USB stick streamlines wireless MCU system development - Embedded.com

USB stick streamlines wireless MCU system development

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) announced a new tool for designing embedded systems that combines ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontrollers (MCU) with wireless communications. Priced at $49, TI's eZ430-RF2500 development tool offers two radio frequency (RF)-enabled microcontroller target boards and includes a PC debugging interface that may be used to develop standalone wireless projects. Packaged in a USB stick form factor, the new tool is well suited for use in building low-power wireless systems for sensing and metering, home security and automation, medical equipment location and other innovative applications.

The eZ430-RF2500 development tool provides all the hardware and software needed to program the MSP430 MCU and the Chipcon 2.4-GHz RF transceiver on the postage stamp-sized target board. The new eZ430-RF2500 tool provides a complete solution for writing code as well as operating and testing the application in the field.

The USB stick development interface plugs into a PC port with no additional driver software, and then 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, and 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 F2274 MCU, based on a 16-bit RISC architecture features 32 Kbytes of flash memory and 1 Kbyte of RAM. The F2274 also features an integrated 12-channel 10-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC) that samples at up to 200 ksamples per second. Other on-chip peripherals include two operational amplifiers and support for UART, SPI, I2C and IrDA communications. The MCU offers five low-power modes for maximum power efficiency and features an ultra-fast wake-up from standby mode in less than one microsecond. The low-power CC2500 2.4-GHz RF transceiver is integrated with a baseband modem that supports various modulation formats with a data rate up to 500 kbps.

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 2007 (www.ti.com/estore). Pricing per unit is $49 for the eZ430-RF2500 tool. For $20 additional eZ430-RF2500T target boards can be ordered in Q4 2007. Click here to enter the TI Store.

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