MSP430 that uses FRAM – Remembers forever (Virtually)

As well as shout about the products we want to make, I want to make this blog about other cool tech that we see/use. With that in mind, FRAM (Ferroelectric RAM) has come across my desk this week. FRAM has the speed of RAM but is non-volatile so won’t forget what it knows when it looses power. The mainstream alternative Flash is traditionally used for such jobs but doesn’t yet have the speed of RAM, just about every Microcontroller on the market uses Flash of some sort. Well that was until recently when TI announced they were adding FRAM to their MSP430 range. The MSP430 range has some of the lowest powered micro’s in the industry with the additional of FRAM, that can go even lower, instead of hibernating the processor with just enough power to keep the SRAM alive it can just switch off. The FRAM retains the processors state and varibles, power up again and carry on where it left off.  Even if you’re not that interested in the low power side the other advantages of FRAM, it’s speed and maximum write cycles make it a very exciting technology.  TI do a cheap developers kit, much like the launchpad

MSP-EXP430FR5739 MSP430 FRAM Experimenters Kit

MSP-EXP430FR5739 MSP430 FRAM Experimenters Kit

You can buy this from the TI eStore for $29 $15 with the coupon code : MSP430_FRAM (Thanks to Hackaday for the 50% code), The board has a 3 axis accelerometer and can also be used as a Programmer/Jtag, mines on order!

Where do we begin

To kick off our new ‘hobby’ Rob and I have chosen to make something we need, in the hope that someone out there might find it useful. Rob has just done some work on his garden and has fitted some deck lighting and a pond fountain. He was talking about buying a wireless relay controller so he could sit in the garden and turn things on/off. When we had the idea, how about making his phone the controller, since he always has it on him.

We have both used a few Different ARM processors in the past and I have had them running TCP/IP Stacks like lwip and uip without too much hassle. I’ve also dabbled in some iPhone and Android development so knocking up something to control it should be simple.

Since were hooking up a network controllable board to a phone I thought it would be a nice feature to include a IRDA port to allow it to learn and send IR Codes. Turn your phone into a remote!

Stay tuned for more updates!

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