Note: We’re offering a free Texas Instruments MSP430 Launchpad and a Newark element 14 Fuel Tank BoosterPack to the first person to answer a question at the end of this article. The answer is in the following text. We prefer to give these to a university or other non-profit organization.

Fig. 1.  The Newark element 14 Fuel Tank BoosterPack contains all the necessary charge and gas gauge components, as well as an LiPol battery.

The Fuel Tank BoosterPack is a product developed by Newark element 14, a distributor of technology products, services and solutions for electronic system design, maintenance and repair.  This BoosterPack supplies battery power to the Texas Instruments’ LaunchPad development kits (Fig. 1). It allows LaunchPads to be powered from a rechargeable lithium polymer battery, further enabling mobile application development and evaluation.

The Fuel Tank BoosterPack has two LED indicators – one for Low battery (BATT LOW) and the other to indicate the battery is charging (CHARGING). There are two 20-pin of headers for connection to the Texas Instruments LaunchPads.

LaunchPads are an easy-to-use development tool intended for beginners and experienced users alike to create microcontroller-based applications (Fig. 2). Key to this development tool is the type of microcontroller that is used. One type of Launchpad uses the Texas Instruments’ MSP430™ MCU Value Line series. Its integrated DIP target socket supports MSP430G2xx2, MSP430G2xx3, and MSP430F20xx devices in PDIP14 or PDIP20 packages, allowing them to be dropped into the LaunchPad board for easy programming, debugging, and monitoring. Included are free unrestricted and downloadable software development environments for writing and debugging software. You can use LaunchPads to create interactive solutions thanks to its integrated buttons, LEDs, and extra input/output pins for easy integration of external devices.

Fig. 2.  MSP430 LaunchPad features onboard emulation, which allow you to program and debug projects without the need for additional tools.

This LaunchPad is an affordable, and scalable introduction to the world of microcontrollers and the MSP430 family. The MSP430 is a16-bit microcontroller platform of ultra-low power RISC mixed-signal microcontrollers from Texas Instruments.