17 May 2010


A few options exist for programming the MSP430.  A number of professional compilers are available, but for easy home and hobby use there are also free versions.

  • IAR Embedded Workbench Kickstart (Referred to as EW430 in MSP430 Microcontroller Basics by John H. Davies)
    • The free version is limited to 4 kb code size
    • Works in Windows (32 and 64 bit versions)
  • Code Composer Studio v.4 (CCS4)
    • Free version is limited to 16 kb code size
    • Works in Windows (32 and 64 bit versions)
    • Unlimited code size, as it's open source software
    • Works in Linux or Windows under Cygwin (32 bit)
I'll be working with CCS4, at least to start.  On a Mac system, the MSP430 is programmable by using any of the windows software through a virtual windows installation using VMWare Fusion.  Unfortunately, VMWare requires a license, and the free, open source VirtualBox does not work with the USB FET.  MSPGCC has been ported to Mac, though.

While I would prefer working in a linux environment, it seems mspgcc is difficult to use because of the state of msp430-gdbproxy, the software that communicates through the FET.  It does not yet support some of the newer families of MCUs, and takes a good deal of effort to get working properly.  It also does not seem to support 64 bit systems yet.

For now, CCS4 works quite well and so will be the IDE I use.  Very little of what will be documented here depends specifically on the environment, however, and so the choice is pretty arbitrary.  The 16 kb limit might sound small, but typical MCU programming is actually quite dense, and so a lot of projects can easily fit into that limit.

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