Photo credit: Sylvia Wright / UC Davis.
There are more than 6 billion people on planet Earth and with cows fast approaching the 2 billion mark, there is a high probably, as silly and preposterous as it may seem, that a cow has ended up in someone’s shower. I came from the cow-rich state of Wisconsin, but it does not mean I experienced it – but someone out there is either too ashamed to admit or has missed a golden opportunity to grab their 15 minutes of fame (and missed the next big thing since the Kardashian’s ). Anyway, you may ask how we can avoid this incident (or stop it from happening again– depending on your point of view).
You’re probably wondering what cows, showers and ultra-low power microcontrollers have in common: Well, the recent release of MSP430G2xx4/G2xx5 Value line microcontrollers with more memory can be used in various applications that will definitely prevent this awkward situation from happening again (and stop any incriminating photos from leaking out).
Speaking of cows, have you ever wondered where these natural and energy-efficient lawn mowers come from in the first place? If you are looking for the end-product like a burger, then I suggest stopping by any local fast food joint. But if you’re looking for live ones, check out your nearest dairy farm or any street corner in Wisconsin.
Seriously speaking, modern dairy farms have deployed passive RFID tagging systems to identify cows within a specified range. This system works well if there is only one cow that needs to be identified at a time. It does not work so well if you have multiple cows within a close area. Typically, the cow tag with the strongest signal wins. This is why you see cattle ranchers guide their cows in single file, like elementary school children, as they enter a holding pen to ensure that there is no way to miss a cow’s signal. This isn’t the most practical way to run a dairy farm.
Employing an active wireless tagging system that incorporates an ultra-low power (ULP) microcontroller provides more intelligence while paired with the proper wireless radio/s. The MSP430G2xx4/G2xx5 Value Line microcontroller series is perfect for this application because it can now support up to 56K Flash and 4K SRAM, available in a tiny 3.3 x 3.3. mm DSBGA package, and is ultra-low power. The larger memory on these low-cost MSP430 MCUs helps support the necessary wireless protocol stack, the small DSBGA package size minimizes the solution footprint, while the ultra-low power features is critical to extending the battery life as much as possible. Since developers now have a more capable microcontroller for cattle tracking systems, adding additional sensors to the system is possible. With livestock tags that are effective at longer ranges and last longer because of a stronger battery (courtesy of ultra-low power MSP430 MCUs), cows won’t be able to wander off the pasture and into your home.
So, the next time you see a cow on the side of the highway, check out if they have an active RF tag and assure yourself that you won’t have to scream: “Get that cow out of my shower!” In case you are wondering, that cow in the photo above is probably taking a hot shower courtesy of an electronically controlled water heater, which just happens to be another perfect application for our new MSP430G2xx4/G2xx5 Value Line devices!
What is your favorite application for the MSP430 Value Line Series – we’d love to hear from you! If you want to learn more, check out our overview video.
- MSP430 38-Pin Target Board $89
- MSP430 38-Pin Target Board and USB Programmer $175
- MSP430 LaunchPad Value Line Development $9.99
- CC110L RF BoosterPack – 430BOOST-CC110L $19
- TRF7960A Evaluation Module – TRF7960AEVM $99
- MSP430G2744 BoosterPack $15 (Available in May thru OLIMEX)
- NFC/RFID Reader Ultra-Low-Power Card Presence Detect with MSP430 and TRF79xxA
- Contactless NFC Bootstrap Loader (BSL) Using MSP430 and TRF7970A
- SimpliciTI is a simple low-power RF network protocol that works with MSP430
- SimpleLink Product Family
- Sub – 1 & 2.4Ghz RF Value Line