There are now many ultra low cost MCU development kit selling for $15 to $25 such as STMicro Discovery Board, but for this price, they’ll usually just feature the MCU, a micro USB, pin header, maybe and maybe some sensors, and they usually lack any form of connectivity, at least without extra hardware. With Tiva C Series TM4C129 Connect Launchpad, Texas Instruments brings a board that can be used for IoT application out of the box thanks to the addition of an Ethernet port. The board sells for just $19.99, which means you could easily make something like a connected 4-relay control system for about $25.
Connected LaunchPad evaluation kit specifications:
- MCU – Texas Instruents TM4C1294NCPDT ARM Cortex-M4 @ 120MHz with floating point, 1MB Flash, 256KB SRAM, 6KB EEPROM, Integrated 10/100 Ethernet MAC+PHY, data protection hardware, 8x 32-bit timers, dual 12-bit 2MSPS ADCs, motion control PWMs, USB H/D/O, and many additional serial communication interfaces
- Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
- Dual stackable BoosterPack XL connection sites
- Breadboard connection headers – Support for 20-pin and 40-pin BoosterPacker
- USB – micro USB port for power and programming/debugging (via TM4C123GH6PMI IC)
- On-board, in-circuit debug interface (ICDI)
- Misc – 4 user LEDs, 2 user switches, reset switch, wake button, power select jumper
- Dimensions – 12.45 cm x 5.59 cm x 10.8mm
The Connected LaunchPad Evaluation Kit contains the board itself (EK-TM4C1294XL), a retractable Ethernet cable, and a USB Micro-B plug to USB-A plug cable.
For development, the board is supported by Cloud-based, Exosite QuickStart Application, Code Composer Studio 6 (CCS 6) & TivaWare 2.1 and multiple development tool chain support such as CCS, Keil, IAR, Mentor & GCC. The user’s guide also mentions it’s possible to use Energia Wiring framework.
Beside the user’s guide, documentation is currently limited, and there are no hardware files for now. Having said that there’s an online workshop for the board using CCS6 & TivaWare 2.1 to show you how to get started.
Texas Instruments Tiva C Series TM4C129 Connected Launchpad is currently available for pre-order for $19.99, and is expected to ship within 6 to 8 weeks. Contrary to most other companies that charge a ridiculous shipping fee for their low cost development kit, sometimes more expensive than the board itself, Texas Instruments does not charge for shipping, so $19.99 is the total price you pay. I know for sure, because I’ve just ordered one :).
For more information and/or to purchase the board, visit Tiva C Series TM4C1294 Connected LaunchPad page.