Embedded applications are nowdays rarely completely standalone. You’ll usually have the system communicate with something, usually a computer. The easiest way to do so is with UART, since there are several USB to UART converter ICs out there such as the FT232 from FTDI Chip.
You still need to configure the UART module of the microcontroller to work. For the MSP430, I’ve added quite a lot of practical information on how to get UART running. Take a look at the UART chapter in my tutorial:
The information will allow you to communicate with a computer using the USB port
I just announced my first release of an open source MSP430 UART driver. If you want to get started using
the MSP430 UART without all the hassles, feel free to give it a try. More information Here
Debugging for the MSP430 has always been complicated. The old mspgcc project incorporated the gdbproxy software, which was partially closed source because of the proprietary deubgging interface.
mspdebug is an open source debugger that allows you to debug the msp430 using common interfaces including the FET430UIF (the standard FET interface), EZ430 and EZ430-RF2500.
Installation and use is a breeze. Simply clone the code using git:
git clone git://mspdebug.git.sourceforge.net/gitroot/mspdebug/mspdebug
sudo make install
sudo is required since mspdebug will want to install in /usr/local/bin.
Once mspdebug is installed, it’s ready for use. For example, lets assume you have a hex file that was compiled using mspgcc or another compiler called “text.hex” and you want to flash it to an EZ430-RF2500 device.
sudo mspdebug rf2500
sudo is again required unless you have permissions for the USB port used for the ez430-rf2500. mspdebug automatically detects an EZ430-RF2500 and connects to it.
The screen will show the following, preceded by a list of useful commands and other relevant information :
Type “help ” for more information.
Press Ctrl+D to quit.
As with GDB, you have complete control interactively and you can type commands by writing and pressing ENTER. We can erase the flash, load the hex file and let it run as follows:
(mspdebug) load test.hex
Besides working as standalone programmer, there are many other features and mspdebug can operate with GDB similar to what OpenOCD does for ARM devices.
This is incredibly powerful and very easy compared to other alternatives and makes a strong argument for MSP430 programming in Linux.