A few months ago I posted build instructions for a DRO controller that uses MSP430G2553 microcontroller with a TI MSP430 Value Line Launchpad. Compared to the original version that used Arduino, the Launchpad version has a few advantages, such as lower cost and simpler construction. On the other hand, firmware upload process is not as user-friendly as that offered by the Arduino software. Fortunately, you don't need to install the full-blown IDE, list TI Code Composer Studio or even the MSPGCC tool chain. Instead the pre-compiled firmware can be flashed using a free command line MSP430 Flasher tool offered by Texas Instruments.UPDATE Jul. 2, 2015: It appears that TI moved some things around their website. Brian Dantz has left a detailed comment (down below) that outlines the changes.
To save yourself a lot of frustration later, please verify that you got the right version of the Launchpad with the correct chip installed. At the time of this writing Launchpads purchased directly from TI's store use PCB version 1.5 and ship with MSP430G2553 microcontroller. On the other hand, many sellers on Amazon and eBay.com are still selling old V1.3 stock with 16-pin MCU. If you already purchased a kit and it came with the wrong chip you can order the correct IC from TI.com, Mouser or any other component supplier. I've tested the DRO firmware with Launchpad versions 1.3, 1.4 and 1.5 and they all work equally well.
|The correct chip will look like this|
MSP430 USB Drivers
MSP430 Launchpad uses proprietary USB [CDC] drivers, so when you first plug it in, Windows won't be able to automatically initialize the device. Before you can go any further you will need to download and install the driver software.
Using your favorite web browser go to http://www.ti.com/tool/msp-exp430g2.
Click the "Get Software" button. It will download a file name slac435c.zip.
|The "Get Software" button will start the driver download|
Unzip the file. Inside you will find a folder name "MSP-EXP430G2-Launchpad User Experience" and inside that folder there will be one named "driver".
Right click on the 430CDC "Setup Information" file and click "Install" in the context menu.
|To install the driver click the "Install" option in the context menu|
At this point your Launchpad should be good to go. To verify, open the "Device Manager" and expand the "Ports (COM and LPT)" node. Inside you should see "MSP430 Application UART" (similar to the screenshot below).
|The Launchpad will appear in the "Ports" node in the Device Manager|
Next you will need to download the flasher utility from TI.com. It's command line tool that will upload the firmware to the Launchpad.
Using your favorite web browser go to http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/MSP430_Flasher_-_Command_Line_Programmer, scroll to the "Downloads" section and follow the "Download" link (button). You will likely need to register (or log in with your TI.com credential if you've already registered to purchase the Launchpad).
|MSP430 Flasher download link|
Once the download completes, run the installer and follow the onscreen prompts. The defaults are safe to follow but make sure to note where the installer puts the files (you will need to go to that folder later).
Flashing the Firmware
With the previous steps complete you are now ready to upload the firmware.
Go to the "DRO Project Downloads" page and download the ".txt" version of the firmware you intend to use. I.e. for iGaging scales you would want DigitalReadoutBasic_v1.x.txt etc.
Locate the folder where the flasher is installed.
By default it's "C:\ti\MSP430Flasher_1.2.2" or something similar) and copy the firmware into it.
Open a new command prompt window and navigate to that folder.
On Windows 7 and 8 you can right-click in the folder while holding the "Shift" button and use the "Open new command window here" option.
|Windows 7 and 8 offer a nifty shortcut: hold the "Shift" button |
and right-click in a folder
Run the following command (paste the whole line and hit "enter")
MSP430Flasher.exe -n Unknown -w "DigitalReadoutBasic_v1.2.txt" -v -g -z [VCC]
To paste into the command window right-click anywhere inside and select "Paste" from the menu.
If everything goes well you should see a result similar to the one in the screenshot below; the red LED on the Launchpad should be lit and green LED should be blinking about once per second.
|When the upload finished the output should be similar to this screenshot|
As you can see, firmware upload process isn't that complicated and should take only a few minutes. If, never the less, you run into trouble please feel free to ask for help either in the comments below or via email.