Greetings, For someone who is a hobbyist trying a thing or two with MCU and DSP's, would you advise getting the high priced evaluation boards or development kits or can the chip be programmed in circuit?
Also what is the difference between evaluation board and development kit?
Certainly the device can most allways be programmed in circuit. It is the rare MCU that can't be. DSPs are a different matter with few of them having on chip flash. To program an external flash memory requires software to control the memory bus signals through the JTAG connection. Sometimes this is free from the DSP vendor (free with a $6,000 development package) but others are only available through third party JTAG tool vendors.
Mostly the eval boards are built to be low cost while the develoment boards are built to be fully functional including external devices. For example you can get a DSK (DSP Started Kit) from TI for under $100. But the development board has much, much more capability and is much more expensive. For MCUs the differences are not so dramatic and there are many third party sources for both types of boards. There are even boards available that are intended to be used in your final application such as ARM Stamps (a board about the size of a postage stamp).
If we had a clue as to which chip you were considering the evaluation board for then sensible answers may be forthcoming.
I have used boards from Triangle Digital Services and Microprocessor Engineering without problems. With these developments can be done with nothing more than a PC with an editor and a terminal programme (although both provide more sophisticated tools as well). Both company's offerings are really project starter boards that can form part of the final product or give you a flying start for developing your own product around the devices on their board.
Paul E. Bennett ....................
To me, there are two types of boards: the minimum needed to run the chip (cheap), and the most you can use with the chip (expensive). I like getting one of the former, so that I have at least one example of a working circuit to compare to my own designs.
Failing that, I'll probably make a simple breakout board for the chip so I can wire it up to my solderless breadboard, like this:
If you want to start on the cheap: Texas Instruments EZ430 USB kit for $20, comes with the compiler suite and the whole enchilada. Then buy some target boards where there is a way to program them and afterwards "implant" them into your hobby circuit without soldering (for example where you can install through-hole headers). That way you can take them back out in a jiffy if you find that the code ain't quite right yet. TI sells those in 3-packs for $10 a pack. It doesn't get much cheaper than that:
You'll have a 16-bit ALU at your fingertips with these so you can be quite generous when coding math stuff. Just keep in mind that these are the lower end devices in the MSP430 series so there won't be a HW multiplier so keep it simple with filter algorithms.
The kits are not "high priced" if you think they are find a different hobby.
Dev kits and eval boards are one and the same. They are sometimes call reference designs. However what is on them and their cost can vary from a few pounds to several hundred. It depends on the target processor and the board.
What target MCU are you thinking of and why?
Given this information the group here can tell you if you have a good choice and where to get the inexpensive boards.
Though do remember some misguided souls will try and push their favourite part regardless of your application and ignore Gods Own 8051 :-)
Don't go this way. You will have to design and build a board which will be as expensive as buying a kit and far higher risk.
Most modern MCU are no longer in DIL packages and a real bugger to hand solder.
\/\/\/\/\ Chris Hills Staffs England /\/\/\/\/
Although JTAG is a good thing to have regardless, it is not absolutely necessary for the flash memory programming. A serial flash can be programmed in circuit by a simple 4-wire connection using Altera Byte Blaster. A parallel flash is little more complex: you have to boot the DSP using ByteBlaster as a host, and then program the flash by the DSP.
Vladimir Vassilevsky DSP and Mixed Signal Consultant
You said "parallel Flash", but I see what you mean. You use the ByteBlaster to emulate a serial PROM to boot the DSP. To do that you have to be able to switch the DSP boot method from parallel flash to serial flash and you need the software that runs on the DSP to then program the parallel flash. Is that software readily available? I have had to write this software myself for DSPs.
What is the format of the FLASH image file for the DSP, is it SREC,ELF, or HEX? I've done this in the past with my own programmer. If there is a demand for this type of application I could consider making it into a product.
In addition to the SREC/HEX file the BSDL file for the device connected to the FLASH, a description of which pins of the device is connected to the FLASH and a description of the JTAG chain is required. Typically the EDIF file for the board will do here.
A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?