TI’s MSP430 LaunchPad is growing a great community, and along with it, some opportunities. Joe over at http://joesbytes.com/wordpress/ recently sent me a sample of his new LaunchPad Mini Proto Board; a handy prototyping board similar to an Arduino prototyping “shield”. You can buy the boards on his site for $6 with free shipping. Joe even makes the Eagle files available, but I doubt you can fab it for less than $6 shipped!
The board is currently only available as a bare board, so you’ll have to supply the parts to populate it. This is a much more compact method if you only need a small breadboard or prototyping area. (If you want a full breadboard, see my LaunchPad Breadboard Adapter.)
This is a high-quality, well thought out board with a few simple extras that make it great. Most of the board’s space is a prototyping area that is thoughtfully perfectly sized to fit one of SparkFun’s mini breadboards. All of the LaunchPad’s 20 pins are brought in to headers next to the prototyping/breadboard area. The Vcc and Gnd lines are broken out into extra headers; both Vcc and Gnd are available on three sides, and there are holes for extra decoupling capacitors next to the headers on two sides. A nice extra is the provision for two on-board LEDs with accompanying resistors, attached via dedicated jumpers to P1.4 and P1.7. The silkscreen is excellent, with every pin and part well labeled.
The mini proto board’s dimensions are just a bit shorter than the LaunchPad, coming up exactly even on three sides when assembled and attached. The LaunchPad’s buttons, LEDs, and external power header are accessible with the mini proto board attached (though the extra Gnd on the power header is a bit tight).
Assembly was easy, as all the parts are through-hole. I chose to have some of the power headers female, and some male. I did have to sacrifice the female headers that came with my other two LaunchPads because the female headers I ordered haven’t arrived yet and I’m impatient! I chose blue and white for the LEDs since the LaunchPad already has red and green.
Here are a few shots of my finished board:
The only glitch I had was that my resistors seem a bit longer than the board is designed for. I popped on a couple of jumpers, and tried out my “police light” program. The flashing blue and white LEDs look great. I’m going to order a mini breadboard right away. You should order your LaunchPad Mini Proto Board now!