Dev boards

Yee a new ‘toy’ has arrived. After waiting only 3 months to the day, a little carton box containing TI’s MSP430 Launchpad board finally found it’s way to my doorstep. It was cheap, comes with free tools and no shipping costs which is a huge pro if you just want to try a new product. No idea what to do with it yet, but I’m sure something fun can be made with it.

Also very nice are the extras. Apart from the nice box it comes in, it includes 2 controllers (2211 and the 2231 which has an USI and ADC), a 32.768 kHz crystal, headers and an USB cable. And to top it off there are 4 anti-slip pads beneath the PCB (it’s often in the small details). Kudos to TI!

Btw, this thing is actually sold below the actual cost of the parts. Just the 2 LQFP IC’s (a Serial-to-USB Converter and a 16-bit ULP MCU with 55kB Flash and 5120B RAM) are over $10 @1k units.

Speaking of dev boards, ST recently introduced a nice STM32 board. According to ST you can get one for under $10, but I haven’t seen those, not even at the distributors they link to. A more realistic value is €12,55 which boils down to $16,90 incl VAT at today’s exchange rate. Yes that’s right, 160% more than ST advertises with. Still not bad, but saying it’s under $10 is just a big lie.

Anyhow, I’m thinking of getting 1, mainly for quick testing. Right now the Futurlec board and some chips is all I’ve got, which is a bit of a pain when you quickly want to swap boards for some simple testing. Besides that I’m looking forward to giving that ST-link thing a try.

The downside is that ST throws up some barriers. You can only buy the board through big distributors, which for us Europeans means you’re screwed as a private person. These distributors won’t even talk to you unless you place a minimum order value which is way higher than the board alone. ST can learn a thing or two from TI when it comes to bringing their products to a wider audience.

Secondly the whole ST-link thing only comes with Windows software. However no surprise there given their complete lack of non-MS support previously. A bit of a downer, but no show stopper.

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