I finally got a minute to play with the MSP430 LaunchPad Kit I received, well almost for free from TI and immediately got some feedback to share with the development and marketing team.
First overall I think Launchpad is a great product and I am looking forward to seeing it improve, secondly my understanding is that its targeted market is starting engineers , hobbyist and alike … and I am speaking from that perspective.
I know you might hate me for this and maybe this is a banned word in your company but you should really look at Arduino and try to understand why it became so popular, in a nutshell let me break it down:
- the secret is in details, you might have a better product at a better price but if you can’t present it correctly it will not catch up with developers
- simplicity , simplicity , simplicity, too much information is as bad as no information, getting started manual DOES NOT have to be 182 pages long, half of which are telling about the entire TI lineup and various clock setup , get straight to the point show us the fun part !
- people don’t want so many options, so you must make choices for them , for example – choose a fixed clock mode (crystal or internal clock) and make it standard, let advanced users hack it if necessary, this will also make Launchpad programs more portable if you choose and “official” operating clock speed.
- make a free compiler and IDE : it makes no sense to have a paid compiler and charge a developer “pennies” compared to what that developer can bring you in hardware sales if he uses your chips , instead of spending money on giveaways and free lunches at trade shows , etc, just give the developers a free unlimited IDE and compiler, best promotion you can make and best boost in hardware sales for the future ! It is no coincidence Arduino was based on AVR the only major MCU manufacture to have multi-platform free compilers and IDE (both Microchips and TI’s free editions are limited and crippled).
- give free and no “string attached” MCU samples as Microchip has, same reason as above , you can’t cook dinner with MCUs if someone is ordering them they are an engineer and they might make a product that will use millions of your chips in the future, if you don’t make samples easy and fast , he might choose Microchip because today he is a student and he is broke, call it fate or whatever – unfair but fair ..
- in coding hide all the ugly details like the clock setup , in worst case scenario make a “launchpad” header file to contain all the technical stuff, if you make the “blinking led” program a one or two line program than you know you’re on the right way !
- make changing pin direction (output / input) prettier and more straightforward and avoid the | (OR) bit assignments, in worst case you can use some macros (as I explain here http://www.starlino.com/port_macro.html) , this style of assignments is confusing for beginners
Well that’s it for now, i might add more ideas … so check back or contact me directly if you’d like more feedback.