MSP430G2xxx Stand Alone

1. Introduction

This example shows how to drive a MSP430G2xx MCU standalone (without Launchpad). It also shows, how to use a Launchpad for in circuit programming through only three lines (Spy By Wire). We first will have a look on the most minimal set-up needed, to run a MSP430 value line MCU outside the Launchpad. Then we will detail a little more on how to supply a regulated voltage to the device, and last we will see, how the Launchpad could be used as in circuit programmer.

To end up with a somehow usable example, and to test things out a little, a small example firmware is provided. This firmware just blinks two LEDs connected to the MSP430G2xxx, and switches the blink mode whenever the connected push button is pressed.

2. Prerequisites

1. Hardware

The following material is needed to build the example setup:

Qty. Part
1 TI Launchpad
1 MSP430G2xxx MCU (the MSP430G2231 which comes with the launchpad is good enough)
2 47kOhm resistors
2 LEDs (blue)
2 Push buttons
1 Breadboard
bunch of Jumper wires

If you like to power-supply your set-up from a battery, you also will need:

Qty. Part
1 Voltage Regulator LM1086
2 0.1uF Capacitors
1 9V Battery block
1 9V Battery connector

2. Software

For compiling the example firmware, msp430-gcc must be installed on your system. For flashing the „mspdebug“ tool is used.

3. Minimal Set-up

First lets have a look at the most minimal standalone set-up possible. In this set-up we assume, a 3.3V regulated power supply is available, and all we need to do is power up the MSP430G2xxx. Well this is quite simple, the only thing we have to know is, that the MSP430G2xxx is kept in reset state, unless the RST pin is driven high. Thus, VCC and RST are connected to 3.3V and GND to ground. To be able to reset the MSP430G (in this step through a push button, later on through the Launchpad), we add an additional 47k pull-up resistor between the RST pin and the 3.3V power-supply. Then between the RST pin and the resistor a push button is connected with its one side, and with its other side to ground. As long as the button is open, power is supplied to the RST pin through the pull-up resistor. At the moment the push button is pressed, RST is pulled to ground, and the MSP430 is reset and kept in reset state unless the push button is released.

MSP430G2xxx stand alone minimal setup

MSP430G2xxx stand alone minimal setup

4. Minimal Set-up with Voltage Regulator

The MSP430 value line devices need a supply voltage between 1.8 and 3.6V. It is very common to supply a voltage of 3.3V. The supply voltage should be kept accurate as much as possible. This could be easily achieved by using an voltage regulator which is able to regulate an input voltage within a certain range (e.g. 4-12V) to a defined fixed output voltage (3.3V in our case). In our next example, we use an LM1086 3.3V regulator which supplies 3.3V on its output. It is also a good idea to decouple the input and the output voltage on the regulator with two capacitors. Now we are able to power our MSP430 from a 9V battery.

MSP430G2xx stand alone with regulator

MSP430G2xx stand alone with regulator

5. In Circuit Programming

To load firmware on your MCU, you could place the MCU into the IC socket of the Launchpad, program it and then put it back into your circuit. While this works pretty well from a technical point of view, it is not very handy to swap the MCU for each reprogramming between your circuit and the Launchpad. Anyway, there is no need to do so, since the Launchpad could be used easily for in circuit programming. The Launchpad is made up of two parts: the part where one evaluates the MSP430 value line MCU, and and the part which includes the debugging/programming logic you connect through USB to your box. Programming/debugging for the value line devices is done through a protocol called „Spy By Wire“. To use „Spy by Wire“, only three lines are needed: TEST, RST and GND. Thus, to program an MCU in your circuit, the only thing that needs to be done is, to remove the MCU from the Launchpad, then connect the TEST, RST and GND pins to the corresponding pins on the MCU in your circuit. The RST form the Launchpad is connected where you already connected the reset button in the examples earlier. Now you can use „mspdebug“ to program/debug your device as you would with the Launchpad.

MSP430G2xxx stand alone with regulator

MSP430G2xxx in circuit programming with Launchpad

Note: instead of using an external power supply for your circuit (like we did in the example above), you could use the Launchpad to power up your circuit. To do so, just connect VCC of the Launchpad to VCC of your circuit. Make sure, not to supply from two sources.

6. Set-up for the Sample Firmware

To try things out (see if we could program in circuit, see if power supply works etc.), we are going to add two additional LEDs on P1.0 and P1.6 (same pins as on the Launchpad for LEDs), as well as a push-button and a 47k pull-up resistor on P1.3 (also same pin as on for the button on the Launchpad):

MSP430G2xx stand alone testsetup

MSP430G2xx stand alone test setup

Test setup

Test setup

The sample firmware then does nothing more but blink the LEDs on P1.0 and P1.6. The blink mode could be changed by pressing button on P1.3.

7. Get the Firmware

You could download the sources from gitihub:

git clone

8. Compilation

This project is written for msp430-gcc on Linux (I used v4.5.3 which is available as package on ubuntu). For flashing the „mspdebug“ tool was used (also from the Ubuntu package).

To compile the source just issue a:

make -C src

This builds the firmware in the „src“ subdirectory.

9. Flashing

To flash the firmware to your Launchpad you could use the „flash“ make target:

make -C src flash


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.