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TI Dev Kit Harvests Solar Energy

TI Dev Kit Harvests Solar Energy

01/30/2009

Texas Instruments has the right idea for engineers who need self-sustaining electronics in remote locations: Make it easy to combine solar power, a low-power microcontroller, and a wireless link without design headaches. After all, getting any two of those components working together can become a challenge. Stir another subsystem into the mix and you further complicate the design. At least until now.

Even the 60W adjustable lamp on my lab bench can charge the two batteries on the large Cymbet board.

To get designers started, Texas Instruments new eZ430-RF2500-SEH kit ($149) combines its own low power MSP430 microcontroller and RF technologies with two EnerChip CBC050 thin-film batteries and solar cell from Cymbet (http://www.cymbet.com/). TI is now sampling the kit, which developers can purchase through the TI e-store or authorized distributors (http://www.ti.com/ez430-RF2500-SEHpr).

Solar cells mounted on a CBC-SEH-01 board--slightly larger than a credit card--gather light energy and charge the Cymbet EnerChip solid-state lithium thin-film batteries. Even under no-light conditions, the battery can supply enough power to send as many as 400 transmissions. The kit's large solar cells gather plenty of light for lab work. In a field application--particularly in sunlight--designers can use smaller solar cells.

The two small black Cymbet CBC050 batteries provide 3.8V at 50- Ah in 8 x 8 mm packages.

The components in this kit would let me build a small local weather station that needs no wires. I welcome ideas for appropriate weather sensors.

On the wireless and MCU side of the kit, TI supplies a low-power MSP430 MCU and a CC2500 RF chip (2.4 GHz) for short-range communications. The kit includes two eZ430-RF2500T wireless boards, a USB emulator "stick" that will program the eZ430 boards, and a 3-V battery-pack board that will power one of the eZ430 boards. The solar-cell board from Cymbet plugs into an eZ430 board, too. The kit I received included a CD-ROM, "MSP430 Experimental Silicon Sample Pack" and a printed 1-page Quick Start sheet.

Use the following links to find more information: eZ430-RF2500-SEH: http://www.ti.com/ez430-RF2500-SEH M, SP430 tools: http://www.ti.commsp430tools/, eZ430-RF2500 development tool: http://www.ti.com/ez430.

According to the materials of the magazine EDN (Electronics Design, Strategy, News) http://www.edn.com/.


Company profile:  Texas Instruments

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