack for low-power RF networks and hardware abstraction layers (HAL) enabling the rapid design and prototyping of wireless systems. In addition, the kit includes a complete example project, measuring temperature and voltage through a wireless sensor network. Full documentation for the tool and software is also included.

The eZ430-RF2500 development tool and eZ430-RF2500T target boards will be available in October. Pricing per unit is $49 for the eZ430-RF2500 tool. Additional eZ430-RF2500T target boards can be ordered in Q4 for $20.

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