Element14 Roadtest: Texas Instruments MSP430 Launchpad

Authored By: Charles Gantt on 10/09/2012
Review Type: Development Board
Manufacturer: Texas Instruments
Product Version: N/A

TI Launchpad

You might remember our original coverage of Texas Instrument's MSP430 LaunchPad back when it was launched. We even hosted a Q and A Session with is development team. We promised more coverage and some hands on examples, but unfortunately we never received our media sample kit and the 4 boards we actually purchased took over 13 weeks to arrive. By then we were wrapped up in Digilent's ChipKIT line of development boards. Recently Element14 asked us to join their list of Media Road Testers, and we gladly accepted! Our first roadtest we were issued was a MSP430 LaunchPad. So sit back and enjoy the blast from the past show! 


MSP430 LaunchPad Introduction

We thuroughly covered the basics of the LaunchPad in our original review so a good bit of this information will look familar. The introduction posted below is from our original article. Below that we have listed a few videos from Element14 that will provide a little more information and will showcase a pretty easy beginner project. 

"LaunchPad is an easy-to-use development tool intended for beginners and experienced users alike for creating microcontroller-based applications. At $4.30, the LaunchPad offers everything you need to get started with your projects.

Texas Instruments LaunchPad


The LaunchPad development kit is a part of the MSP430 Value Line series. LaunchPad has an integrated DIP target socket that supports up to 20 pins, allowing MSP430 Value Line devices to be dropped into the LaunchPad board. Also, an on-board flash emulation tool allows direct interface to a PC for easy programming, debugging, and evaluation. Included are free and downloadable software development environments for writing and debugging software. LaunchPad can be used to create interactive solutions thanks to its on-board push buttons, LEDs, and extra input/output pins for easy integration of external devices.

Why LaunchPad?
The LaunchPad is an easy-to-use, affordable, and scalable introduction to the world of microcontrollers and the MSP430 family.

Easy-to-use – LaunchPad includes all of the hardware and software needed to get started. Open source projects and code examples help users get up and running quickly.

Affordable – For $4.30, the LaunchPad includes a development board, 2 programmable MSP430 microcontrollers, mini-USB cable, PCB connectors for expandability, external crystal for increased clock accuracy, and free & downloadable software integrated development environments (IDEs) – everything you need to get started today.

Scalable – The LaunchPad is a simple introduction to the MSP430 microcontroller family. As application requirements change, programs developed on the LaunchPad can be migrated to higher end MSP430 devices.


Included in the LaunchPad kit is:

Free & Downloadable Compilers/Debuggers (IDEs)

There are many other compilers and integrated development environments (IDEs) for MSP430 including Rowley Crossworks and MSPGCC. However, example projects have been created using IAR Embedded Workbench KickStart and Code Composer Studio (CCS). Both IAR and CCS have free, code-limited versions, which are available for download. These IDEs will run full-featured on the available MSP430 Value Line devices, as these devices will not encounter the 4kB size limit of IAR, or the 16kB size limit of CCS.

IAR offers a 4kB code-limited version and CCS offers a 16kB code-limited version. As MSP430 Value Line devices are below this limit, the free versions of each IDE will run full-featured on MSP430 Value Line devices."

Element14 was kind enough to send us this kit as part of their roadtest program. If you are interested in purchasing a LaunchPad kit please consider purchasing from Element14's store at Newark.com. Below is a few extended videos that will fully answer any questions or concerns you may have about the MSP430 LaunchPad. 

Complete MSP430 LaunchPad Walkthrough

A simple and easy beginner project with the MSP430 LaunchPad 


Our thoughts on the MSP430 LaunchPad

Texas Instrument's hit a homerun with the LaunchPad, it has seen widespread success in the enthusiast market and nothing can even come close in performance vs value. TI stayed true to their word and has kept the LaunchPad below $5 since its release and we have seen many great projects throughout the community based on the LaunchPad. We have plans for our LaunchPad. It will serve as a temperature sensor in an observatory we do astro imaging from. Our plans include having the MSP430 dump the temperature to a csv file that will update a website every 2 minutes. This will allow us to automate some of the time consuming processes in astrophotography. So stay tuned for some more information on that. 

We would highly reccomend that anyone wanting to get into embedded electronics pick up one of these and get started making something ASAP! We would like to thank Element14, Newark.com and Texas Instruments for providing us with this review sample and we look forward to working with them in the future. 

Purchase your own TI LaunchPad from Newark.com for under $5