4.30 $ MSP430 Debugger/Programmer

Hey guys,

Its been a long time since i blogged . Well i was working with msp but too lazy to do anything. Today finally  after months i was able to finally program an external controller with the launchpad and also DEBUG it . It just saved me 149$ for getting the debugger and the target board . You may ask , is it not a simple connection of the program pins from the launchpad to the new controller . Well actually it is. Previously I thought that the C20 resistor would be a problem and destroyed a launchpad in the process of removing it . So after one launchpad down i ordered a new one and also got a free sample of MSP430F5521 and MSP430F4152 to try programming. While i was browsing through 43oh.com i came across the solution.So i rigged up the controller with necessary connections (I’ll tell what they are shortly) and connected the launchpad and voila!!!. The controller came to life and blinked the LED . It s a wonder how a simple act of led blinking can make an electronic geek so happy .

Generally the controllers are programmed using the JTAG protocol which uses 4 wires besides the supply. TI developed a different protocol called Spy-Bi-Wire . As the name suggests it uses only 2 wires with supply. Basically these are the modified versions of SPI(JTAG) and I2C(SBW) protocols . The JTAG debugger provided by TI can be used to program any msp430 , but you’ve to pay 75$ for the debugger. SBW debugger can be used with only certain controllers which have the capability of SBW debugging and can be done either with the JTAG debugger (a modification of pins) or our own launchpad . It’ll cost you only 4.30$ but not all msp can be programmed. So if  use the method i do then , purchase the msp with  these two pins .


These are the pins used for debugging.RST and TEST may be present even without the SBW. So watchout for the names in RED.In the datasheet It’ll be mentioned if the controller supports SBW.

So now you have the controller.Next step connections . For the demo I’ve used msp430f4152.

  • So take the launchpad and update the firmware.
  • Now remove the MSP430 on the launchpad (in the DIP Socket).
  • Set up target .I soldered the msp430f4152 on a 64pin breakout board . Connect these pins of the F4152 to the launchpad board.

DVCC and AVCC  -(Pin 7 and Pin 64 )  to the Vcc of Launcpad

DVSS and AVSS  (Pin 10 and Pin 62) to the Gnd of launchpad

                RST/NMI/SBWTDIO pin to the Reset Pin on the Launchpad

                TEST/SBWTCLK pin to the Test pin on the launchpad.

And Of course an LED with a series resistor to a port. I’ve used P4.6

  • With these connections open IAR and write a small code to toggle the LED.

Change the Following settings .

  1. Project Options> Target > MSP430F4152
  2. Project Options > Debugger > FET Debugger > Texas Instruments USB-IF  and Select Manual Selection of SBW in Debug Protocol as  show below.

Also sometimes the launchpad is not detected at the correct port . In this case in the connection tab in the above figure manually select the COM port. Here i ve chosen HID0026:COM6 as can be seen besides TI USB-IF.

  • Now we are all set. Hit the Download & Debug button and run the code.

I ve made a expansion board for the Launchpad which brings out the supply and debug pins together so that i can easily wire the hardware.

Here is the image of the hardware.

8 thoughts on “4.30 $ MSP430 Debugger/Programmer

  1. I think J4 will allow you to do all of this, along with the debugger information. That will allow you to just hook up a ‘6 pin header male 1.28 mm’ to the J4 holes rather than the proto-board.

    Also on rev 1.5, the BSL Receive of the MSP430F16XX (the programmer) (aka BRXD on the Launchpad Design Documentation http://www.ti.com/lit/ug/slau318d/slau318d.pdf) is on the lower half of the J3, so you can’t just hook up the top row of J3 (the row of J3 that is nearest to the programmer) to P1.1 and P1.2. You need to:

    (A) hook up pin 4 of J3 to P1.2 in your circuit, and
    (B) hook up pin 1 of J3 to P1.1 in your circuit.

    I am going to try using J4 in the next couple of weeks so it will be harder for me to mess up the pin connections. Please post if I have gotten any of this wrong.

    1. Hello Mike ,

      Nice observation . this is indeed possible and correct. though on the older revision like 1.4 this failed few times (suspecting capacitor). so i built the proto board to be on the safe side.

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