Thursday, 11 July 2013

Meet the Powerscope

Since Ti announced the Launchpad I was very excited to play with this awesome development tool.
It is like a Arduino on steroids, mostly because of it's 16 bit capability and most important it has a debugger.
When your code does not work nothing is more useful than a debugger, maybe  with the exception of a razor sharp brain and years of development experience might not hurt either.

Since the Msp430 line supports low energy consumption and have many different feature sets it is important to verify if the consumption is really as good as it could be. To see exactly what is going on, a scope is the tool of choice, but for a quick estimation the Powerscope is much more comfortable and easier to use.

When measuring very low power devices I would not recommend to use a multimeter, because of their usualy high burden voltage. To circumvent this problem, David Jones from EEVBlog designed the uCurrent , also a great tool.
The Superprobe is a somehow similar device, but it has it's own display so you don't need to connect it to a multimeter.

I also built an usb adapter to attach the Powerscope to a Usb device and measure it's power consumption.
In the attached example pictures I connected the Powersope to an Launchpad which drove a CC2500 radio device.It does not make much sense, because the attached debugger also has a unknown power consumption but it gives an idea of usage and it also shows that the TX mode consumes about 17 mA more than the RX mode .Btw. the code in the moment has no power optimisations what so ever, I was more than happy to get the CC2500 up and running,...

The programming of the Powerscope also was more than easy.
You can either use the Launchpads programmer by removing all the jumpers and insert a programmer cable or you can like me use a Goodfet programmer designed by Travis Goodspeed.
Since I don't like to solder headers just for one time programming, I made a small programming cable with pogo pins. You can use this kind of connection even for debugging.

You can buy an empty pcb at the 43oh store.

Powerscope front side

Powerscope back side

Powerscope connected to Lauchpad in TX mode

Powerscope connected to Launchpad in RX mode

Goodfet 4_1 programmer and programming cable with pogo pins


Buy Powerscope pcb
Designer thread
Powerscope Code and Info page
Goodfet programmer

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