Texas Instruments has started a series of one-day hands-on workshops devoted to the company’s “Piccolo” family (TMS320C2000) of 32-bit microcontrollers. You can find out more about locations, times, and dates at: focus.ti.com/docs/training/catalog/events/event.jhtml?sku=1DW000328. The schedule includes sessions through September 2009. (Check once in a while for new cities and times.) Unfortunately, none of the cities on the itinerary are close enough to Salt Lake City, Utah for me to easily attend.
I did notice, though, that TI makes the workshop materials and lab experiments available to anyone who wants to download them, which I did. The 19 Mbytes of information includes slide presentations, technical documents, and lab exercises. So, if you can’t attend a workshop, you can download the materials to learn more about the Piccolo family of low-power MCUs. Look for the link at the bottom of the information page noted above, or go to: www.ti.com/litv/zip/sprt517
According to TI, the Piccolo MCU family can help designers who work with, digital motor controls, digital power supplies, renewable-energy products, power-line communications, lighting, and sensing in industrial, automotive, medical, and consumer products. That sounds like a good fit for the world of mechatronics.
To run the lab exercises, you’ll need a WinXP PC, a Piccolo USB controlSTICK, TI’s Code Composer Studio 3.3, Code Composer Studio Service Release 12, and Code Generation Tools 5.1.1. Computers provided in the TI workshops meet these requirements.
Here’s a photo of the USB controlSTICK.
You can buy a Piccolo MCU controlSTICK (TMDX28027USB) for $US 39 and you can likely find a WinXP PC to use. The USB stick comes with Code Composer Studio tools as well as controlSTICK example projects and documents. Each short project highlights a particular Piccolo feature capability. (I assume the supplied software includes the Code Generation Tools.)
TI offers a free version of the Code Composer Studio (V 3.3) and associated tools for downloading (635 Mbytes!), or you can order a free CD-ROM that provides the CCS tools and other helpful information. For download and CD-ROM information, visit TI at: focus.ti.com/dsp/docs/dspsupportaut.tsp?familyId=44§ionId=3&tabId=416&toolTypeId=30
If you like the Piccolo MCU family and want to move on to more capable hardware, TI also sells an Experimenter’s Kit (TMDXDOCK28027) for $US 70. The kit comes with a plug-in controlCARD. Extra controlCARDs cost $US 49. The controlCARD has a 100-pin DIMM connector that makes it easy to snap into the experimenter’s board, a prototype, or a final product.
The Experimenter’s Kit includes a plug-in controlCARD and offers a lot of room to breadboard add-on circuits.
Would you use these types of boards to learn about an MCU and try a company’s development tools? I welcome your opinions and observations about kits suitable for mechatronics applications.