"TI E2E rocks" - One of the most active E2E Community members visits TI Freising and shares his feedback

, one of the most prominent members of the TI’s E2E Forum, has recently visited TI Freising to receive an interactive tour with the Freising team and share his first-hand customer feedback with the MSP team.

Dennis is the Hardware Designer and Embedded Software Developer at Hengesbach Process Measurement Technology. Hengesbach is an owner-managed company in Western Germany near Dusseldorf specializing in innovative, high quality and high precision hygienic industrial metering solutions for the food, pharma, and bio-technology sectors.

To most TIers however, Dennis is more famously known as one of the most prolific MSP Low-Power Microcontroller Forum E2E community members with almost 4500 forum posts, helping several thousands of members solve their problems. As if the numbers weren’t impressive enough, the high quality of his answers have made several customers mistake Dennis as an official MSP expert from TI and seek him out directly for further guidance. Having reached 50000 points, a milestone seemingly insurmountable even for TI’s most seasoned employees, Dennis elevated himself into a prestigious rank that only 5 other customers have ever achieved. What’s more? Dennis achieved all this in just over a year of participation on E2E.

The goal of the visit was for the Texas Instruments to show appreciation and formally recognize Dennis for his invaluable contribution to the TI community as the 2015 E2E Processors and MSP430 Community Member of the Year. It was also an opportunity for TI to ask about real customer feedback, about his experience working with MSP microcontroller products and the support given by TIers.

When asked about his clear interest and commitment to help, Dennis describes his early background learning about the MSP parts, making him a questioner on the E2E forum himself. Now after almost a decade of experience with several derivatives of the MSP microcontroller, he is on the opposite spectrum and tries to help others with similar issues with his experience ranging from most common problems beginners face.

Dennis sees several benefits in the E2E Community which in his eyes is the best platform compared to other companies’ forums. He underlines the fact that the forum is simple and easy to use with a fast response rate and a reliable team of TI experts and other forum users located all over the world to offer valuable advice for any question at any time. This high quality and fast support that Dennis received from the E2E forum provided was one of the main reasons for using TI parts.

Prior to the visit, Dennis met Ray Upton (Vice President and General Manager of Microcontrollers) and (MSP Applications Lead) at the Embedded World exhibition in Nuremberg where they discussed his MSP LaunchPad Evaluation Kit preferences. For Dennis, the MSP-EXP430G2 LaunchPad™ Evaluation Kit, the very first LaunchPad introduced by TI, is still his most favorite for building up small prototyping circuits or testing new parts including ADCs or other peripherals. “All LaunchPads are great, but despite being the smallest entry level LaunchPad with 16kB of Flash on the MSP430G2553 MCU, the G2 LaunchPad is powerful enough for many applications. I like its simplicity and recommend it to everyone that wants to start with MSP microcontrollers. Once you grasp the basic concepts, moving to a more powerful LaunchPad is easy!” The team on the TI booth also presented their CapTIvate sensor solutions to him and he got a short introduction into the newest features of the CCS Cloud IDE. “CCS Cloud really improved very fast and became a useful and efficient tool for beginners and hobbyists – in combination with the affordable LaunchPad Ecosystem and all the example programs, TI offers a complete and easy to use solution to get into microcontroller programming.

The day at TI Freising began with Dennis meeting Leo Hendrawan (Application Support Engineer) who welcomed him with introductory TI information which quickly evolved into an active exchange about customer problems. Leo also introduced him to the several members of his team and their individual functions.

The visit continued with the MSP lab tour. Lukas Badura, MSP Quality Engineer, gave Dennis an overview of TI’s quality management and the impressive endeavor that is put into diagnostics and debugging. “I always valued TI’s customer support, but I had no idea about the strenuous efforts that happen behind the scenes!

Next was the famous historic walk of the TI Freising site with Hans-Martin Hilbig (WW MSP Program Manager) where Dennis found particularly enlightening as he learned more about TI’s past and its evolution's to become one of the most important semiconductor manufacturers on the market.

The visit continued with an MSP open exchange where the MSP Tools team and Dennis exchanged a seemingly never-ending flow of Q&A, discussions, and new ideas. Dennis gave a short overview about his background, how TI parts found their way into his hardware designs and why he supports the E2E forum with so much passion. Dennis shared his experience on the frequently asked MSP problems on the E2E forum, his method behind answering those questions, and his opinion about current and planned TI products.

The interactive session went on to cover numerous interesting topics and feedback, starting from moving from IAR to CCS, the IDE features that Dennis uses in his daily work, hobbyist-friendly MSPs in DIP packages to enable more powerful debugging, device support by different flash emulation tools, extending the support for experimental silicon while customers ramp to production silicon, his thoughts on MSP432, the porting process between MSP families, and ideas to further enhance handling of documentation denomination.

It was evident in the room that Dennis could provide so many more ideas suggestions based on his experience working and helping others develop on MSP microcontrollers. The list was only limited by the time we had for the meeting. Some high-level takeaways include:

  • Compared to other forums, TI E2E provides the highest quality and shortest response time, Dennis is proud to make a difference as part of this community
  • The LaunchPads are simple and easy to use and they offer a great way to get started with microcontrollers or to build up a small test circuit, but there should be more devices in DIP packages to serve the market of beginners and hobbyists – also for prototyping on breadboards, DIP packages might be more handy
  • Ease-of-Use of the TI Web matters – finding the right and latest documentation easily is very important, posted links to documents on the E2E forum mustn’t become invalid caused by revised documents and their updated letter suffix
  • LaunchPads with outdated XMS silicon should somehow be supported with newer CCS versions as well – if not, the user needs to be informed where to get a working version and prior to updates CCS should output a warning for no longer supported boards

The visit concluded with an impromptu interview session where Dennis shared his thought on E2E and his favorite activity on the forum, helping others. The interview was captured in a video soon to be released externally to help TI customers learn more about TI E2E forum.

Visiting TI in Freising was a great experience for me – I enjoyed meeting all the different people and the exchange of information. Additionally I got an insight into some workflows and saw lots of interesting things. I definitely benefited from this event and hopefully TI could get gather some useful information from me as well. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to meet with me!

Click here to see Dennis Eichmann’s prolific E2E profile filled with an overwhelming list of awards, recognition's, and projects.

If you wish to have a look at the MSP430 E2E forum, follow this link.