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Experimenting with the MSP430

Low-cost development system with a USB interface

Experimenting with the MSP430

Texas Instruments supplies handy USB evaluation sticks with related software for its low-cost MSP430 controllers. Unfortunately the I/O facilities are somewhat limited. These can be substantially enhanced with the help of the experimenter’s board described here. This combination forms the hardware basis for a mini-course ‘Starting with embedded C’, which can be found elsewhere in this issue.

Sometimes several initiatives converge at just the right time to create a new concept. For some time Rotterdam University had been looking for a low-cost development system for its students in Automotive and Electronic Engineering, which could be put to use in microcontroller tuition. In addition, for logistical reasons Elektor was looking for a more practical replacement for the very popular E-blocks for its Embedded C Programming workshops. So both Rotterdam University and Elektor were effectively looking for the same thing, although for different reasons.

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Gerber file

CAM/CAD data for the PCB referred to in this article is available as a Gerber file. Elektor GREEN and GOLD members can exclusively download these files for free as part of their membership. Gerber files allow a PCB to be produced on an appropriate device available locally, or through an online PCB manufacturing service.

Elektor recommends its business partner Eurocircuits as the company of choice for its own prototypes and volume production in selected cases.

Extra info / Update


• Experimenter’s board with several I/O possibilities

• Powerful 16-bit MSP430F2012 controller running at 16 MHz, 2 KB Flash and 128 bytes RAM

• 4 indicator LEDs

• 7-segment display

• Piezo buzzer

• Three pushbuttons

• I2C/SPI connector

• Powered via the USB stick or an external adapter

Component list


R1-R8 = 150? 0.25W

R9-R12 = 330? 0.25W

R13-R16 = 47k? 0.25W


C1,C2 = 100nF

C3,C4 = optional, not fitted here (see TI Appl. Report SLAA322)


D1,D2 = low-current LED, red, diam. 3mm

D3,D4 = low-current LED, green, diam. 3mm

LD1 = 7-segment LED display, common cathode (e.g. Lite-On LTS4301E)

IC1 = 74HC4094

IC2 = MSP430F2012IN (TI)


S1,S2,S3 = PCB mount pushbutton, 5x5mm (e.g. Tyco FSM4JH)

K1 = right angled 4-pin connector, lead pitch 1.27mm (Mill-Max # 851-93-004-20-001000)

K2 = 6-way RJ11 connector, PCB mount (Molex # 95009-2661)

K3 = 5-way SIL pinheader

JP1,JP2 = 3-way pinheader and jumper

BZ1 = passive piezo buzzer (e.g. Kingstate# KPEG242)

X1 = 32.768kHz quartz crystal

16-pin IC socket for IC1

14-pin IC socket for IC2

PCB, # 080558-2

Ready assembled and tested board: Elektor Shop # 080558-91

TI eZ430-F2013 evaluation kit: Elektor Shop # 080558-92

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