It’s not every day that a development board gets a marriage proposal. But when it comes to the MSP430™ MCU LaunchPad™ development kit, it’s just another day in the life of this little red rectangle of possibility that’s captured the hearts of makers everywhere.
This Valentine’s Day, we’re celebrating #MSP430Love and honoring all the students, makers, hobbyists – all the engineers the world over – who’ve used our little MCU or its development kit – the MSP430 LaunchPad kit – to learn, to build, to innovate.
The tale of love for MSP430 microcontrollers (MCUs) began – and flourished – on the internet. It all began with engineers going to the World Wide Web to get information and share ideas about designing and developing with our MSP430 ultra-low power MCU. From thousands of forum posts on our E2E (engineer-to-engineer) Community to videos about different designs to an entire website dedicated to the MCU, love was in the air.
For students, the flexibility and accessibility of the MSP430 MCU makes it ideal for engineering education. For makers, it’s at the heart of a host of DIY projects – from homemade 3D printers to LED light applications to robotic arms.
For instance, at a recent Maker Faire, one hobbyist used the MSP430 LaunchPad kit to make a robotic arm that, using a web interface, allowed users to paint on a computer, which the robotic arm could mirror on a separate paper.
Using feedback from makers, engineers to improve our productsOur MSP430 LaunchPad kit team often attends Maker Faires and other events to connect with enthusiasts and makers, said Adrian Fernandez, our MCU customer experience manager. The team uses feedback from makers to create new tools and resources within the MCU LaunchPad ecosystem.
Startups and Kickstarter projects often use MSP430 products at the core of their designs. For instance, the MSP430 LaunchPad was used to prototype mini-satellites for KickSat, which makes small, cube-shaped satellites to conduct experiments in space.
When the MSP430 LaunchPad development kit was first introduced in 2010, most development kits were priced between $100 and $1,000. So for innovators around the globe, its price tag – under $10 – was a thing of beauty. Adrian said the goal was to make it easier for anyone to use our tools for their projects.
Just a few months after the first LaunchPad development kit was released, Gerard Sequeira, an inventor and TI MCU LaunchPad kit user, created 43oh.com, which included a forum to help people discover new ways to use their MSP430 LaunchPad development kit and address any challenges they may face.
“There will always be competition in the low-power and connected-device space,” Gerard said. “A good development platform, a rich peripheral choice and support community is vital for device adoption. Early exposure to a controller in schools and universities is a must. It takes one student, who graduates to a developer, to select a controller that gets into millions of devices. The MSP430 MCU satisfies all the above.”
The support that TI provides to help developers get started makes MSP430 MCU attractive to users, said Dennis Eichmann, an MVP member of our E2E Community. Dennis has 6,000 posts on the forum – most of which are to help other members with MSP-related issues.
Launched in 2008, E2E boasts a community of over 250,000 engineers and experts across 200 countries. Many of these are highly active MSP E2E community members, and non-TIers, who choose to help thousands of members with MSP-related challenges in their free time.
“What I like most about the MSP430 MCU is the fact that you can easily switch between the different parts and families without being confronted with a new processor,” Dennis said.
The large volume of application notes and reference designs are also helpful in making designers feel comfortable using the MCU, Dennis said.
Over the years, we’ve also used feedback on MSP430 MCUs and LaunchPad kits from the E2E forum to create what has evolved into an ecosystem of engineering tools.
Inspiring the next generation of makers
Currently, about one third of all LaunchPad kits shipped go to university students, with competitively priced hardware and easy to use software and code examples being the driving factors.
“We believe so strongly in STEM – how can we get more engineers out there in the workplace?” Adrian said. “That raises the water level for everyone…Just the thought of having more technically, electronically savvy people, we can solve harder and harder problems.”
Are you a fan? Share your #MSP430Love in the comments or on social.
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